April 7, 2008 at 8:55 pm (Uncategorized) (, )

Have you ever thought of buying a Super-Computer? And then let down the thought because it was too expensive? Consider once again. Here’s an Open Source Software Tool which can make things easier… and cheaper!”


PVM or Parallel Virtual Machine is a Free & Open Source Software which permits us to connect large number of computers on a network into a single manageable computing resource. It allows us to look at the hundreds of computers on the local area network as a single, powerful, processing unit. Super computing clusters such as these which are built using open source tools are called ‘Beowulf clusters’.


PVM programs are written in C and Fortran, and calls to functions provided by the PVM library handle things like process initiation and message transmission and reception. PVM programs require the execution of support software on each node PVM processes run on. The support software is a daemon, pvmd3, which runs on each machine in a user-configurable pool, also referred to as a virtual machine. It handles things like message routing, data conversion for incomplete architectures, and any other tasks necessary for operation in a heterogeneous, network environment. When a user wants to run a PVM application pvmd3 must be started on each node which is to be included in the virtual machine. Once the daemons are started, the application can be run from any of the nodes included in the virtual machine. Users have the ability to run multiple PVM applications simultaneously and overlapping virtual machines are permitted.

PVM applications most commonly run in a single-instruction multiple-data (SIMD) fashion. Each process executes the same instructions on a small portion of data and then the results are combined. PVM supports functional parallelism as well. Each PVM process is assigned a different function and they all work on the same set of data. Using either of these two methods, the PVM message passing model presents a unified and general environment for parallel computation.


  • Free and Open Source – Easily Available.

  • Cross platform Compatibility. Both Windows and *nix operating systems run it.

  • No need for extra resources. Computers in a LAN will suffice.

  • Using an “untuned” 80/64-bit version, it gets a very respectable 22.8 GFLOPS. These aren’t theoretical numbers, they are the real numbers achieved by KLAT2, one such cluster.


Common uses are traditional technical applications such as simulations, biotechnology, financial market modeling, data mining and stream processing; and Internet servers for audio and games. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) always has been a discipline which needs greater computational power. A college like ours may lease its power to other smaller colleges who may require its services.

BOINC is such an application by which is installed on several computers all over the world and it uses their CPU. SETI@home is a scientific experiment that uses Internet-connected computers in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) via BOINC.


PVM can solve the need for a better computing device with very less, or rather, negligible cost. In places like our college where there is a possibility of a lot of research, such a thing can be a boon. With no cost, since our college possesses a vast LAN of around 1000 computers connected, it can achieve tremendous computing power.

Submitted by:

Rajat Kansal

Roshan Kumar Singh

Debayan Banerjee

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