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Take A Penny, Leave A Penny

March 02, 2008

The arrival of yet another new supercomputer underscores the healthy growth in the market for high performance computing hardware, especially the HPC cluster market. IDG stats show that HPC servers are seeing Moore's Law-like growth generally, with one of the big application areas seeming to be finance.

Not surprising, is it? As H. L. Mencken almost said, 'Whenever there is blood upon the moon, and multitudes of humans are heavy laden and sore beset, financial software flourishes.' 

But not all the HPC server stories end with a flourish, as Michael Feldman at HPCwire points out in his Requiem for a Cluster Vendor.

In the words of the immortal Casey Stengel, 'Without losers, where would the winners be?' 

But maybe things could be a little less binary. An EU-funded program would like to develop what is essentially a stock market for buying and selling spare cycles. The State of New Mexico may be hoping for such an exchange, because the legislature there expects its new SGI supercomputer to pay for itself by selling cycles.

What isn't clear to me is how significant this whole spare-cycle thing could be. Is it on the order of a commodities market, or is it more like a supermarket's take a penny, leave a penny tray? 

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