The idea of distributed computing, or metacomputing, is to combine available computational resources for different applications processing. Preconditions for metacomputing are quite simple. Let’s take a look at a local area network of any modern organization, or at computer classes in schools, colleges, etc. In general, computers of this type are almost idle at nights and on holidays, and their load is quite far from peak even in working time. Joining these machines for running an application at their idle time could provide a performance that could be compared to computational cluster performance with similar number of nodes. Another example: computational complexity of a particular task could be so high that even high-performance supercomputer won’t process it in a reasonable time. But it could be processed faster by joining additional computational resources from different organizations, cities or countries.

Internet is of particular interest from this point of view. Indeed, any computer connected to the Internet could be used for processing a single task, but this can be done only if we find a way to solve all technical, logical and organizational problems.

In RCC MSU we have developed the X-Com metacomputing system aimed to perform distributed computations using heterogeneous computational resources. X-Com utilizes only existing machines and networks. Distinctive features of X-Com are: large number of modern hardware and software platforms support, quick and easy installation and starting without need of super-user privileges, using different modes of resource utilization.

X-Com system was successfully used to solve a number of real problems on bioengineering, bioinformatics, drug design and electrodynamics. For these applications we simultaneously used high-performance computational resources of Moscow State University and Russian Academy of Sciences, computing centers of Saint Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Chelyabinsk, Ufa, Tomsk, etc.

X-Com is freely distributed software.
Official website of X-Com metacomputing system: http://x-com.parallel.ru
The tutorial in PDF format is available: DOWNLOAD

Electromagnetic field diffraction calculations using X-Com software was performed in November 2008. We were allowed to use parts of computational resources from 6 largest Russian supercomputing centers. We achieved 24.5 TFlops in peak using 2199 CPUs and had the task solved in less than 12 hours.

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