How to Build Your Own IBM Watson

If you have been following the news keenly, you might know that the IBM-built Watson artificial intelligence supercomputer trounced two of game show Jeopardy!‘s most famous contestants recently. Developed under researcher David Ferrucci, the Watson supercomputer trounced Brad Rutter (winner of the biggest all-time money on the show) and Ken Jennings (record holder for the longest championship streak) in a two-game combined point match. All this is known to you, reader of Techie Buzz. But have you felt the urge to actually make your own supercomputer in your basement, provided you have enough money for the enterprise?

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If you did, then you have come to the right place. Tony Pearson, Master Inventor and Senior Managing Consultant for the IBM System Storage product line at the IBM Executive Briefing Center in Tucson Arizona, has written up an easy-to-follow article on how to build your own supercomputer, called the “Watson Jr.. The system incorporates 3 host servers (as opposed to the senior Watson’s 90 servers) and will approximately have 1 terabyte of storage in total. The supercomputer might not be as fancy as the Jeopardy! winning artificial intelligence but it does promise to be a fun summer project if you have enough time and money to invest in (and, of course, a large-enough space to house the computer in).

The basic needs of this computer are as follows:-

  • Three x86 hosts, with the following:
    • 64-bit quad-core processor, either Intel-VT or AMD-V capable,
    • 8GB of DRAM, or larger
    • 300GB of hard disk, or larger
    • CD or DVD Read/Write drive
    • 1GbE Ethernet
  • Computer Monitor, mouse and keyboard
  • Ethernet 1GbE 4-port hub, and appropriate RJ45 cables
  • Surge protector and Power strip
  • Local Console Monitor (LCM) 4-port switch (formerly known as a KVM switch)

I can see your hands itching to get to the meat of it, so do check out the tutorial on IBM’s website before going shopping!

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