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Using virtualization to reinvent high-performance computing on Linux

(Bill Weinberg, EntrepriseLinux) Virtualization has been the hot technology and certainly the killer app-enabler of the last several years, building on readily-available open source technology (e.g., Linux and Xen) with adoption marching in step with commercialization of commodity server and blade server hardware. Virtualization technologies for servers, desktops, embedded and mobile devices have, for the most part moved from exotic to mainstream. The broad range of use cases, includes hardware consolidation, legacy migration, trusted computing and highly-available systems.

An area that has yet to embrace virtualization is high-performance computing (HPC). Today's plummeting hardware costs bring "supercomputer" capabilities into SMB server-rooms and onto the engineering desktop. But HPC systems deployers remain leery of hypervisor technology. HPC systems and HPC-capable commodity hardware today account for nearly a fifth of the $55 billion worldwide server market (IDC), but represent only a blip in the growing virtualization software market.[...]

Parallel computing and clustering platforms
Legacy HPC systems boasted arrays of proprietary parallel vector processors that hosted specialized operating systems or versions of UNIX customized for HPC compute loads. Today, parallel computing systems and the processors that power them are increasingly based on "off the shelf" server-class microprocessors, such as IBM's Power Systems, AMD's Opteron or Intel's Xeon, and run stock or customized version of open source Linux.

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