Both grid computing and cluster computing are high performance computing techniques that are interchangeably confused between each other by people not involved in any one or both of these. There are some very fundamental differences between these which I'm going to enlist below:
Salient characteristics of grids
Grids are collections of heterogeneous systems. The underlying OS, as well as hardware may vary among the computers participating in the grids. The computers that are part of a grid use their spare computational power to perform the tasks assigned to the grid. They are very loosely coupled and inherently distributed in nature may be over LAN, MAN or even WAN. In a grid infrastructure, every computer behaves as a single entity and each entity has its own resource manager that manages the computing resources. Grids are of two types: computational grids and data grids. The former are used for computationally intensive operations and the latter are used for large scale data base management systems like Oracle 10g/11g.
Salient characteristics of clusters
Clusters are collections of homogeneous systems. The operating system as well as hardware in the participating computers of a cluster are same. The computers in the cluster use their full computational power to solve a problem together, contrasting to the spare computational power usage of grid entities. In a cluster all nodes behave like a single system and there is a single centralized resource manager.
Hope, this clears the confusion between grids and clusters. Both of these technologies are trending research topics for scholars.
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