ITHACA, NY--Cornell University researchers may have created the most cost-effective supercomputer in a project that linked off-the-shelf components--a cluster of 256 Intel Pentium III microprocessors--together to act as a super-computer. The machine, called the AC3 Velocity Cluster, consists of 64 rack-mounted Dell Poweredge 6350 servers, each incorporating four Pentium III chips and running Microsoft's Windows NT.
The university claimed it is the largest tightly-coupled system of its kind using the largest ever hardware switch, along with new control software written here. "Just as your PC is getting cheaper, this is going to drive the price of supercomputing down," said David Lifka, associate director of the university's Theory Center, which makes supercomputing facilities available to Cornell scientists. "We can show that this machine is easy to replicate for commercial, computer science, and computational science applications" at about one-fourth to one-fifth the cost of a traditional supercomputer, he added.