The Stone SouperComputer is no longer in operation,
but this page stands as a tribute to its original design and development.

Of particular historical interest is the Beowulf II Pledge-A-Thon held early in 2001. Also fascinating to look at are the Stone SouperComputer Node Specifications from a time when the cluster contained 128 nodes.

Forrest Hoffman, 27 August 2003

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The Stone SouperComputer

ORNL's First Beowulf-Style Parallel Computer

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Forrest M. Hoffman, William W. Hargrove, and Andrew J. Schultz

The Do-It-Yourself Supercomputer
from Scientific American (Vol. 265, No. 2, pp. 72-79)
by William W. Hargrove, Forrest M. Hoffman, and Thomas Sterling
(August 2001)

Stone SouperComputer Photos Available

Read about the Stone SouperComputer In the News!


Lineup of original 486 PCs on the floor of the computer room While our first Beowulf-style parallel computer isn't built out of the most impressive hardware, we got tired of fighting for funding and went ahead with what we could find. Much like the classic Tale of Stone Soup, many individuals contributed to the existing machine*. Because of a complete lack of funding, we used surplus personal computers donated by individuals from ORNL, the Procurement Dept., Y-12, and K-25, to build a parallel computer system which uses public domain compilers and message passing libraries. This system was built at literally no cost.

No Cost Parallel Computing

We are adding more nodes every week. Click here to donate your personal computer equipment to the Stone SouperComputer. And be sure to tell your friends.

Cables and cords everywhere

People are often interested in the price-to-performance ratio of their computer systems. Since our cost was approximately nothing, any performance results in a zero price-to-performance ratio:

(Price)/(Performance) -> 0

Performance-to-price is more interesting. If we get any performance at all, the performance-to-price ratio goes quickly to infinity.

(Performance)/(Price) -> Infinity

As soon as you login, we all win!!

The system has already been used to develop software for large-scale landscape analysis and more applications are pending. As interest in the project increases and as applications are ported to the machine, we expect further contributions of hardware or even funding (just like the Tale of Stone Soup) that will result in a top-of-the-line, high performance parallel computer dedicated to solving scientific problems.

* The name "Stone SouperComputer" was suggested to us by the honorable John Bell at ORNL.

Oak Ridge National Lab - Beowulf Style - Stone SouperComputer

The system is configured as one front-end system and the rest as compute nodes. The compute nodes share a private ethernet; the front-end system is connected to the private ethernet and to the Internet. Each of the PCs in the system has:

  • Mostly Intel 486DX-2/66 CPUs and an increasing number of Pentiums, with every kind of motherboard imaginable (can you say heterogeneous?). And now we have Compaq/DEC Alpha CPUs as well.
  • 16-32 MB memory (most have 32 MB)
  • 400-600 MB disk
  • 10 Mb/s ethernet adapter


Nodes in Cluster
1 3 3
Pentium Nodes
  5 3
Alpha Nodes


(_)Beowulf WWW Sites

(_)Links to Other Beowulf Computers

. . . and then there is the original Beowulf manuscript and Beowulf text.

(_)Beowulf (or Beowulf-Infiltrated) Events and Conferences

(_)Programming Resources

(_)Linux Resources

(_)Other Stone Soups

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Stone Soup

This Site vi powered Forrest M. Hoffman, William W. Hargrove, and Andrew J. Schultz
Created: Wednesday, August 27, 1997
This page is available at
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