The research abstract Computer Science Seminar Topics Beowulf System clearly explains what clusters are. It later proceeds to explain the Beowulf system as an important breakthrough in the area. Clusters are essentially a group of computers connected over a network, which work in tandem to look like a single computer to an outside user. Clustering is most widely recognized, as the ability to combine multiple systems in such a way that they provide services a single system could not. Clustering is used to achieve higher availability, scalability and easier management.
What is Beowulf: Beowulf was a cluster developed by Thomas Sterling of Center Excellence in Space Data and Flight Information Sciences(CESDIS) at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center,in 1994.That cluster employed 16 Intel 100MHz DX4 PCs each with 16 MB RAM and 2 Ethernet cards.
A typical Beowulf system may comprise 16 nodes interconnected by 100 base T Fast Ethernet. Each node may include a single Intel Pentium II or Digital Alpha 21164PC processor, 128-512 MBytes of DRAM, 3-30 GBytes of EIDE disk, a PCI bus backplane, and an assortment of other devices. At least one node called master node will have video card, monitor, keyboard, CD-ROM, floppy drive and so forth.
Beowulf is a parallel computer. It will not just run a uniprocessor “dusty deck” and benefit from all of the computing resources. A site must expect to run parallel programs, either acquired from others or developed in-house. A site without such skill base should probably not follow the Beowulf path. Beowulf is loosely coupled and is a distributed memory environment.
The research abstract suggests that clustering is a very cheap and efficient architecture for high performance computing. It can be a boon for countries like India where the educational institutions cannot afford a conventional supercomputer. This report suggests a design of infrastructure that makes managing such a cluster a very easy task.
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