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Australian IT: Student's budget super-PC; a Beowulf cluster for drug design

Feb 20, 2001, 21:55 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Ian Grayson)

[ Thanks to Phillip Brown for this link. ]

"A Victorian PhD student has built one of the world's fastest supercomputers out of PC chips and open-source software. Costing around $50,000, the supercomputer boasts performance superior to that of boxes costing more than $20 million. Kim Branson, who designed and built the computer as a PhD project, is using it to screen chemical compounds as part of research into new drugs."

"Caduceus was built using a Beowulf cluster developed by NASA in 1994. The design comprises 64 nodes, each powered by a 1GHz AMD Athlon processor and linked in a double helix shape. It is the fifth-largest cluster of its type in the world. The processors, donated by AMD, are the same as those used in conventional desktop computers."

"No-one else has built a dedicated cluster for drug design," Branson says. ... Caduceus's impressive performance is possible because it is designed for a specific task. It uses the Linux operating system, tweaked for this application. "Using open-source software such as Linux enables us to modify and tune it to our heart's content," Branson says."

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