Matt’s awesome chip desk

What does one do 434 discarded Itanium CPUs? Matt Tovey was inspired by our Chip Trivet, and used them to make this awesome computer desk.


The CPU modules were scrapped as the result of a supercomputer upgrade, and were presumably functional before having their heat sinks taken off– a herculean effort for that many CPUs! Matt says that the list price for the lot of chips was over US$800,000 in 2006 and that the desk contains about 2.8 TFLOPs of computing power, about the same
as 900 3.2GHz P4s.

Matt started with a plain desk, tiled in the CPUs, and added wooden edging and a beveled glass top. Nice work!

I just love the way that this desk looks. But it gives me an idea too– take it one step further, and what if it worked? You could use a single, giant PCB for the motherboard which sat underneath the glass surface of the desk. With that much area, you could fit in a lot of processing power. On the cheap (or moderately cheap), one could imagine instead filling the inside of a desk top with low-cost (even last-generation) PC motherboards to make a great looking beowulf cluster or render farm that doesn’t take up any desktop or rack-mount space.

Sadly, Matt’s page has moved on to the great /dev/null in the sky, but the mirror still shows some of the build photos.

15 thoughts on “Matt’s awesome chip desk

  1. Since it’s all solid state, the biggest change in making the desk actually work would be heat output. Good in the winter, but otherwise unimpressive.

    Now if the glass-enclosed desk computer were *mechanical*, that would be awesome!

    1. This is not a waste. Something great was made here from what would otherwise have been trash. Putting them in the dump, where they would have naturally ended up, would be a waste.

      Every year hundreds of millions of old cell phones and tens of millions of obsolete computers are simply discarded. Cases like this, where computers are instead upgraded– by just replacing a few parts– are a rarity that should be lauded. And, if the few scrap parts from such an upgrade get repurposed instead of tossed, everyone wins. Even if these chips were to be reused in low-end computers (a process almost certainly not worth the effort on a purely economic basis) they would still become obsolete and head for the landfill in a decade at most. A desk like this is a work of art that will continue to be fully functional for a lot longer than that.

      Windell H. Oskay

      1. “Even if these chips were to be reused in low-end computers (a process almost certainly not worth the effort on a purely economic basis)”

        Low end? These processors were $1,800 each a year ago. Using them as furnature is insane!

        1. Agreed, they should have at least given them away to some group that could make use of them. Or resell them, or something. I took a quick glance and you could get the rest of the hardware to drive a dual Itanium system for $1000 even. I’m guessing that’s not a bad deal for a lot of people.

          1. This is truly depressing. Imagine buying a 65" LCD TV, using it for a year and then bolting some legs to it and using it as a coffee table. That’s what this is.

  2. if you did make a giant computer out of it, you defineatly wouldn’t have to heat that room of the house!

  3. Anyone know why the dude’s blog was taken down? Hopefully it didn’t have to do with getting Dugg.

  4. I like the miniature French pattern locksmith’s hammer sticking out of the coffee cup.

  5. Actually.. with the price of those chips… it would be more like buying 400 TVs and then doing that to them.

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