The Cluster

Welcome to the homepage of the bc247 Beowulf Cluster. This system is a Beowulf style computer cluster that utilises the Monash Engineering Faculty student computer labs to perform High Performance Computing (HPC). The computer labs are used by students during the day, at night time when they would otherwise be closed, the computers work together to perform computational tasks setup by students.

The initial goal of the cluster was to provide the computing power needed to conduct engineering simulations. Many physical simulation software programs have the benefit of being highly parallelisable. By splitting the problem across multiple computers, each computer only solves a small chunk of the overall problem. This drastically decreases the time taken for the computer to solve the problem. For complex problems, there is the added advantage of having more resources to solve with. An example would be a problem that uses 50GB of memory. Because each node only has 16GB, the solution would not be possible (or be extremely slow because of the need to use swap space on the hard drive), however when partitioned across 4 nodes, the total amount of memory is 64GB, therefore making this problem feasible.

Name and logo

The name of the cluster, bc247, was not something that was chosen by me. Originally before bc247, there was a similar cluster named bc727. The name bc727 was an abbreviation for “Beowulf Cluster 7-to-7” because the cluster is a beowulf style cluster ran from 7PM until 7AM (i.e. during the closed hours of the student computer labs) Because the hardware of the older bc727 was out of date, it was decided to decommission the old system and replace it with a clean-sheet redesigned cluster. The name of the new cluster, bc247 was actually chosen by a member of university staff. The name stands for “Beowulf Cluster 24/7” (even though the cluster still only runs from approx 7PM to 7AM still!)

The logo for bc247 is created from the Linux penguin, Tux but with the head of a wolf to represent beoWULF. In fact, beowulf is an old English poem with no mentions of wolves, but the wolf head made for a much better logo!

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