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LinuxWorld: Fast and cheap: Building supercomputers with off-the-shelf hardware

Apr 12, 2000, 02:04 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Rick Cook)

"Beowulf is a class of Linux-based supercomputers that offer unbeatable price-to-performance ratios on everything from animation to computational fluid dynamics. Most people will never own a Beowulf computer, but if you wanted to, you could build your own. Combining Linux and standard hardware, Beowulf computers are not just cheap; they also offer a way around many of the problems facing supercomputing today."

"The team at the Los Alamos National Laboratory built Avalon, the 256th fastest supercomputer in the world... for $152,000. By their estimate, a conventional supercomputer with equivalent performance would cost about $1 million today. Or, if $152,000 is too much for you, you can always do what the researchers at the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratories did, and build a Linux supercomputer for free..."

"Even if you purchase a system from a vendor, Linux-based supercomputers are still cheap. "A 16-node cluster is in the $25,000 range," says Tom Leingerber, the sales manager at Aspen Systems, a vendor of Linux-based supercomputers in Wheat Ridge, Colo. "In today's world you can get supercomputer power for workstation prices, and do tasks that used to take weeks in days or hours.""

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