[Beowulf] The Walmart Compute Node?

Vincent Diepeveen diep at xs4all.nl
Thu Nov 8 19:52:01 PST 2007

Would it be interesting to open a discussion how to reduce sound of  
cheapo clusters as well?
Now i guess for most us-guys in this group that is perhaps less  
interesting as their big mansion/castle in the states has probably  
plenty of rooms,
including a nerd-go-crazy-room from which the net can get spammed,  
but a lot of people don't have this luxury.

The real problem is that articles about getting things silent always  
assume some sort of 'gamer pc' that's ultra expensive where you can  
throw big bucks to get it quiet; cheap crunching hardware never gets  
attention in that sense. Of course it's logical, a loud $1 fan is  
gonna save more costs than a quiet 'noiseblocker' fan from germany,  
to just give an example.

is it an idea to write something about that as well?

just a thought,

On Nov 10, 2007, at 2:33 AM, Jeffrey B. Layton wrote:

> I was going to hold this back for after Thanksgiving, but I've been  
> working
> on a small project all year to track the costs of AMD and Intel  
> systems.
> I chose 3 AMD CPU models (4200+, 5000+, and 6000+) and 3 Intel
> models (Cores 2: 2.33 GHz, 2.66 GHz and Quad-core 2.4 GHz). I then
> chose a couple of memory configurations to see the effects of memory
> fluctuations. The system configurations have everything - cases, DVD,
> GigE switches (I used 2 GigE switches - one for computation and one
> for storage), hard drives, cables, motherboards, etc. Only the head  
> node
> has hard drives and the compute nodes are all diskless.
> The spreadsheet computes the total cost (including shipping) from the
> component costs for systems from 1-8 nodes and a 16 node system
> (I switched from 8-port GigE switches to 16-port GigE switches for
> this last configuration).
> I've been tracking the costs for these systems since about Feb.  
> I've also
> added the theoretical system performance (GFLOPS) so I can compute
> $/GFLOPS as well as $/node, and $/core. I wish I had power estimates
> though.
> I've also been finding the $2,500 systems from this overall group.  
> It's
> fun to look at how many nodes you can get for $2,500 as the year
> went along. I'm hoping to publish an article on ClusterMonkey later
> this year with the data and the plots. It's actually quite  
> interesting.
> Think of it as finding the optimal system for $2,500.
> The most interesting thing is that the best $/GFLOPS is the Intel
> quad-core Q6600. But that shouldn't be too surprising since the
> Intel chips have 4 ops/clock and the AMD's only have 2. On a
> $/GFLOPS basis, the AMD's are about twice the cost of the cheapest
> Intel system. But you generally get more nodes with AMD than
> with Intel.
> Doug thinks I'm nuts, but then again, I have to have a hobby :)
> It's going to become even more interesting when the AMD quad-core
> hits the desktop and when Penryn pops up.
> Jeff
>> Peter,
>> 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.
>>                                          CPU
>> 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
>> as "HPL GFLOPS" as YMMV.
>> 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.
>> --
>> Doug
>>> 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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