eWeek: Supercomputers for the Masses?
Tuesday June 10 2003 @ 03:04PM EDT

Ten years ago, supercomputers were multimillion-dollar systems usually used for massive projects, such as modeling Earth's climate or nuclear reactions. Today, they are called HPCCs, or high-performance computing clusters, and they are basically free when built from spare PCs. More important, they are quickly becoming suitable for mainstream enterprise computing.

HPCCs look completely different from traditional supercomputers: They are fan-cooled, not water-cooled, and they sit in racks and use off-the-shelf components. And while the inventor of supercomputers—Cray Research Inc.—may have cranked out only two or three computers a year a decade ago, companies including Dell Computer Corp., Red Hat Inc. and Microsoft Corp. are now building hundreds of postmodern supercomputers at a time.

The changes in supercomputing can be seen most clearly in academia, where the New Age supercomputers are commonly used.

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