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eWeek: Compute farms yield a fine crop of data

Mar 26, 2001, 20:56 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Alan Joch)

"The human genome, contained in a set of 23 chromosomes, is estimated to contain some 3.16 billion nucleo tides. The scientists who dig through that mountain of data to discern the mysteries of life demand an equally massive amount of raw, number-crunching power...."

"Compute farms are close relatives of server farms, which often underpin e-commerce and Web-hosting applications. But, while server farms are intended to process a large number of short transactions, compute farms typically process a small number of large jobs that can be easily split into parallel processes. The basic components of a compute farm consist of a bank of PCs, often two- or four-way boxes running Pentium or low-end RISC processors. Biogen's farm features dual-processor Pentium PCs running Red Hat Inc.'s Red Hat Linux...."

"It's a very generic Intel-based platform," Fuchs said. "As long as [an application] runs on Linux, we don't have to parallelize the underlying code. We write wrappers around the applications, and the wrappers break the processing jobs into small pieces. The central server then just collects the results."

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