[Beowulf] What's the category of Beowulf among Clusters?

Lux, James P james.p.lux at jpl.nasa.gov
Fri Dec 19 06:34:36 PST 2008

On 12/18/08 11:58 PM, "Eric Liang" <eric.l.2046 at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi all,
>      Clusters, Grids, MPPs, MPI, OpenMP, HA, LB, GPGPU, FPGA, SMP, NUMA,
> SSE etc..
>      These abbreviations and terms almost cram my head, so I have to
> redvelop and re-index them in my memory(brain).
>      As a newbie, when I read the articles in wikipekia, I got confused.
>      In the segment Cluster categorizations
> <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_cluster#Cluster_categorizations>
> of the article about Cluster
> <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_cluster>, there're three classes:
> High-avaiablity clusters, Load-balancing clusters and Grid
> computing(?!). While in the article about Parallel computing
> <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parallel_programming#Classes_of_parallel_compute
> rs>
> , both "Cluster computing" and "Grid computing" are the subclasses of
> "Distribute computing" ,and the third one is "Massive parallel
> processing ". IMHO, the latter category is more reasonable(right or not?) .
>      However, since there are too many cluster software products, how
> can I categorize Beowulf like clusters( loosely coupled, use MPI)? or
> what's the category of Beowulf like clusters?

I've been looking over the Beowulf book by Seamus Heaney, and I can't find
any reference to clusters in it, so maybe Wikipedia has been misled? Perhaps
it's a translation issue?<grin>

Beowulf -> the definition evolves.. But.. I'd say it's a bunch of
interconnected commodity computers intended to form a single computational
resource. Some would add "running open source software" Commodity is
important. It's not special purpose hardware, but leverages the economies of
scale to minimize cost.  Bunch of interconnected is important.(no vector
processors).  Single computational resource -> you can devote the entire
cluster to  just one problem, as opposed to, say, a mass of transaction
processing boxes or web servers in a high availability cluster.

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