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December 9, 1994 4:14 pm ACase for NOW (Networks of Workstations)

Summary: December 9, 1994 4:14 pm
1 of 20
ACase for NOW (Networks of Workstations)
Thomas E. Anderson, David E. Culler, David A. Patterson, and the NOW team
Abstract: In this paper, we argue that because of recent technology advances, networks
of workstations (NOWs) are poised to become the primary computing infrastructure for
science and engineering, from low end interactive computing to demanding sequential
and parallel applications. We identify three opportunities for NOWs that will benefit end­
users: dramatically improving virtual memory and file system performance by using the
aggregate DRAM of a NOW as a giant cache for disk; achieving cheap, highly available,
and scalable file storage by using redundant arrays of workstation disks, using the LAN
as the I/O backplane; and finally, multiple CPUs for parallel computing. We describe the
technical challenges in exploiting these opportunities -- namely, efficient communication
hardware and software, global coordination of multiple workstation operating systems,
and enterprise­scale network file systems. We are currently building a 100­node NOW
prototype to demonstrate that practical solutions exist to these technical challenges.
Keywords: Networks of Workstations, Communications, Parallel Computing, Mes­
sage Passing, File Systems, Network Virtual Memory, Global Resource Manage­
ment, Availability
1. Introduction


Source: Anderson, Tom - Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Washington at Seattle
Newhall, Tia - Computer Science Department, Swarthmore College


Collections: Computer Technologies and Information Sciences