A cluster is a type of parallel or distributed processing system, which consists of a collection of interconnected stand-alone computers co - operatively working together as a single, integrated computing resource
This cluster of computers shares common network characteristics like the same namespace and it is available to other computers on the network as a single resource
High cost of ‘traditional’ High Performance Computing:
Clustering using Commercial off the Shelf is way cheaper than buying specialized machines for computing.
Increased need for High Performance Computing:
As processing power becomes available, applications which require enormous amount of processing, like weather modeling are becoming more common place requiring the high performance computing provided by Clusters
Myricom offers cards and switches that interconnect at speeds of up to 1.28 Gbps in each direction. The cards come in two different forms, copper-based and optical
Giganet is the first vendor of Virtual Interface (VI) architecture cards for the Linux platform, in their cLAN cards and switches.It uses its own network communications protocol rather than IP to exchange data directly between the servers, and it is not intended to be a WAN routable system.
Basically, the Beowulf architecture is a multi-computer architecture that is used for parallel computation applications. Therefore, Beowulf clusters are primarily meant only for processor-intensive and number crunching applications and definitely not for storage applications.
Parallel programming requires skill and creativity and may be more challenging than assembling the hardware of a Beowulf system. The most common model for programming Beowulf clusters is a master-slave arrangement. In this model, one node acts as the master, directing the computations performed by one or more tiers of slave nodes.
Using parallel language such as High Performance Fortran and OpenMP
. The High Performance Fortran Forum (HPFF), a coalition of industry, academic and laboratory representatives, works to define a set of extensions to Fortran 90 known collectively as High Performance Fortran (HPF). HPF extensions provide access to high-performance architecture features while maintaining portability across platforms.
It contains routines for solving systems of linear equations .Most machine dependencies are limited to two standard libraries called the PBLAS, or Parallel Basic Linear Algebra Subroutines, and the BLACS ,or the BLACS, or Basic Linear Algebra Communication Subroutines.
PETSc facilitates the integration of independently developed application modules, which often most naturally employ different coding styles and data structures.
The concept of clusters is an empowering force . It wrests high-level computing away from the privileged few and makes low-cost parallel-processing systems available to those with modest resources. Research groups, high schools, colleges or small businesses can build or buy their own Beowulf clusters, realizing the promise of a supercomputer in every basement.