Beowulf on Sparc

Robert G. Brown rgb at
Mon Feb 19 12:51:04 PST 2001

On Mon, 19 Feb 2001, Josip Loncaric wrote:

> Clusters do not require Linux -- in fact, a nice Solaris cluster was
> recently built at William & Mary:

To amplify Josip's remark -- in fact, PVM clusters don't even need to be
hardware OR OS homogeneous.  The very earliest, pre-linux PVM clusters
often had two or three utterly different kinds of hardware and OS
software (e.g Sun 3's (Motorala CPU), Sun 4's (Sparc), SGI Irises
(MIPS), Decstations, even Crays, running a mix of SunOS, Irix, Ultrix
and Cray-OS).  I've run code on at least two or three (at a time) out of
this list, although of course load balancing is a bit difficult and
writing synchronous code (that doesn't waste a lot of cycles at
barriers) absurdly difficult, and most of my original cluster computing
was done on a 100+ node "cluster" consisting of several generations of
Sparc systems (running both SunOS and Solaris) scattered over half the
Duke campus.

"Beowulf" stuff -- e.g. channel bonding -- often requires linux, but
network parallel cluster programming requires only systems with a common
notion of the TCP stack and sockets (and a port of the task code for
each unique hardware/OS combination you plan to use).  You can even in
principle mix in WinXX boxen, although multitasking will royally suck if
you aren't running NT or beyond.  Come to think of it, it might suck on
NT and beyond too, but not like it sucks on Win9X or less, which were
never designed to manage more than one task at a time, really.


Robert G. Brown	             
Duke University Dept. of Physics, Box 90305
Durham, N.C. 27708-0305
Phone: 1-919-660-2567  Fax: 919-660-2525     email:rgb at

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