Supercomputers with a difference: the 'mini-cluster'

Supercomputers with a difference: the 'mini-cluster'

The 'Mini-Barebones' shuttle, also known as XPC, despite its minimalist dimensions, does not need to hide from its big brothers, we have already experienced first hand in the past. The fact that these systems now occupy 85th place in the supercomputer rankings is new.

Equipped with a Pentium 4 (FSB533), DDR333 and an optional AGP graphics card, the SS51G was able to perform in our test bravely claim against the full-blown desktop competition. Together with Beowulf , Shuttle has now put together the 'Space Simulator' cluster for American space research from 294 of these computers. With a 2.53 GHz Pentium 4 processor, 1 GB DDR333 SDRAM and an 80 GB Maxtor hard drive, the mainframe achieves 665.1 GFLOPS and is therefore at number 85 on the global supercomputer charts. According to Shuttle, the decisive factors for the deal were the low acquisition costs per client (less than $ 1000) and the low power consumption of each individual PC.

The 'Space Simulator' is a 294-processor Beowulf Cluster. It is based on the Shuttle Mini-XPC SS51G, which uses a heat pipe instead of a CPU fan for CPU cooling. The compact format of the XPC housing allowed us to place the cluster in half the space of the previous 144-processor Avalon cluster. Each individual node consists of a 2.53 GHz Pentium 4 processor, 1 GB DDR333 SDRAM, an 80 GB Maxtor hard drive and a 3Com 3D996B-T Gigabit Ethernet card. The cost of a single node stayed below $ 1000. The network switch consists of a Foundry FastIron 1500 switch that is trunking connected to another FastIron 800 switch, which provides a total of 304 Gigabit Ethernet ports via the 16-port JetCore modules.

The system was delivered at the end of September 2002. It achieves a Linpack performance of 665.1 GFLOPS on 288 processors in theOctober 2002 and thus occupied place 85 on the TOP 500 list of the fastest computers in the world.

The 'Space Simulator' cluster is in the 'Los Alamos National Laboratory' by the 'Theoretical Astrophysics group (T- 6) 'used to calculate simulations in the field of astrophysics. It serves as an extension to the 'Loki' and 'Avalon' cluster.

SS51G array