Core i7 Extreme vs. A4 Cluster
The Core i7 3970X Extreme Edition is the highest end desktop CPU on Newegg.com. To match it's 32nm process, the cheapest desktop CPU on Newegg is the AMD A4 3300. I've put together a motherboard, power supply and 2GB RAM for the A4 and it came to $135 shipped. The i7 3970X alone is $1080 shipped. It so happens that 1080/135 = 8 which means one can build 8 A4 desktop systems for the same price as the Core i7 3970X alone.
Using Linux to cluster the 8 A4 systems then running a FLOPS benchmark (I use the Pelican HPC distro) will let us know how many FLOPS the cluster can perform. Adding a basic motherboard, power supply and 2GB RAM to the Core i7 3970X (and noting the prices of course) combined with the same FLOPS benchmark as the cluster, will give the performance of the Extreme Edition alone.
I'd imagine the parallel nature of a cluster will perform faster FLOPS than a single system but it's just speculation until it's actually performed. The comparison of the two performances will be interesting on multiple levels - can the single Intel CPU calculate more FLOPS than a cluster of AMD A4's? Which build consumes more electricity? Pricing is interesting also since 8 complete A4 systems can be built with the same amount of money as the Extreme Edition is by itself.
Any thoughts on this? Better yet, anyone willing to give this a try? I certainly don't have the funds to pull off a test like this.