[Beowulf] The Walmart Compute Node?

Douglas Eadline deadline at eadline.org
Thu Nov 8 12:36:59 PST 2007


Having some experience with low cost hardware, If you are
doing number crunching multi-core seems to provide the
best bang for buck. The following is the HPL performance that
you can get for $2500. The Kronos and Microwulf clusters
are detailed on http://clustermonkey.net, Norbert is the subject
of a November Linux Magazine article.

Cluster Name                  Clock      Release           HPL
   Processor               Speed (MHz)   Date         Performance
Kronos/Sempron 2500+ (8)        1750   7/2004    14.90 GFLOPS (Atlas)
Microwulf/Athlon64 X2 3800+ (4) 2000   8/2005    26.25 GFLOPS (Goto)
Norbert/Core Duo E6550 (4)      2333   7/2007    45.55 GFLOPS (Goto)

If you draw a line (3 points I know) you get to 80 GFLOPS
by 2010. Actually with some tweaking I got Norbert
up to 47.7 HPL GFLOPS. And, notice I qaulify the performance

With really low cost systems one important aspect is the
interconnect. The PCIe buses on low end motherboards allows
one to use inexpensive PCIe (Intel) Ethernet cards vs
32 PCI. Some of the on-board GigE implementations are
not very good.


> Recently, probably you noticed, Walmart began selling a $200 linux PC.
> (Apparently the OS is just Ubuntu 7.10 with a small xindow manager
> instead of Gnome or KDE). Now Slashdot points to
> http://www.linuxdevices.com/news/NS5305482907.html, the MB being sold
> separately for $60 ("development board"). It has 1.5GHz CPU,
> unpopulated memory (slots for 2GB), one 10/100 connection. Does this
> look to y'all like fair FLOPS/$ for a kitchen project? I'm thinking 6
> of them as compute nodes per 8 port router, with a bigger head node
> for fileserving. (actually I'll use a spare room but you know what I
> mean). An arrangement like this might be faster RAM access per core,
> compared to multicore, since each core has no competition for is't own
> memory, right?
> Thanks,
> Peter
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