Souped-up computing from Sandia National Labs

Sandia National Laboratories have released to the public a computer program that enables off-the-shelf desktop computers to rank among the world’s fastest supercomputers.

The program, called Cplant system software, is said to dramatically extend the capability of researchers to modularly assemble large blocks of off-the-shelf computer components.

The idea behind this open-source release is to allow researchers free access to the body of research and development that created the most scalable, Linux-based, off-the-shelf computer available, said Sandia manager Neil Pundit.

The hope, said Pundit, is that modifications and enhancements made by researchers elsewhere will enrich the system software, and that these improvements will be communicated back to Sandia.

While other cluster software may run faster, none exceed the Cplant systemsoftware’s ability to help off-the-shelf processors work together in large numbers.

Sandia’s Cplant hardware comprises the largest known sets of Linux clustersfor parallel computing. These sets are made up of Compaq Alpha processors and Myrinet interconnects. The largest cluster within Cplant comprises more than 1500 Alpha nodes.

Cplant system software is modelled after the system software that Sandiadeveloped for the ASCI Red supercomputer built by Intel, installed at the Labs’ Albuquerque site in 1997, and for several years generally accepted as the world’s fastest computer. The software can be downloaded from the Cplant website at www.cs.sandia.gov/cplant.

This first open source release of the Cplant system software, named Release 1.0, totals approximately 43 MB.