There's still time to bid on this decommissioned petaflop supercomputer including 8,064 Intel Xeon CPUs but no cables—local collection only

The decommissioned Cheyenne Supercomputer, emblazoned with a "Cheyenne" logo
(Image credit: US General Services Administration)

We're always on the hunt for hardware deals here at PC Gamer, but this might be a bit much even by our standards. The US General Services administration is currently auctioning off a decommissioned 5.34 petaflop supercomputer, and although the starting price was a mere $2,500, the top bid is currently $280,085. A bargain, we think you'll agree, but it does come with the odd issue.

The Cheyenne Super Computer was originally operated between January 2017 and December 2023 at the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing centre, and at the time of its installation was ranked as the 20th most powerful computer in the world (via Ars Technica). Many moons may have passed since then, but according to Wikipedia it still counted as the 160th most powerful as of last November, so it's not exactly a slouch even by modern standards.

Specs? Oh, nothing too excessive, just 8,064 Intel Xeon E5-2697v4 CPUs, each with 18 cores, a Turbo frequency of 3.6GHz and a 145W TDP. That's a total core count of 145,152, in combination with a combined total of 313,344 GB of DDR4-2400 RAM. However, the listing warns that you might have to keep an eye on that memory, as over its 7 years of operation "Approximately 1% of nodes experienced failure…primarily attributed to DIMMs with ECC errors, which will remain unrepaired"

There's a few other small factors to take into account, too. For a start, it doesn't come with any fibre optic or CAT5/6 cabling, which may add up to quite the additional expense if you do decide to pull the trigger. The listing also warns that:

"Moving this system necessitates the engagement of a professional moving company. Due to their considerable weight, the racks require experienced movers equipped with proper Professional Protection Equipment (PPE) to ensure safe handling. The purchaser assumes responsibility for transferring the racks from the facility onto trucks using their equipment."

Seems a bit excessive if you ask me, although I'm sure your pals would help out with the promise of beers and pizza once it's all finished. The water cooling system has also been dismantled and appears to have had some issues, as the listing notes that "the system is currently experiencing maintenance limitations due to faulty quick disconnects causing water spray". It is included with the sale, however, along with some used PGW cooling fluid, adding up to approximately 10 gallons per E-cell. 

Given there's 14 of them—each weighing 1,500 lbs each—that's 140 gallons of coolant you're expected to shift on top of the supercomputer units themselves, so I'd advise eating a hearty breakfast on moving day if you plan on giving your professional moving team a helping hand.

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Not only that, but you'll need quite the power connection. It's estimated that in its original role crunching data for advanced atmospheric and Earth sciences research, it was using around 1.7 megawatts of power. This being the case, I'd suggest calling up your electricity provider beforehand just to make sure you don't plunge the surrounding areas into darkness on first boot.

Still interested? Well, the auction finishes today at 6.11 PM US Central Time, so you'll have to get your skates on if you're thinking of making an offer. I have pitched it to the PC Gamer hardware team as a potential equipment purchase, but the consensus seems to be that while it may well fit in our offices, we'd all have to stand outside and look at it through the windows as there wouldn't be room for anything else. Boo.

Andy Edser
Hardware Writer

Andy built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 12, when IDE cables were a thing and high resolution wasn't. After spending over 15 years in the production industry overseeing a variety of live and recorded projects, he started writing his own PC hardware blog for a year in the hope that people might send him things. Sometimes they did.

Now working as a hardware writer for PC Gamer, Andy can be found quietly muttering to himself and drawing diagrams with his hands in thin air. It's best to leave him to it.