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  • Four Node Linux Commodity Minicluster

    by Mitch Williams

    A small Linux cluster for portability. Useful for demonstrations, tutorials and roadshows.

    • 4x Advanced Digital Logic Pentium MMX 266Mhz  processors 
    • 10baseT private network
    • external PCMCIA for wireless connection to the outside world
    • quad KVM switch for local diagnostics
    • dimensions: 5.3″x5.3″x13″
    • can be built by hand for ~ USD $6700 or integrated by Parvus Corp. for  an additional fee


    This cluster turns out to be useful as a parallel programming teaching and demonstration tool. Created entirely out of commercial off-the-shelf PC/104 compliant parts, this cluster has all of the features that you would expect in normal-sized rack-mounted clusters, including individual keyboard, video and   mouse access to every node. CPU power is a little light in this incarnation, but   the CPU core module is upgradable to 700MHz, as of this date (11/20/01).

    PC/104 Linux Minicluster Parts List

    The following parts may be obtained from Parvus Corporation (800) 483-3152

    QuantityPart NumberDescriptionUnit PriceAmount 
    2PRV-0752A-02PC/104 10 Mbit Ethernet Hub169338.00
    1PRV-0886A-01PC/104 Quad CPU Switch259259.00
    1PRV-1016X-03PC/104 Dual PCMCIA Interface, Left Loading199199.00
    1N/A50 Watt Power Supply140140.00
    1PRV-0974A-01PC/104 Power Interface w/ Temperature Sensing249249.00
    1PRV-0912A-54Mounting Plate6050.00
    6PRV-0912A-10SnapGap set1060.00
    1PRV-0912A-50End Plate1515.00
    1N/ACustom 5X5 Clear Enclosure425425.00

    The following Parts may be obtained from Advanced Digital Logic, Inc. (858) 490-0597

    QuantityPart NumberDescriptionUnit PriceAmount 
    4801562PC104plus Pentium 266 MHZ CPU6422568.00
    4990725128 MB SO-DIMM S-DRAM58232.00
    4807005Opt. –P+ Option: PC/104plus short connector27108.00
    4807008Opt. –CF Compact Flash Socket modified for type II27108.00
    1802605MSM-CK Cable Kit to PC/1046767.00

    Links to Related Projects

    Ron Minnich and and other contributors to the most excellent LinuxBIOS Project were inspired to create the Bento Cluster after our Minicluster demonstration at Supercomputing 2001.

PC/104 Linux Minicluster mini-HowTo

After many inquiries at the SC01 meeting, I have decided to create a short HOWTO so that others can do us one better.  Here is a mini-HOWTO giving generalized parts and construction information for our cluster.