A high-end gaming personal computer can set you back around $5,000, a top-of-the-range Macbook around the same. 

Chump change, however, compared to what you might end up paying for the Cheyenne, a former US government ‘super computer’ that has been on auction for a week and is going-going but not yet gone, with the latest bid a round of drinks over $480,000.

The auction was to close on May 5 with the highest bid to “be considered for award of the sale,” albeit with the US government reserving for itself “the right to reject any and all bids for any reason.”

The machine was listed as the world’s 20th most powerful when it was installed in 2016 at the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center, where a 5.34-petaflops system helped scientists do “transformative research,” according to the US National Science Foundation. 

Among the projects undertaken using the truck-sized machine, which can run up to 3 billion calculations a second, were “increasingly detailed models simulating complex processes and how they might unfold in the future” and “extremely high-resolution global simulations of the atmosphere.” 

Any successful bidder will need some help, however, when it is time to pick up his or her new toy. And he or she can forget about lounging around in the nearest cafe, pretending to work like a so-called digital nomad.

“Moving this system necessitates the engagement of a professional moving company,” according to the auctioneers at the US General Services Administration (GSA), citing the “considerable weight” of the device.

According to the GSA, the Cheyenne is made up of 14 sections weighing almost 700 kg apiece, as well as two more sections, or racks, weighing almost twice as much again.

“The purchaser assumes responsibility for transferring the racks from the facility onto trucks using their equipment,” the GSA warned, adding that the buyer will need to separately get hold of fiber optic and other cables to run the machine.

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