"Newbie" questions for 2nd cluster

Dan Kirkpatrick dkirk at physics.syr.edu
Thu Jun 21 13:45:27 PDT 2001

We're about to build our PoP (Pile of Pentiums) beowulf cluster #2 and are 
trying to build this one even better since our budget is 4x that of the 1st 
There's a wide variety of needs, some small code, some large (200mb-1gb+).
Mostly threaded, some in the future may be parallel.

We've got a few questions for the list...

1. Connection options:
other than 10/100 ethernet, could you please describe what they are and 
approximate cost difference?  (ie: Myrinet, 100 baseT ethernet, gigabit 
ethernet, Dolphin Wulfkit)  We may not have an immediate need for above 
100baseT, but may have some need later for "some" parallel computing.. 
maybe not enough to warrant a high cost interconnect.

2. Chipsets...
we've done a little benchmarking on different chipsets (HE/SL, Intel 840, 
Via) and notice that in some circumstances, the HE/SL performed a bit 
slower (5-15%) than the Intel 840, and the Via significantly slower 
(15-50%), especially on higher memory intensive applications with both 
processors running.
Recommendations and approximate price difference?

3. Processor choice
What about Dual Athlon's?  Are they actually available and reliable?  We've 
gotten the feeling that they're fairly new, run hotter (more cooling/larger 
case needed), and more expensive, but for the calculations we're doing, it 
may be more power for the money in the end if they are actually available 
and reliable.

4. Cluster software & monitoring
What else would you recommend beyond the standard RH Linux install for 
Cluster Management Software?
We haven't heard of most of these.
I've seen mention of ClusterWorX, RedHat or Scyld Beowulf, and other 
options of LMsensors to monitor hardware, batch queues, LAM/MPI, PVM, 
MPICH, Portland Group Cluster Development Kit (compilers?)

Thank you!

Dan Kirkpatrick                   dkirk at physics.syr.edu
Computer Systems Manager
Department of Physics
Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY
http://www.physics.syr.edu/help/    Fax:(315) 443-9103

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