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

[ 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

“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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