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My "mainframe" boxen. (c. January 2024)


According to The Jargon File, "boxen" is defined as:

Fanciful plural of box often encountered in the phrase 'Unix boxen', used to describe commodity Unix hardware.


I know to many of you this'll seem pretty geeky... to others, it'll seem rather dull and ho-hum, or even unimpresive. But just like pet-owners or car enthusiasts, we computer geeks can be rather proud of our chosen passion, even when we haven't invested much money.

I've been into computers to some degree for several decades, starting as a teenager. Though admittedly early on I was just a kid playing with Basic and a handful of small DOS-based games on an original IBM PC with a 4.77MHz 8088 CPU.

One of the remaining driving forces for me to keep upgrading hardware these days is games, since unlike years ago, other applications aren't quite as dependant on hardware limitations.

However, with periodic upgrades of my main desktop PC, I've always used the left-over parts to build additional machines. In turn, these other boxen have benefitted from the hand-me-down parts with additional upgrades to my workstation. As a result, I have a large number of machines, but they cross the spectrum of the history of my upgrades, and vary in obsolescence.

I take great amusement, however, in knowing that even my slower computers, as old and obsolete as they are now compared to current PC hardware, stack up quite nicely in comparison to the super-computers I read about as a kid. Compare the following, for example:

The first Cray-1 Supercomputer, Installed in Los Alamos in 1976:

  • Speed: 133 MFLOPS (peak 250) / 160 MIPS
  • 80 MHz CPU Clock
  • 64-bit Word Size
  • 8 Megabytes RAM (50 ns)
  • Weight: 5.5 Tons including cooling
  • Power: 115 kW excluding cooling
  • Cost: $8.8-Million in 1976 dollars, excluding the disks
   My 200-MHz Pentium-MMX from roughly 1996 (which no longer exists):

  • Speed: Approximately 25-80 MFLOPS? 200 MIPS?
         (estimates, hard to research)
  • 200 MHz CPU Clock
  • 32-bit Word Size
  • 96 Megabytes RAM (probably 16 originally)
  • Cost: Given to me for free, since it was already obsolete

As you can see, the 200MHz Pentium would have to work longer to accomplish the same tasks as a Cray-1 (particularly when you take into account the optimizations that the Cray had for mathematical and scientific data processing), but similar tasks are within it's reach. At the time that the Pentium was produced, 96 MB of RAM would have been a luxury; However 16 or 32 MB would have been fairly common. I remember using about 48MB in my 150MHz machine for a while before upgrading to a new processor class.

The Cray-1 had over 200,000 logic gates, roughly similar to the Intel 386 from the 1980s. However, the Cray-1's logic was constructed with simple NAND ICs, without a microprocessor chip. (see more on wikipedia).

Yesterday's supercomputer, today's desktop, tomorrow's trash. :)

Poorly maintained network diagram:

network diagram

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My "mainframe" boxen. (c. August 2009)

The image to the left is my beastly box of technology, as it appeared around August of 2009. Most of the information on this page hadn't been updated in nearly 20 years, so I've decided to make this much more concise now. If you want to see the old page, which is no longer being maintained, you can click here.


  • [2024.01] Core i7-14700k + Gigabyte Z790 AORUS ELITE X AX LGA 1700 (2x CORSAIR Vengeance 96GB (2x48GB) DDR5-6600)
  • [2020.09] Core i7-10700k + ASUS Tuf Gaming Z490 Plus LGA 1200 (2x GSKILL F4-3600C18D-64GVK 64GB (2x32GB) DDR4-3600) [desktop -> server]
  • [2020.07] Server: Core i7-9800X + ASUS Prime X299-A II LGA 2066 (2x CORSAIR Vengeance LPX 64GB (2 x 32GB) DDR4-3600) [server]
  • [2018.10] Server: Core i7-8700 + Asus Prime H370-Plus (1x CORSAIR Vengeance CMU64GX4M4A2666C16R 64GB (4x16GB) DDR4-2666MHz) [server]
  • [2017.04] Core i7-7700k + Gigabyte Z270X-Ultra Gaming (1x CORSAIR CMU32GX4M2C3200C16 32GB (2x16GB) DDR4-3200MHz)
  • [2014.04] Core i7-4770k + Gigabyte Z87X-UD4H (1x CORSAIR CMY16GX3M2A2133C11 16GB (2x8GB) DDR3-2133)
  • [2010.12] Core i7-950 + Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R (1x CORSAIR TR3X6G1600C8 G 6GB (3x2GB) DDR3-1600) [desktop -> server]
  • [2009.11] Server: Core i5 + Asus P7P55D EVO (1x CORSAIR CMX4GX3M2A1600C9 4GB (2x2GB) PC3-12800 (DDR3-1600)) [server]
  • [2007.06] Core 2 Quad + Asus P35 P5K (2x Corsair TWIN2X2048-6400 2GB Kit)
  • [2006.07] Sempron/AM2 3000 + Gigabyte GA-M55plus-S3G (2x 512MB DDR2/667 PC2-5300)
  • [2006.05] Server: Opteron 242 (upgraded to 2x 270 later) + Asus K8N-DL nForce4 Pro (2x Kingston KVR400X72C3A/512 512MB DDR400 PC3200 CL3 ECC) [server]
  • [2004.02] P4 3.2 GHz + Asus P4P800 (1x Corsair TWINX1024-3200LLPRO 1GB Kit DDR400 XMS3200)

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