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Linux: the technology behind your next lawnmower

Oct 13, 20032 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsLinux

* John Deere uses Linux cluster to help design lawn care equipment

There’s always a better way to cut a lawn. And the engineers at John Deere are using some of the same technology used by NASA, the Department of Defense and the Human Genome Project to figure it out.

Recently, the maker of motorized lawn care equipment installed a cluster of Linux servers from Linux Networx to tackle some of the complex computations you probably never knew went into building a lawn tractor. These tasks include computational analysis of materials used in John Deere products, as well as mathematical modeling of fluid dynamics.

The Linux Networx Evolocity 2 cluster consists of 24 AMD Athlon processors running instances of Linux. The processors are housed in a rack, which links them with high-speed (2G bit/sec) Myrinet interconnects. The cluster is managed by Linux Networx’s ICE Box, an appliance that consolidates management, monitoring, job management and I/O for all the nodes in the cluster. A special LinuxBIOS, developed by Linux Networx, allows nodes to be powered on and off and swapped out of the cage quickly without disrupting application performance, according to the company.

John Deere says the cluster allows its engineers to run many complex computation jobs at once and allocate varying amounts of processor resources to certain applications. While the Linux cluster is used by its engineering team, John Deere says it is looking into deploying Linux clusters as a central corporate resource, for such applications as high-availability database servers.