Cluster FAQs

Below is a compilation of useful information for FAMU-FSU College of Engineering high performance computing users. The College is home to a growing community of researchers interested in utilizing High-performance Cluster computers to facilitate solving problems using parallelization techniques.

Q: What is this site?

This webpage is for compiling general high performance computing (High-performance clustering) questions and answers. Always reference this FAQ first when looking for information.

Q. What is "high performance computing"?

The field of high performance computing comprises computing applications on (parallel) supercomputers and computer clusters.

Q. What is a computer cluster?

A computer cluster is a group of loosely coupled computers that work together closely so that in many respects it can be viewed as though it were a single computer. Clusters are commonly (but not always) connected through fast local area networks. Clusters are usually deployed to improve speed and/or reliability over that provided by a single computer, while typically being much more cost-effective than single computers of comparable speed or reliability. (Source: Wikipedia)

There are several types of computer clusters commonly used around the world: High-availability clusters (HA), Load balancing clusters, and High-performance clusters (HPC). The scope of this FAQ is limited to HPC implementations.

Q. What is a High-performance cluster or HPC?

High-performance clusters are implemented primarily to provide increased performance by splitting a computational task across many different nodes in the cluster, and are most commonly used in scientific computing. One of the more popular HPC implementations is a cluster with nodes running Linux as the OS and free software to implement the parallelism. This configuration is often referred to as a Beowulf cluster. Such clusters commonly run custom programs which have been designed to exploit the parallelism available on HPC clusters. Many such programs use libraries such as MPI which are specially designed for writing scientific applications for HPC computers. (Source: Wikipedia)

The acronym HPC is also used to refer to the area of High Performance Computing.

Q. Will High-performance clusters help me?

If you are doing any computationally intensive work that can take advantage of multiple CPUs in parallel, then you will might find that HPCs are very useful tools.

Q. What High-performance clusters are available to me?

If you are looking for a cluster to use, CMS would be pleased to help you identify options.