Beowulf Bash Returns to Dallas for SC18 with Live Cluster Build

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The Beowulf community will be featured prominently in the SC 30th Anniversary Exhibit at SC18 in Dallas next week. Beowulf is a methodology that uses open software to connect a local cluster of commodity-grade hardware into a single processing element. What began as a disruptive idea in 1993 has fundamentally changed the trajectory of supercomputing, and its influence has filtered down into nearly every aspect of High Performance Computing today.

The Beowulf contribution to the SC 30th Anniversary Exhibit provides two perspectives on what Beowulf has contributed to HPC. The first is a look backwards through a 15-minute documentary describing the genesis and eventual dominance of the Beowulf approach to modern HPC. The video, entitled The Beowulf Disruption: Changing the Course of HPC, will be shown on a loop in the Beowulf Community Lounge and includes a retrospective and interviews from Thomas Sterling, Don Becker, Jon ‘Maddog’ Hall, Jeff Squyres, Jack Dongarra, and other contributors.

Many of these early pioneers will be visiting the Beowulf Community Lounge to meet and discuss Beowulf computing throughout the SC18 conference. Beowulf co-founder Thomas Sterling notes, “This video highlights many key players and aspects of the Beowulf movement and its impact on HPC. Both the determination of early pioneers and an open collaborative environment helped democratize HPC across the many areas of science and technology.”

The second perspective is a look forward to how the Beowulf concept translates into modern day HPC. As an example, a fully functional and high performance desk-side Beowulf cluster will be built from start to finish during the show, including some components that will be 3D-printed on site. Attendees can watch as the parts are printed and used to fit commodity motherboards into a desk-side case. 3D printing follows the Open Source tradition of providing users the freedom to define the geometry of computing systems.

Douglas Eadline, Founder of the Limulus Personal Cluster Project, will be on hand to oversee the process and answer questions. “Although many of today’s large clusters owe their heritage to Beowulf, this open commodity approach to HPC can also be seen at all levels, from Raspberry Pi clusters to 3D-printed personal cluster systems,” said Eadline. “Having choice means that if there is a need, anything that can get built, will get built. To aid in this process, Basement Supercomputing will be making all Limulus 3D printing files (STL files) available under a public license to the Limulus Project.”

The Beowulf Community Lounge and retrospective video were made possible by generous contributions from cornerstone sponsor AMD, along with IBM, R-Systems, and Basement Supercomputing. The Beowulf community invites you to a Beowulf Bash on Monday night in Dallas, November 12, from 9pm–midnight.

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