Irvine,CA - The practical uses for Linux clusters continues to expand as the individual machines are becoming more powerful. Visualization walls are quickly becoming one of the biggest applications for Linux cluster users. PSSC Labs recently delivered a Beowulf Supercomptuer to Space Telescope Space Science Institute (STSCI). The clusters will perform two specific duties. First, the processing power of the Beowulf Cluster will be used to render extremely, large high resolution images. The second use will be to display these images across a visualization wall comprised of several, high resolution liquid crystal displays.
The most significant difference between a standard compute cluster and a compute cluster that doubles as visualization wall is the video card. Standard compute clusters need only a basic PCI card just to turn the machines on. These cards will usually never display any graphics. Video cards in visualization walls are high end graphic cards with large amounts of memory. Frank Summers, STSCI Astrophysicist, approached PSSC Labs with a specific video adapter and monitor for his cluster. "Mr Summers conducted extensive research before deciding upon the Nvidia's Geforce 3 Ti 200," explains Alex Lesser, PSSC Labs VP Sales/Marketing. Just installing the video card is not enough to produce a high quality visualization wall. Software is as much a part of the proper solution as the hardware. According to Jason Smith, PSSC Labs Senior Cluster Technician, "the nvidia driver that comes with Redhat 7.2 is the open source version which has very poor OpenGL support. The drivers from the Nvidia website are for better drivers for doing any OpenGL." In addition, PSSC Labs upgraded the XFree86 driver to the latest version, further enhancing the performance. Mr. Summers appreciates this level of support.
PSSC Labs sees Beowulf Supercomptuers performing many more tasks for scientists and enginners as they gain greater acceptance. Mr. Summers was convinced that a Beowulf Cluster was the best solution and now his high resolution astronomy visualizations are rendered faster and displayed with more brilliance than ever before. A small sample of Mr. Summers' astronomy visualizations can be found by following this link. The animations are extraordinary.
About PSSC Labs:
Founded in 1987, PSSC Labs began manufacturing Beowulf clusters for research organizations and universities including NASA, University of California, Harvard, MIT and Abbott Laboratories. Their knowledge of hardware, Linux, and networking allows them to offer the most flexibility in cluster configurations at a fraction of the price of competitors. PSSC Labs is based in Southern California.