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

“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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