Beowulf is a design for high-performance parallel computing clusters on inexpensive personal computer hardware. Originally developed by Donald Becker at NASA, Beowulf systems are now deployed worldwide, chiefly in support of scientific computing.
A Beowulf cluster is a group of usually identical PC computers running an open source Unix-like operating system, such as Linux or BSD. They are networked into a small TCP/IP LAN, and have libraries and programs installed which allow processing to be shared among them.
There is no particular piece of software that defines a cluster as a Beowulf. Commonly used parallel processing libraries include MPI (Message Passing Interface) and PVM (Parallel Virtual Machine). Both of these permit the programmer to divide a task among a group of networked computers, and recollect the results of processing.
The name comes from the legend of Beowulf.
Presently, there are a number of different Linux distributions that are designed for building Beowulf clusters. These include:
- ClusterKnoppix (based on Knoppix)
- dyne:bolic (geared towards multimedia production)
- Rocks Linux
A cluster can be set up by using Knoppix bootable CDs in combination with openMosix. The computers will automatically link together, without need for complex configurations, to form a Beowulf cluster utilizing all CPUs and RAM in the cluster. This type of system is scalable to a nearly unlimited number of computers.
- Kentucky Linux Athlon Testbed (KLAT2)
- Stone Soupercomputer
- Carnegie Mellon University, Process Systems Engineering Beowulf Cluster
- SETI@home - Home computers networked to find Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence.
- Folding@home - Home computers networked to compute protein folding.
Other software solutions
- Maui Cluster Scheduler-open source
- TORQUE Resource Manager-open source
- Moab Cluster Suite-commercial
- Moab Grid Suite-commercial
- Automatic Parallelization Environment for Network of Workstations
- Computer cluster
- Grid computing
- Cluster Resources, Inc.