Home-built LEGO PC donates its computing power to medical research
By Pawel Piejko
July 18, 2011
Most of the custom-built DIY PCs featuring unusual case mods are made just for fun or fashion. The LEGO-bodied PC by Mike Schropp is quite different, however, despite the fact it looks really impressive. It's a 12-core PC setup consisting of three systems in a single box made of LEGO, with its computing power being donated to medical research and humanitarian projects via IBM's World Community Grid project.
Grid computing is an initiative that allows individuals to take part in research projects by voluntarily devoting the unused computing time of their devices via a small downloadable program, thus essentially creating virtual supercomputers. Mike Schropp was about to change his custom PC setup anyway, so he decided to "use one of his geek hobbies in a way to help try and benefit others." His budget was just US$2,000. His aim was to make 100,000 crunching points per day (that's how computational power in grid computing community is measured) and to make the PC as energy efficient as possible.
The final DIY PC consists of three complete systems working as one in a single box made of LEGO bricks. Schropp used three quad-core Intel Core i7 2600K CPUs, three Asus P8P67 Micro ATX motherboards, three SSDs, a DDR3 memory for each system, as well as three coolers from Thermaltake and eight Aerocool fans. The DIY PC is powered by just a single Antec 1200 HCP power supply, which proves that Schropp was entirely successful in terms of energy efficiency.
The combined computing power of the three systems scores even more crunching points in the Community Grid project than Schropp had intended, with 135,000 points per day on average. The LEGO case mod is built of around 2,000 LEGO bricks, with some clear Lexan windows that were cut to fit the case.
"Instead of having 3 separate computers taking up my desk space I now have one system that functions as three," Mike Schropp wrote on his website, Total Geekdom. "I know it's just one system, but every little bit counts in finding cures and solutions."