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The authors present a heterogeneous parallel computing system that combines a traditional computer cluster with a broadband network of embedded Set-Top Box (STB) devices. As Multiple Service Operators (MSO) manage millions of these devices across wide geographic areas, the computational power of such a massively-distributed embedded system could be harnessed to realize a centrally-managed, energy-efficient parallel processing platform that supports a variety of application domains which are of interest to MSOs, consumers, and the high-performance computing research community. They investigate the feasibility of this idea by building a prototype system that includes a complete head-end cable system with a DOCSIS-2.0 network combined with an interoperable implementation of a subset of Open MPI running on the STB embedded operating system.
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