It's early in the hackathon, and many of the week's big projects haven't started yet. In fact, many of the big projects haven't even been conceived of yet. Typically, Day 1 is about getting set up, getting connected, and getting hacking on something, and though much of this hacking occurs on laptop, sometimes, you need access to the Big Iron.
There's two hack rooms this year. The second room is the "Big Iron" room. You can tell by the temperature—several degrees warmer than any other room in the Hotel. The source of this temperature difference lies underneath a pair of banquet tables lining one wall of the room. There you will find an eclectic stack of hardware, including a 1U dual AMD64, a CATS (ARM), a Via C3 (i386 with integrated crypto), a few SunBlades (sparc64), and some large i386es. In fact, just about any piece of hardware that isn't available in laptop form makes its way to the Big Iron room, stashed under one of these tables.
Though there is a monitor and keyboard available for really low-level work (like Niklas, poking bytes directly into the VGA textarea so he can debug early CPU initialization) most of the machines are wired to a console server. Whether you find yourself using the monitor, the serial console, or ssh is a good indicator of how low-level your development is.
Of course, Day 1 is also about jet-lag, making it either a really long, or really short day, depending on your perspective. It's a good day to rest up, suck down the source, and get the latest source tree built. There will be lots of time later in the week for hacking.