Expanding the boundaries of the computer technology department, a group of students and a professor are working together to create the most powerful laptop in the world.
On top of achieving that feat, the group wants to create a Guinness World Record category for the Contra Costa College group to be the first to hold the title.
“I think under any definition it will be the most powerful laptop ever made,” computer science professor Tom Murphy said. “Doing this is the chance of a lifetime.”
The laptop, named “LittleAl,” is scheduled for completion sometime this month, in time for Murphy to present at a conference, he said.
LittleAl will have four high-speed quad-core processors inside an aluminum case, which will be the skin of the laptop.
Murphy said the laptop’s name comes from the chemical element, Aluminum, in which the computer’s case is made.
The case resembles the silver briefcases used by spies in movies.
“I needed something to be very eye-catching in an educational way,” Murphy said.
Where most high-performance laptops have no more than four gigabytes of memory to run multiple applications simultaneously, Murphy anticipates LittleAl to have 128 gigabytes.
Intel, a manufacturer of computer chips, has donated many of the parts to the group, such as processors and blade servers, Murphy said.
“I have basically no budget here at Contra Costa (College), so it’s nice to be getting donations,” he said.
One of the problems the group is facing is trying to make parts work with limited space and power, Murphy said.
While it can be placed on the lap like other conventional laptops, it would be clunky and uncomfortable for the user, he said.
The project gained momentum at the beginning of the spring semester when Murphy began to mention his undertaking during his computer technology classes. The idea of the laptop captured the interest of some of his students who joined the project shortly after.
“I thought this was a great opportunity to learn new things and could open doors at a university,” computer technology major Jesus Garcia said. “Murphy has years of knowledge, and I am trying to take advantage of that.”
Although Murphy is currently awaiting an approval from Guinness World Records for the induction of the category of “most powerful laptop,” some students see the project more as an educational opportunity.
“I just want to be in the project, because it’s something I wouldn’t experience anywhere else,” said Matt Choa, student in charge of the power and electrical aspects of LittleAl.
Murphy said that while education is absolutely important, experience is usually the far more important idea, and that is what they will receive from being a part of the project.
“People will walk away with experience for a resume,” he said. “They can demonstrate they really know what they’re doing and get hired.”