First time accepted submitter IamIanB writes "Harvard Middle Eastern Studies student Todd Mostak's first tangle with big data didn't go well; trying to process and map 40 million geolocated tweets from the Arab Spring uprising took days. So while taking a database course across town at MIT, he developed a massively parallel database that uses GeForce Titan GPUs to do the data processing. The system sees 70x performance increases over CPU-based systems, and can out crunch a 1000 node MapReduce cluster, in some cases. All for around $5,000 worth of hardware. Mostak plans to release the system under an open source license; you can play with a data set of 125 million tweets hosted at Harvard's WorldMap and see the millisecond response time."
I seem to recall a dedicated database query processor that worked by having a few hundred really small processors that was integrated with INGRES in the '80s.