The coreboot project was started as part of clustering research work in the Cluster Reseach Lab at the Advanced Computing Laboratory at Los Alamos National Laboratory under the name of LinuxBIOS. The primary motivation behind the project was the desire to have the operating system gain control of a cluster node from power on. Other beneficial consequences of using coreboot include needing only two working motors to boot (cpu fan and power supply), fast boot times (current fastest is 3 seconds), and freedom from proprietary (buggy) BIOS code, to name a few. These secondary benefits are numerous and have helped gain support from many vendors in both the high performance computing as well as embedded computing markets.
Note that, on newer systems, there need be no moving parts at all. At LANL, we are building a new 'no moving parts' 16-node cluster to demonstrate this capability. The cluster will fit in a toolbox, run from a battery, boot in 10 seconds, and be controlled from your laptop (which, sadly, will still have a few moving parts).