Got a problem only a supercomputer will crack? Massey University is to sell time on its Beowulf machine for $1000 for 20 hours, including training in how to program for it.
The computer, dubbed Helix, has been benchmarked at 234 gigaflops so 20 hours is “a lot” of computing time, says Massey IT support manager Lorri O’Brien. A gigaflop equals a billion floating-point arithmetic operations a second.
O’Brien says the training will include an introduction on how to use Helix and MPI, or message passing interface, a standard for clustered and parallel processing development, utilising C, C++ or Fortran.
“We will show people how to build applications which can run on Helix.”
O’Brien expects interest from other universities. She says Massey will offer some of the 50 places on the course as scholarships to students.
The university has spent the past three months building the computer. The Beowulf model clusters processors to deliver high-performance computing. Helix has 132 2GHz AMD dual-processor Athlon chips and runs Linux Red Hat 7.3 as its operating system.
The first users will be from the university’s Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution, the first applications being BLAST (basic logical alignment search tool) genome database searches and LAPACK — a high-perfor-mance linear algebra package.