Cluster is a widely used term meaning independent computers combined into a unified system through software and networking. At the most fundamental level, when two or more computers are used together to solve a problem, it is considered a cluster. Clusters are typically used for High Availability (HA) for greater reliability or High Performance Computing (HPC) to provide greater computational power than a single computer can provide.
Beowulf clusters are scalable performance clusters based on commodity hardware, on a private system network, with open source software (Linux) infrastructure. The designer can improve performance proportionally with added machines. The commodity hardware can be any of a number of mass-market, stand-alone compute nodes as simple as two networked computers each running Linux and sharing a file system or as complex as 1024 nodes with a high-speed, low-latency network.
• The Barcelona Supercomputer Center (ranked fourth) is built entirely with eServer blade systems from IBM.
• Lawrence Livermore ranks fifth with its Itanium2 cluster.
• The Virginia Tech cluster (ranked seventh) runs Apple XServe systems and Gbit Ethernet.
Blue Gene is an IBM supercomputing project dedicated to building a new family of supercomputers optimized for bandwidth, scalability, and the ability to handle large amounts of data while consuming a fraction of the power and floor space required by today's fastest systems.
1. how to get started with cluster computing, especially for those who have never done it before, and
2. how to get the most out of cluster computing and address serious application development that scales well.