Cheyenne one of the most powerful supercomputers of 2016 is up for auction

Written by Guillaume
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Still the 160th most powerful supercomputer in the Top500 ranking for 2023, the Cheyenne is for sale, but beware of "hidden" costs.

Life is cruel in the world of supercomputers. While the Cheyenne isn't that old after all - the machine was only launched in 2016 after a few years of design - there already seems to be talk of putting it to bed, as evidenced by the auction organized by GSA and relayed by Wccftech. The auction will run for a few more hours, but so far it hasn't reached any real heights. We're only at just over $40,000, and the reserve price hasn't even been reached yet.


With an estimated 5.34 PFLOPS, the Cheyenne is a monster. It occupied 6th place in the Top500 rankings in 2016, before gradually slipping back to160th in the same rankings in November 2023, shortly before the decision to put it up for sale was made. The machine is built around Intel Xeon Broadwell E502697v4 processors, with a total of 145,152 cores distributed across 4032 nodes. These cores are assisted in their task by a whopping 313,344 GB of DDR4-2400 RAM, and we're talking about a total of 2016 1U servers arranged in 42 racks! Of course, such a machine requires an imposing management unit and a colossal cooling system. For the former, we're talking about no less than 26 1U servers with 10 extreme switches and 2 extreme switch power units. As for cooling, things are a little less clear-cut, but we're talking about a system that consumes almost as much power as the supercomputer itself!


The question of power consumption and cooling is one of the reasons why the Cheyenne has been shelved. For the managers of this type of supercomputer, it is more profitable to replace the entire system than to continue paying an exorbitant bill, and this is no doubt the reason for the lack of success of the Cheyenne auction. In addition to the cost of the machine itself, you need to think about the transport of a complete solution, which is likely to exceed 10 tonnes. The dismantling and reassembly of such a structure must also be ensured. The ad specifies that this must be carried out by a specialized company, and that the package does not include any cables. Finally, the electricity bill to operate such a machine needs to be taken into consideration, as some estimates suggest 8 Megawatts, divided into 4 to 5 for the supercomputer and 3 to 4 for the cooling system. In the end, we'll pass on our turn to run DriversCloud's servers!