Online game for super geeks: Build your own supercomputer

So you think you can build a supercomputer? Purdue today rolled out an online game that will let you test those skills.

In a nutshell, Rack-A-Node players build a cluster supercomputer using a variety of computing types to run science experiments. A player begins with a small supercomputer and receives science jobs to process. For each completed job, the player gets more funding needed to build an even bigger supercomputer, according to a Purdue release.

Machines can be upgraded with different types of energy efficient nodes and if the machines run out of power players cannot add nodes. The idea is to build the most efficient machine possible, Purdue said.

According the game rules, some jobs require more memory, proceeding power or a faster network connection. How the player chooses to build and operate the machine will go a long way toward winning the game. Speed and efficiency are key.

The game begins with a chemistry job that requires a lot of memory, then a climate-modeling job, which is a high throughput task that needs faster network communication. Later, a 3-D science animation-rendering job requires multiple nodes to process. The game also includes jobs from life sciences, pharmacy, physics and engineering, according to Purdue.

The game was built to highlight Purdue's student team participating in the Cluster Challenge at the SC '08 supercomputer conference on Nov. 15-21 in Austin, Texas. University teams compete in the challenge to see who can build the best supercomputer in a day.

The online game can be played here.

Earlier this year Purdue university scientists and IT folks built a supercomputer in 24 hours or less in a massive electronic "barn-raising." The university's energy-efficient supercomputer uses a third of the energy of a conventional system.

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