Douglas Eadline has posted a brief history of parallel computing over at Admin HPC. From Beowulf clusters to multicore to hybrid computing, the industry continues to make the difficult into mainstream, and it’s nice to see this perspective from someone who’s been there from the get-go.
One of the driving slogans of early Beowulf Clusters was “cheaper, better, faster.” To a large degree, this has been the case. Because of the many changes in the market, it might be worthwhile to rethink how best to the use mainstream hardware for HPC. In many respects, the x86 HPC market has become legitimized, and it now shows up on many marketing pie charts. Other components of the HPC market, including interconnect, storage, and software, have also helped move HPC clusters from the back of labs and server rooms to the front of a respectable and sizable market. Given the hardware pressures facing the market, however, it might be time to set up some “wrong” hardware on those old shelves and see what happens.