I want one!

Story: Microwulf: Breaking the $100/GFLOP BarrierTotal Replies: 13
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techiem2

Sep 06, 2007
7:27 AM EST
Sooooo....any donations to the "Build techie a cluster" fund? :P

I thought it was a great article that covered lots of interesting areas, not just the "Look! It's fast and cheap to build!" angle. Though for some reason I find it oddly amusing that they picked Ubuntu to run the cluster....
Bob_Robertson

Sep 06, 2007
9:54 AM EST
hehehe. He said "cluster fund". hehehe.
Sander_Marechal

Sep 06, 2007
1:44 PM EST
If it's just the tech you're interested in, you could simply stack a couple of old PC's on the floor. That's how Beowulf was born anyway! See http://www.extremelinux.info/stonesoup/
techiem2

Sep 06, 2007
1:48 PM EST
haha. True. I could probably scare up enough old comps to get a working cluster together. Whether the performance would be worth the effort and power...

I used to play around with OpenMosix a bit back in the 2.4 kernel days. But apparently it's being shut down (now that they finally got it working in 2.6 kernels...)
Sander_Marechal

Sep 06, 2007
2:01 PM EST
Quoting:Whether the performance would be worth the effort and power...


It won't. But it'll teach you how to build, manage and write software for clusters. They are a whole different beast than regular machines. If you're lazy you can even fake it. Get one decent machine, build 4 or 8 virtual Xen servers, then arrange them into a cluster. It's not about getting the power but about understanding the technology.
Bob_Robertson

Sep 06, 2007
5:48 PM EST
When I was working in Tokyo, I was putting a router into the datacenter of a well known investment bank / stock brokerage / etc. You've heard of it.

Anyway, stacked against the walls in a raised-floor high security area were litterally multiple dozens if not hundreds of SPARC-2 to SPARC-20 pizza boxes. I can only imagine what kind of money those boxes represented, just because of the square footage they were taking up of prime office space in Tokyo. Wow!

They were waste, but because of "security concerns" they couldn't be thrown out. It was _cheaper_ to store them for an indeterminate number of years, until the problem would eventually get so bad that someone would have to make a decision.

No, they wouldn't let me have one even though I promised to take their HDs out first and leave them behind. Awwwwww...

If you're really, really interested, Penguin Computing has blade servers with integrated Gbit ethernet backplanes and dual/quad core CPUs. Massive parallelism in a small yet expensive package. :^)

20 years ago, I got my second computer operator's job in an IBM mainframe shop. They had a "supercomputer", actually two of them, IBM ES9000's, one with 2cpus and one with 6. Even while I was working there (4 years) the RAID revolution took hold. I remember adverts where one standard cabinet sized box could do the work of 6 or so dedicated hard-disk cabinets and still have its own built-in UPS, at far less than 1/6 the power/heat of the "standard" disks.

Right now there is an IBM commercial about their "blade servers" where a suit walks into the raised floor area and panics because "The mainframe is gone!" Some geek says, "No, it's right over there." One standard cabinet, full of blades, taking up nearly no space and requiring little or no special cooling machinery or power conditioning.

I don't think most people comprehend just how far computing has come in a very short time.

Learning parallelization and clustering is a good idea if you're a programmer. I'm not, I'm mostly a hardware geek.

techiem2

Sep 06, 2007
7:14 PM EST
hmm. xen cluster.... Of course, that still requires a capable machine to spare...

Ah well. Maybe I'll try making a cluster out of my spare machines when I get around to sorting them out.
Sander_Marechal

Sep 06, 2007
8:29 PM EST
I can recommend becoming friends with your local sysadmin (or sysadmins at a different company). Businesses usually have so many old computers lying around it's not even funny anymore. On my previous job there were 6 containers lined up, packed with about 20 or so PII computers just waiting to be picked up by the trash man. I had no use for that many computers but I did raid them for RAM, video cards and network cards.

The boss at that former company also gave me two 24-port network switches, three Dual PII HP NetServers and one Dual Xeon HP ProLiant G3 (I did pay him a few hunderd euros for that last one. I thought it was too expensive and not old enough just to be given it).

My latest loot is an old PIII 1 Ghz. All it needs is a bit of extra RAM and it'll run Debian just fine. I'm going to give it away to a friend of mine who doesn't have the money to buy a computer.
azerthoth

Sep 06, 2007
8:34 PM EST
I'm just waiting for some free time to play with my latest freebie, Sun Sparc5 (I think its 5). Too many other projects going at once though to get worked up about it.
techiem2

Sep 06, 2007
9:02 PM EST
I'm the Assistant to the CTO. :) Unfortunately we don't have anything we're trying to get rid of else I'd probably be bringing stuff home. We are still using lots of old P2 and whatnot era boxes in the classroom labs and we don't want to get rid of our stack of extras since things tend to break now and then.
Sander_Marechal

Sep 06, 2007
9:13 PM EST
Then ask your colleguas at other companies :-)

Something interesting I ran across on digg: http://gluster.org/ - The GNU clustering platform
azerthoth

Sep 06, 2007
9:25 PM EST
Now that looks sweet since as mentioned earlier OpenMosix has announced it will be closing its doors soon.
Aladdin_Sane

Sep 06, 2007
10:38 PM EST
The idea of turning the office cube farm into a cluster at night/over the weekend used to be popular. See http://clusterknoppix.sw.be/ for ClusterKNOPPIX, and http://idea.uab.es/mcreel/ParallelKnoppix/ ParalellKNOPPIX for example. I read an article about someone was going to make a commercial product from the concept, but I can't find the link.

I did run in to the MSN TV Linux Cluster: http://www.engadget.com/2006/02/12/the-msn-tv-linux-cluster/

edit: I almost forgot: The worst all-time idea for High Performance Computing: http://phoenix.cc.edu/MegaFloppy.htm
Sander_Marechal

Sep 07, 2007
12:39 AM EST
If you're a true geek (with cash) you could buy a bunch of parts they use in those small 11"-12" laptops and build yourself a cluster that will fit into a standard PC case :-)

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