Hannover (Germany) - Dual-core is as good as it gets these days and even if you stretch a bit, a workstation with four physical cores typically is the limit even for enthusiasts. Tyan, however, demonstrates a solution that delivers an extra punch of performance: The "Personal Super Computer" (PSC) can hold up to eight Opteron or Pentium D CPUs for a total of 16 physical cores.
The PSC is based on four boards that can hold up to two dual-core processors each. The AMD version supports Opteron 200 processors up to 64 GB of system memory; the Intel version Pentium 4 or Pentium D chips and up to 32 GB. Given its performance capability the desktop cluster comes in a fairly small package - the case measures 14 inches wide by 12.6 inches tall and 26.7 inches deep.
The boards come with four dedicated 350 watt power supplies and are interconnected via PCI-Express backplane and have two Gigabit Ethernet ports each for external connectivity. Up to four SATA hard drives can be installed. While power consumption should be expected to be substantial, Tyan promises that the system remains somewhat "quiet" at about 47 dB - which can be compared to the noise level generated by some performance case fans.
Tyan said that it is not aiming its clusters at gamers, as the graphics solution is an underpowered onboard 8 MB ATI Rage controller. Instead, the PSC is marketed towards scientific applications. With upgraded power supplies and some more graphics horsepower, the system, however, could become a capable solution for 3D graphic artists as several modeling programs including 3d Studio Max and Maya excel at distributed rendering. Linux enthusiasts may also like the new machine as there are several clustering oriented distributions including a version of Knoppix, aptly named ClusterKnoppix.
Tyan's Personal Super Computer is set to go into mass production in the second quarter. Pricing has not been announced.