Beowulf Clusters, Cost-Effective Supercomputing

Joel C. Adams

Department of Computer Science
Calvin College
Grand Rapids, MI


Researchers who need the power of a supercomputer face three problems: (1) Commercial supercomputers are very expensive. (2) The software to use and manage commercial supercomputers is proprietary, and therefore expensive to customize. (3) Investing in a supercomputer is risky, because its manufacturer may not be solvent when maintenance is needed.

Beowulf clustering is a high performance computing technology pioneered at NASA that solves these problems using inexpensive commodity hardware and free open-source software. This talk will describe several existing Beowulf clusters, detail how they differ, denote characteristics all Beowulfs have in common, and discuss our experiences building a Beowulf cluster at Calvin College.

Colloquia Series page.