Cluster Computing: The Commodity Supercomputing
The availability of high-speed networks and increasingly powerful commodity microprocessors is making the usage of clusters, or networks, of computers an appealing vehicle for cost effective parallel computing. Clusters, built using commodity-of-the-shelf (COTS) hardware components as well as free, or commonly used, software, are playing a major role in redefining the concept of supercomputing. In this paper, we discuss the motivation for the transition from using dedicated parallel supercomputers, to COTS-based cluster supercomputers. We also describe the enabling technologies and then present a number of case studies of cluster-based projects to support our discussion. Finally, we summarise our findings and draw a number of conclusions relating to the usefulness and likely future of cluster computing.
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Appeared in: Software - Practice & Experience, John Wiley & Sons, Inc