Supercomputing on the cheap

— 12:51 AM on May 26, 2000

It seems the AMD Athlon's killer FPU and 3DNow! performance has brought the cost of a Gigaflop of supercomputing power to under a grand. A project at the Univeristy of Kentucky has a whole gaggle of cheap Athlon boxes tied together in a Linux Beowulf cluster, and the results are impressive:

Using conventional software, PC processors are approaching the speed of the processors in traditional supercomputers. KLAT2's software takes advantage of special features of the AMD Athlon processor to dramatically accelerate some computations. 3DNow! 32-bit vector floating point allows KLAT2's sixty-four 700MHz Athlons to achieve more than 64GFLOPS while solving a system of 40,960 equations -- slightly faster than the 64-bit arithmetic performance of the machine ranked 150th in Jack Dongarra's list of the 500 fastest supercomputers in the world (
Pretty amazing. Now all they need is 64 GFDs, and they can push their way up the chart a few more notches.
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