Cluster Computing: The Commodity Supercomputing

Level of Presentation: 50% Begineer, 30% Intermediate, 20% Advanced
High speed network and improved microprocessor performance are making networks of workstations an appealing vehicle for parallel computing. By relying solely on commodity hardware and software, network of workstations can offer parallel processing at low cost. Hence, high performance computing on commodity hardware is gaining wide acceptance over traditional high cost supercomputing. This new wave in high performance computing is popularly called as Cluster Computing--HPC on Network of Workstations (NOW) or Cluster of Workstations (COW). In cluster based supercompting, multiple uniprocessor or SMP systems (workstations or PCs) are interconnected together using a low-latency and high bandwidth interconnection networks.

The question naturally arises: How does Clusters, redefine concepts of traditional supercomputing ?; How is this different from traditional supercomputing or MPP computing?; Is this offers a completely different programming paradigm?; How one can make a Cluster based Supercomputer and what are its implications? This tutorial offers answer to all these questions and will also go beyond the hype. This tutorial will starts with defining clusters with making clear distinction from parallel/distributed systems and then focuses on cluster enabling technologies, hardware and software structures with emphasizing on recipe for building your own cluster. The second part of this tutorial discusses, Single System Image and Programming Models, which includes operating systems, shared and distributed memory model, message passing, Java for HPC, levels of single system image and SSI for System Administration with example system, PARMON, a cluster monitoring system. The third part of the tutorial focuses on Cluster Communication, which includes effects of latency and bandwidth, Light Weight Communication Protocols, Active Messages Programming Model and its implementation, Kernel Active Messages, Fast Sockets, TCP/IP over Active Messages, MPI over Active Messages. This tutorial concludes with discussion on works carried out by various research laboratories all over the world on Cluster Computing and generating interest for building Cluster based Supercomputer using commodity components by your own.