August 27, 2001

The do-it-yourself supercomputer

Author: JT Smith

SCIAM: "Most conventional supercomputers
employ parallel processing: they contain arrays of ultrafast microprocessors that work in tandem to
solve complex problems such as forecasting the weather or simulating a nuclear explosion. Made
by IBM, Cray and other computer vendors, the machines typically cost tens of millions of dollars--far
too much for a research team with a modest budget. So over the past few years, scientists at
national laboratories and universities have learned how to construct their own supercomputers by
linking inexpensive PCs and writing software that allows these ordinary computers to tackle
extraordinary problems."

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