Stone Soupercomputer

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The Stone Soupercomputer was a Beowulf-style computer cluster built at the US Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the late 1990s.

A group of lab employees including William W. Hargrove and Forrest M. Hoffman applied for a grant to build a cluster in 1996, but it was rejected. Software was patterned after the Beowulf project pioneered by NASA. They decided to build a cluster anyway, using desktop personal computers that had been discarded as being too slow. The name was derived from the story of stone soup.[1] The developers used freely available and open source software such as Linux operating system, the Parallel Virtual Machine toolkit and the Message Passing Interface library.[2]

By early 1997 the first applications were running on the cluster. By May 2001 it had 133 nodes. They included Intel 80486 and Pentium-based machines and a few DEC Alpha workstations. Low-cost Ethernet networking was used for interconnection instead of any special-purpose network.[2] The cluster was the subject of an article in Scientific American magazine in 2001.[1] Many applications were developed on this system that could then be deployed on other, faster clusters. The stone cluster was no longer in use by August 2003.[3] This approach was used as a model for other educational cluster projects.[4]


  1. ^ a b Hargrove, William W.; Hoffman, Forrest M.; Sterling, Thomas (August 16, 2001). "The Do-It-Yourself Supercomputer". Scientific American. 265 (2). pp. 72–79. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
  2. ^ a b Hargrove, William W.; Hoffman, Forrest M. (1999). "Cluster Computing: Linux Taken to the Extreme". Linux Magazine. Archived from the original on October 18, 2011. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
  3. ^ Hoffman, Forrest M. (August 27, 2003). "The Stone SouperComputer - ORNL's First Beowulf-Style Parallel Computer". Project website. Archived from the original on November 21, 2003. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
  4. ^ Adams, Joel; Vos, David (March 2002). "Small-college supercomputing: building a Beowulf cluster at a comprehensive college". Proceedings of the 33rd SIGCSE technical symposium on Computer science education. 34 (1). doi:10.1145/563517.563498. ISBN 1-58113-473-8.