Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Ball State Creates Supercomputer from Old Desktop Computers. (Tech Briefs)

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Ball State Creates Supercomputer from Old Desktop Computers. (Tech Briefs)

Article excerpt

MUNCIE, IND.

Discarded personal computers have been used to create a supercomputer at Ball State University. The effort, known as the Cluster Computer Research Project, involved collecting unwanted personal computers from a former lab in the school's College of Business and deploying them to build a computing machine designed to process complex mathematical problems for faculty research.

Students built the supercomputer at a fraction of the cost of a new one, says Dr. Fred Kitchens, management professor and faculty director of the project.

"A new system will cost an average of $8 million and a lease runs about $1 million annually. By using donated computers and having students set it up, the price tag for our unit is about $500," he says.

The newly created system is based on the Beowulf-class supercomputers, named for the Scandinavian hero in the Old English epic.

"The world's fastest computers, including IBM's Deep Blue, are actually clusters of computers rather than a single unit," Kitchens says. "The Beowulf system was selected because the design accepts any computer, no matter what its speed, configuration or manufacturer. …

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