SCL Cluster Cookbook|
An alternative to selecting components and building custom systems is to purchase complete systems from vendors. High-quality systems built to customer specifications may be useful for sites that lack in-house expertise or time to build its own systems.
If a vendor does not specifically build systems for use as a cluster, it may be a bit more expensive to purchase PCs for a cluster because each PC in a cluster tends not to need its own video display, keyboard, and CD-ROM drive. Our experience is that vendors tend not to reduce prices very much when these "extra" components are dropped from machines. This is one of the reasons that encouraged us to build our ALICE cluster PC nodes from components. The recent appearance of vendors that build clusters (thus avoiding the need to build one's own nodes or purchase "stripped" nodes) is a welcome addition to the cluster computing community.
Compaq is a PC vendor that had a presence at the Supercomputing '97 conference in San Jose. The Compaq ProLiant 850R is a low-profile Pentium Pro computer made to stack 14 systems in a high-density rack-mount configuration.
Compact commodity clusters are available, including AltaCluster by Alta Technology and xtreme Machines by Paralogic. Alta Technology will build a compact cluster using a choice of Pentium II or Alpha 21164 processors and a choice of Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, or Gigabit Myrinet as the interconnect, while Paralogic provides Pentium II clusters (apparently also with a choice of Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, or Myrinet as the interconnect).