WoTUG - The place for concurrent processes

Paper Details

%T Commodity High Performance Computing at Commodity Prices
%A Simon J. Cox, Denis A. Nicole, Kenji Takeda
%E Peter H. Welch, André W. P. Bakkers
%B Proceedings of WoTUG\-21: Architectures, Languages and Patterns for Parallel and Distributed Applications
%X 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\[rs] 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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