Simple Analyzing program

Craig Tierney ctierney at
Wed Oct 25 21:27:25 PDT 2000

>           Recently, I decided to make a small 5 node cluster for my
> Science Fair project, and I am in need of alot of guidance. First off, I
> need some software that would need to do two simple things. 1) Be able
> to run across a Beowulf and on a single computer, and 2) Show the
> immense processing capabilities of Beowulf versus a single computer. If
> anyone is familiar with Seti at Home, or DNETC, I was thinking of a
> modified version of something along those lines, that, on the Beowulf,
> would run across the network and send its statistics to a proxy node,
> that would display the overall results of all the nodes combined. Then,
> for the "antagonist" part of the science fair project, run the same
> program on a single computer, to show how a Beowulf can improve
> performance, at a semi affordable rate, to applications as simple as web
> servers, to as big as database processing.

If you want to show off the cluster, I would look for applications that
are more parallel than distributed.  My guess is that your interconnect
will only be Fast Ethernet, but that should be more than enough to show off 
what a Beowulf system can do.  I suggest looking for graphical applications.
I have seen code on the net to generate a Mandelbrot Set.  Also, you
could look at POVRay.  These applications fall under the 'embarassingly
parallel' category, but the visual output would be much more impressive
than statistics from applications like Seti at Home and DNETC.

There should be some other codes that you could download that would
show the practical side of a Beowulf system.  With 4 processing nodes
with 128MB each, you could start to run a small weather model.  You wouldn't
be able to run it in real time at the fair, but processing should only
take a few hours for a daily forecast (depending on the model). You 
could then show the results.

>           As of right now, I am still working on getting enough
> equipment for the project. I am soon going to be contacting companies
> such as Dell, Cisco, and 3Com, to see if they may have any student
> programs I could become involved with to somehow get the equipment
> through donations or through a lease / borrow of some sort. If anyone
> knows of any organization / company / person that may be able to
> financially help would be greatly appreciated, as well as any other
> comments or suggestions.

If you can find 5 nodes that would work well.  You don't need the
top of the line equipement.  Even 486's would work.  If you could
find some older Pentium II or III's (may be lying around at the
companies you mentioned), 64-128 MB or RAM, Fast Ethernet,
a Fast Ethernet Switch, some disk for each node (not very big, a few
Gig a piece, a little more for the master node), and a video card
and monitor you are set.

As a part of the project it is always good to understand how
well the system is working relative to one node.  There are codes out
there (Linpack, NAS Parallel Benchmark) that you can use to demonstrate
the system performace of single and multiple nodes. Fast Ethernet
isn't going to scale very well but you should be able to demonstrate
the power of Beowulf, and learn a lot in the process.
>           The applications I mentioned earlier, Seti and Dnetc, I just
> realized, in the context of how I envisioned it being set up, would not
> be true parallel processing, would it? Not all nodes are working
> together as one "supercomputer", instead they each operate on their own
> and tell a "master node" how they are coming along and that master node
> just takes all the statistics, adds them up, and makes it seems like one
> large multi-node computer. ... Or should I go get another Pepsi for more
> caffeine so I can actually understand what I just wrote..

>           Well, If anyone understands what I am trying to tackle at this
> young of an age, please speak up. I will need all the help I can get.
> Every teensy tiny bit of help will be appreciated.

Good Luck!


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