The availability of high-speed networks and increasingly powerful commodity microprocessors are making the usage of clusters, or networks, of computers an appealing vehicle for cost effective parallel computing. Clusters, built using commodity-of-the-shelf (COTS) hardware components as well as free, or commonly used, software, are playing a major role in redefining the concept of supercomputing. In this tutorial, we discuss the motivation for the transition from using dedicated parallel supercomputers, to COTS-based cluster supercomputers. We also describe the enabling technologies and then present a number of case studies of cluster-based projects to support our discussion. Finally, we summarise our findings and draw a number of conclusions relating to the usefulness and likely future of cluster computing. The question naturally arises: How does Clusters, redefine concepts of traditional supercomputing ?; How is this different from traditional supercomputing or MPP computing?; Are cluster offering a completely different programming paradigm?; Can one make a cluster based Supercomputer? and what are its implications of do so? This tutorial offers answers to these and other questions related to the use and exploitation of clusters as a vehicle for high-performance applications.
Rajkumar Buyya is a Research Scholar at the School of Computer Science and Software Engineering, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. He was awarded Dharma Ratnakara Memorial Trust Gold Medal for his academic excellence during 1992 by Kuvempu/Mysore University. He is co-author of books: Mastering C++ and Microprocessor x86 Programming; and recently, he has edited a two volume book on High Performance Cluster Computing: Architectures and Systems (Vol. 1); Programming and Application (Vol.2) published by Prentice Hall, USA. He served as Guest Editor for the special issues of international journals: Parallel and Distributed Computing Practices, Informatica: An International Journal of Computing and Informatics, and Journal of Supercomputing.
Rajkumar is a speaker in the IEEE Computer Society Chapter Tutorials Program and Chairman of the IEEE Computer Society Task Force on Cluster Computing. He has contrbuted to the development of HPCC system software environment for PARAM supercomputer developed by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, India.
[Back to Tutorials Page]