value of the Beowulf cluster market

Paul Schenker pesch at
Wed Jun 26 01:00:03 PDT 2002

The genius concept of the Beowulf Cluster currently implies standard hardware - therefore it makes sense only to
count the Beowulf Cluster software for now.

It is foreseeable, though, that eventually dedicated cluster hardware will emerge which then will have to be
included in the market size.

Paul Schenker

"Robert G. Brown" wrote:

> On Tue, 25 Jun 2002, Dan Janies wrote:
> > Hello
> >
> > Does anyone know the current and or projected value of the Beowulf cluster
> > market?
> >
> > This may have been a recent thread but vigorous web/archive surfing didn't
> > produce.
> That's because the answer is probably "no".  To begin to build an
> answer, you'd have to define your terms pretty carefully.  I go to my
> local computer store and buy eight systems, a fast ethernet switch, add
> Linux, and put them together into a beowulf in my attic.  Have I
> participated in the "Beowulf Cluster Market" or just the generalized
> COTS PC market?  A rather large segment (in my unfounded opinion, a
> solid majority) of the beowulf clusters that exist are of this sort.
> There is a turnkey cluster market that is served by companies and
> individuals that do the buying, install a suitable Linux distribution,
> assemble the cluster for you, possibly accompanied by value-added
> software or custom features.  I don't know that anybody has ever done a
> formal analysis of the market -- one would have to figure out all the
> companies that do this and get annual reports for the last couple of
> years.
> As far as projected value is concerned, this is a double crapshoot --
> the turnkey market you MIGHT be able to estimate, but this is likely the
> tip of a large iceberg (even though there is some impressive ice out
> there).  The generalized homebrew market (including homemade rackmount,
> shelfmount, distributed/NOW/COW, and so forth) I wouldn't know how to
> begin to estimate.  Many clusters are very small (in my house I have a
> half-dozen nodes).  There are also a LOT of midsized clusters, and they
> add up.  In our department we have 68 nodes in six "distinct" small
> clusters (most of them dual processors) that are on a common network and
> CAN be used all together.
> The room is shared with another 30-40 nodes from the stats department.
> The math department also has a midsized cluster (maybe 64 nodes?).  Then
> there are chemistry clusters, biology clusters, genetics clusters -- all
> on one campus and in a couple of dozen research groups.  Very few of
> them were produced by turnkey vendors.
> So what's the "value" of this market to turnkey vendors?  I have no
> idea.  At a guess, only 1/5 or so of its "total" value, since beowulf
> clusters are by design easy to assemble out of commodity off the shelf
> parts.
>    rgb
> Robert G. Brown              
> Duke University Dept. of Physics, Box 90305
> Durham, N.C. 27708-0305
> Phone: 1-919-660-2567  Fax: 919-660-2525     email:rgb at
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