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Paper Details

  title = "{C}ommodity {H}igh {P}erformance {C}omputing at {C}ommodity {P}rices",
  author= "Cox, Simon J. and Nicole, Denis A. and Takeda, Kenji",
  editor= "Welch, Peter H. and Bakkers, Andr\`{e} W. P.",
  pages = "19--26",
  booktitle= "{P}roceedings of {W}o{TUG}-21: {A}rchitectures, {L}anguages and {P}atterns for {P}arallel and {D}istributed {A}pplications",
  isbn= "90 5199 391 9",
  year= "1998",
  month= "mar",
  abstract= "The entry price of supercomputing has traditionally been
     very high. As processing elements, operating systems, and
     switch technology become cheap commodity parts, building a
     powerful supercomputer at a fraction of the price of a
     proprietrary system becomes realistic. We have recently
     purchased, in support of both our local and national
     collaborations, a dedicated computational cluster of eight
     DEC Alpha workstations. Each node has a 500MHz AXP 21164A
     processor with 256Mb memory running Windows NT 4.0 and cost
     under 6000 pounds. They are connected by 100Mb/s switched
     ethernet. In this paper we discuss some of the issues raised
     by our choice of processor, operating system and
     interconnection network. The results we present indicate
     that the cluster is fully competitive with systems from
     major vendors for a wide range of engineering and science
     applications, and at a lower cost by at least a factor of
     three. Indeed the only current area of under-performance
     relative to these vendors' high-end offerings is the
     inter-node network bandwidth and latency. We give some
     initial results indicating how the network performance might
     be improved under Windows NT."

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