Xbox clusters?

Robert G. Brown rgb at
Wed Nov 28 10:37:58 PST 2001

On Wed, 28 Nov 2001, Josip Loncaric wrote:

> Microsoft's Xbox packages a 733 MHz Pentium III, 64 megabytes of memory,
> a DVD drive, 100 Mbps Ethernet, and an 8-gigabyte hard disk for about
> $300.  This would make it a reasonably powerful cluster node with an
> excellent price/performance ratio.  Of course, the thing runs a
> slimmed-down variant of Windows 2000 instead of Linux, but has anyone
> discussed making an Xbox cluster?
> Sincerely,
> Josip

Dear Josip,

Case $60
Motherboard $100
Athlon XP 1500 $150
256 MB PC2100 DDR $40
100BT NIC $20
Total $370, with optional small HD and video $500-550.

Even assuming no better than direct clock speed scaling between the 1.4
GHz 1500 and the 733 MHz PIII, even ignoring the scalability and
manageability and parallel software support advantages of linux, even
ignoring the speed advantages of 256 MB of DDR over 64 MB of SDRAM, even
ignoring Amdahl's law (where one cpu at speed 2X is generally "better"
than two cpus at speed X) this still makes no economic sense, in that
aggregate 1467 MHz / 1400 MHz = 1.05 but $600/$500 = 1.2.  And you get
to run linux.  And you get the DDR.  And you get 2-3x the HD disk.  And
you don't have to run Windows or add to the greatest/worst monopoly the
world has ever seen.  And you get to choose your NIC.  And you get to
run linux.

I doubt it is worth it even for $250/node.  Perhaps $200.


Robert G. Brown	             
Duke University Dept. of Physics, Box 90305
Durham, N.C. 27708-0305
Phone: 1-919-660-2567  Fax: 919-660-2525     email:rgb at

More information about the Beowulf mailing list