Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Linking PC's To Form "Supercomputers" -- Beowulf Clusters Can Often Be A Faster Cheaper Option

Date:
January 12, 2000
Source:
Penn State
Summary:
A Penn State engineering professor says low-cost personal computers linked to form systems with supercomputer-like capabilities – popularly known as Beowulf clusters - can be a faster, cheaper alternative for many chemists, physicists, aeronautical engineers, electrical engineers and others who now have to wait to use machines at national supercomputer centers.

University Park, Pa. – A Penn State engineering professor says low-cost personal computers linked to form systems with supercomputer-like capabilities – popularly known as Beowulf clusters - can be a faster, cheaper alternative for many chemists, physicists, aeronautical engineers, electrical engineers and others who now have to wait to use machines at national supercomputer centers.

Dr. Lyle Long, professor of aerospace engineering, says, "Lots of people who are using supercomputer centers are running only 16 processors at a time. They may find it more convenient to use these kinds of clusters and to leave the supercomputers to those who need 200 or more processors.

"There are some very important scientific questions in surface chemistry, supercritical fluids, quantum Monte Carlo, chemical kinetics and aeroacoustics that can be tackled using relatively small-scale molecular dynamics, Monte Carlo, integral methods, or finite differences codes," he adds.

"However, one often needs to run these codes repeatedly to either build up statistical data or vary input parameters. One can very easily use the Message Passing Interface (MPI) paradigm, which is free and can be downloaded from the Internet, combined with the Fortran or C programming languages, to run thousands of different cases in a very short amount of time."

The Penn State research detailed two different illustrative applications in a paper, Self-Scheduling Parallel Methods for Multiple Serial Codes with Application to WOPWOP, Tuesday, Jan. 11, at the 38th Aerospace Science Meeting and Exhibit, in Reno, Nevada. His co-author is Dr. Kenneth S. Brentner, senior research engineer, computational modeling and simulation branch, NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va. Long ran the examples on Penn State's COCOA, the cost effective computing Array, a 50-processor cluster of off-the-shelf PCs connected via fast Ethernet. The system, built to study complex fluid dynamics, has 13 gigabytes of RAM memory and 100 gigabytes of disk space. It cost about $100,000 in 1998 and would cost about half of that today. A supercomputer of similar power would cost about $750,000. Details on COCOA are at http://cocoa.aero.psu.edu/

"One of the real benefits of inexpensive machines is that they do not have to be shared with hundreds of other users, and we do not have to wait days in a queuing system," Long notes. "We quite often have to wait hours or days at a supercomputer center just to use a few processors. In addition, while it is quite difficult to get 50,000 CPU hours at a supercomputer center, the COCOA Beowulf cluster provides more than 400,000 CPU hours per year. Furthermore, processors on parallel supercomputers are usually, at most, twice as fast as these PC processors for large production codes."

In their paper, Long and Brentner describe a self-scheduling version of the WOPWOP aeroacoustics code, a standard tool used to predict helicopter noise.

"The WOPWOP code is a relatively small, computationally efficient code that can compute the noise signal from a helicopter rotor in tens of seconds (in some cases) on a scientific workstation," the authors explain. "Although this sounds like a small amount of time, it is not unusual to compute the noise at thousands of observer locations on a surface to characterize the noise directivity. For example, if the computation for a single observer takes only 30 seconds but there are 1024 observer locations, the total CPU time required will still be more than 8.5 CPU hours."

The researchers used WOPWOP to compute a time history with 512 points at 400 observer locations using three systems with 48 processors: COCOA, a Cray T3E and an SGI 0rigin 2000. COCOA took 127 seconds, the Cray 177 seconds and the SGI 0rigin 2000 just 95. The authors conclude that the results show that "PC clusters can be very effective computing platforms for problems such as these."

Long and graduate research assistant Anirudh Modi have also used COCOA to study the use of Beowulf clusters to predict the full three-dimensional, unsteady, separated flow around complex ship and helicopter geometries which usually requires immense computing resources. They used a modified version of the flow solver, Parallel Unstructured Maritime Aerodynamics (PUMA) and NASA's VGRID package to generate unstructured grids in order to maximize the number of cells in the area of interest while minimizing cells in the far field. COCOA was found to be extremely suitable for the calculations, generating a complete, fast and efficient unstructured grid based flow solution around several complex geometries.

"I see a trend to Beowulf clusters. We're already working on our next cluster. The price just falls every year," adds the Penn State engineer.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Penn State. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Penn State. "Linking PC's To Form "Supercomputers" -- Beowulf Clusters Can Often Be A Faster Cheaper Option." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 January 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/01/000112075104.htm>.
Penn State. (2000, January 12). Linking PC's To Form "Supercomputers" -- Beowulf Clusters Can Often Be A Faster Cheaper Option. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/01/000112075104.htm
Penn State. "Linking PC's To Form "Supercomputers" -- Beowulf Clusters Can Often Be A Faster Cheaper Option." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/01/000112075104.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Computers & Math News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Thanks, Marty McFly! Hoverboards Could Be Coming In 2015

Thanks, Marty McFly! Hoverboards Could Be Coming In 2015

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) If you've ever watched "Back to the Future Part II" and wanted to get your hands on a hoverboard, well, you might soon be in luck. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robots to Fly Planes Where Humans Can't

Robots to Fly Planes Where Humans Can't

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 21, 2014) Researchers in South Korea are developing a robotic pilot that could potentially replace humans in the cockpit. Unlike drones and autopilot programs which are configured for specific aircraft, the robots' humanoid design will allow it to fly any type of plane with no additional sensors. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Japanese Scientists Unveil Floating 3D Projection

Japanese Scientists Unveil Floating 3D Projection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 20, 2014) Scientists in Tokyo have demonstrated what they say is the world's first 3D projection that floats in mid air. A laser that fires a pulse up to a thousand times a second superheats molecules in the air, creating a spark which can be guided to certain points in the air to shape what the human eye perceives as an image. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Apple Enters Mobile Payment Business

Apple Enters Mobile Payment Business

AP (Oct. 20, 2014) Apple is making a strategic bet with the launch of Apple Pay, the mobile pay service aimed at turning your iPhone into your wallet. (Oct. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins