[Beowulf] Win64 Clusters!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mark Hahn hahn at mcmaster.ca
Tue Apr 3 08:14:05 PDT 2007

on the original topic, to me, Beowulf is about cluster hacking.
that is, a slightly subversive re-purposing to suit HPC.  all hacking
is based on something like a paradox, that if you simply break convention,
there's a better way to do it.  so rather than buy high-end supers and mini
computers, stick a bunch of glorified desktops together for the same calc.

so on the topic of "why not windows", I can't really see the point - 
is there any value to repurposing windows?  I very much doubt it would 
give any better performance, and windows' main advantage in the market
is that you can get cheap if mediocre admins.

> 'ssh' and also modified how the tasks are launched to ensure their MPI
> fits into Microsoft's security model, here is specific information on
> this from Microsoft's site

<shrug>.  it's natural that if you run windows apps on a cluster,
you're a site which is an msft shop and obviously want to know that 
the jobs fit within your AD infrastructure, etc.

of course, there's nothing that requires the cluster to run windows 
to do this - a pure beowulf cluster _could_ use AD and SMB filesystems
without any problem I know of.  if your goal is really to drive a cluster
from an excel spreadsheet, I don't imagine it's all that hard - especially
if you simply have the spreadsheet trigger some jobs via ssh keys.
no new infrastructure required.

> "An important improvement that MS MPI brings to MPICH2 is in how
> security is managed during execution of MPI jobs. Each job is run with
> the credentials of the user. Credentials are only present while the job

this is, of course, ASININE fud.  msft just isn't very good at producing
beowulf fud (yet, I fear).  it's probably good enough fud to scare PHB's.

if msft really cared about this sort of credential/token/etc stuff,
they'd probably organize the cluster to provision VM's on each node,
each of which only has access to a specific private VPN.  such plumbing
would be moderately messy to set up, and IMO not worth the trouble.

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