Beowulf cluster
n. An inexpensive supercomputer-like system created from a collection of two or more desktop PCs connected by a high-speed network.
The Beowulf cluster gets its name from the sixth-century Scandinavian hero who was famed in verse for taking down a monster named Grendel. The computer version, which was designed to slay the monster mainframes, was invented in 1994 by Don Becker while he was at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center."
—Christina Dyrness, “Beowulf looks to slay mainframe,” The News and Observer, October 17, 2000
Beowulf is a system that uses a parallel-processing architecture and off-the-shelf machines running Linux operating system. One machine is the server node, and distributes a processing job to all of the other machines, which are client nodes.

The total hardware cost for 24-node Beowulf cluster was $57,000 — as compared to most commercial supercomputers today, which cost between $10 million and $30 million.
—Parveen S. Thampi, “Linux Operating System: A Freeware and the Net War,” Computers Today, October 31, 1998
1996 (earliest)
The latest Beowulf clusters installed at Caltech Los Alamos National Laboratory, and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, are all 16 node Pentium Pro machines with configurations that reflect the specific needs of their users.
—Daniel Ridge, et al., “Beowulf: Harnessing the Power of Parallelism in a Pile-of-PCs,” Proceedings of the IEEE Aerospace, October 15, 1996
Dr. Becker recalled that the name had been chosen by Dr. Sterling for a number of reasons, including a line loosely translated from "Beowulf," the epic Anglo-Saxon poem, that described the heroic Beowulf as having the strength of many.
—J. D. Biersdorfer, “The Secret Life of the Home Computer,” The New York Times, June 08, 2000
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