We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
80,258 News Articles

Bicycle-powered supercomputer claims record

MIT boffins power high-end system for 20 mins

A bicycle-powered supercomputer has been unveiled at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), with a team of ten MIT students claiming to have achieved a the world record for human-powered computing (HPC).

They powered a SiCortex SC648 supercomputer with a Linux cluster of 648 CPUs and almost 1TB of main memory in a single cabinet for twenty minutes. The system is low-powered and draws 1,200W without needing special power supplies or cooling.

An SC648 chip, with six processors on it, draws around 8W of power, which compares to a typical notebook computer CPU needing 100W, according to SiCortex CEO Joh Mucci.Other supercomputers draw tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of watts.

The ten cyclists pedalled their bikes, set on stands, with the wheels driving dynamos to generate direct current power which was converted into the alternating current needed. The supercomputer modelled a nuclear fusion reaction.

A spokesperson said that the human-powered session produced more computations than took place in the first 3,000 years of civilisation. He also said that more arithmetic calculations were computed than were done on the entire earth up to 1960.

The MIT team was highlighting the need for sustainable energy supplies, competing for a Google prize and also for an entry in the Guinness Book of Records. Google and a bike company have sponsored an Innovate or Die contest with contestants having to use bike power and post a video of their submission on Google-owned YouTube to win $5,000 for the team and a specialised bike for each member. Five members pedalled for the Google prize and a ten-member team pedalled for the Guinness Book of Records entry.


IDG UK Sites

Best January sales 2015 UK tech deals LIVE: Best New Year bargains and savings on phones, tablets,...

IDG UK Sites

Chromebooks: ready for the prime time (but not for everybody)

IDG UK Sites

2015 visual trends: 20 leading designers & artists reveal what should be inspiring us in 2015

IDG UK Sites

Mac tips tricks & hacks: 10 things you didn't know your Mac could do