Computing Cluster Supercomputer
Recently, scientists at universities and national labs
have constructed supercomputers
by linking inexpensive PCs in a computing cluster,
and this concept promises to revolutionize the computing field.
The NASA researchers named their cluster Beowulf and this name
has been widely adopted to refer to any low-cost cluster of commercial PCs.
The Linux operating system is ideal for clustered PCs.
The PCs coordinate their tasks by sending messages to one another,
and two popular systems for doing this that are available free
on the Internet are
message-passing interface (MPI) and parallel virtual machine (PVM).
The Oak Ridge National Lab cluster consists of 130 PCs;
one machine serves as the front-end node for the cluster and it
has two Ethernet cards, one for communicating with users and one
for communicating with the other PCs.
For details see "The Do-It-Yourself Supercomputer"
by Hargrove, Huffman, and Sterling,
Scientific American, August 2001, pp.72-79:
and the following sites:
This project entails networking 4-10 PCs into a cluster,
obtaining and installing the Linux operating system,
obtaining an appropriate parallel programming algorithm
for the usual master-slave arrangement,
getting everything operational, and obtaining sample results.
Free versions of Linux are available and Pace technical support staff,
Mike Sidaras and Tom Lombardi,
will supply the PCs in Room 406 of the Graduate Center.