Computers in the cluster, referred to as "nodes", may be consumer-grade products like a typical PC, or highly customized enterprise solutions. The prowess of the cluster is reflected in its number of nodes; in turn, these nodes are measured by their number of processors, as well as how many cores and threads are contained in each processor.
Generally, there is a single "control" or "head" node, through which the user interfaces with the cluster. The remaining nodes are "compute nodes". All nodes are interconnected via high-speed networks. Cluster management software is used to schedule workloads and provide coordination.
Public sector: Government agencies around the world have set up dedicated computing clusters to upgrade their services, especially with regard to public safety and welfare. Examples include simulating natural disasters to improve forecast accuracy and relief efforts; analyzing genomics to combat a dangerous pandemic; or even something as mundane as monitoring highway traffic so everyone can get home in time for the holidays.
Private sector: Computing clusters have opened up boundless opportunities for businesses. Some examples include: more efficient exploration in the energy sector; greater security and profitability in the finance industry; more creative special effects and performances in showbiz. The ease with which a computing cluster can be scaled up and scaled out means a smaller company can set up a modest cluster early on, and then gradually expand the cluster as business grows.
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