[rescue] DIY-blade?

Dan Duncan dand at pcisys.net
Wed Feb 25 11:07:44 CST 2004

On Wed, 25 Feb 2004, Eric Webb wrote:
> Not that there would be much to gain for those of us with home labs, but has
> anyone ever thought of a cheap way to build a blade-like system?  Basically,
> a bunch of single-board computers with some kind of backplane (or not,
> doesn't have to be fancy...  goal is high-density)?  I know there are SBC
> P4's out there, but I'd rather not be limited to x86.  Mini-ITX is another
> idea (once again x86), but performance-limited.

I had a bunch of single board computers mounted into drive bays
in a tower case once.  (the case also held a standard motherboard)
I had (still have if anyone wants them) some SBCs that had 486-50
cpus on them.  They had onboard scsi, ide, floppy, kb, 2 ser, par,
and PC104 connections.  There was an onboard jumper so the console
ACTUALLY went through com1, so I could go into BIOS and watch it
POST and everything.  (Old hat for unix stuff, but on a peecee?)
At the time I really only did it so I could tell people "It's not
A computer, it's *5* computers" and I didn't have enough serial
ports on the host to use all the consoles at once, and I never
picked up the PC104 ethernet boards I'd planned on, or... well,
anyway, nothing really ever came of it.

I was playing around on Ebay's dangerous "going, going, gone" listings
for computers once and saw a lot of systems from ClearCube.  These
were basically x86 blades where each rack-mount chassis held about
a dozen blades.  Each blade had somewhere around a 500MHz celeron
cpu, standard SDRAM slots, and an IDE drive bay.  Somewhere around
256MB ram and a 10-20GB HD were included for each.  The cool part
was how the heads worked.  The chassis had connections for ethernet
for each blade, and then an RJ45 console port for each blade.  You
were meant to run a CAT5 up to a few hundred feet and you put a remote
console breakout box at each desk.  The box was about the size of
a VHS cassette and had connections for VGA, kb, mouse, and audio.
I think it had USB as well.  I don't know how well it all worked.  I
scrambled frantically to find user experiences with the equipment
and was tempted to buy it.  There were 3 chassis, 36 blades, console
heads included, 15" monitors included (if desired), and keyboards
and mice.  I think it was listed at about $100 a blade.  This was a
while back, so $100 a head was tempting...  I might have gone for
one full chassis.

If you do come up with a reasonable way to do it, I might be
interested.  You could use VNC as your head interface and
you wouldn't be limited as to platform.


#  Dan Duncan (kd4igw)  dand at pcisys.net  http://pcisys.net/~dand
# Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is
# time to reform.      - M. Twain

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