[Beowulf] The Walmart Compute Node?

Joe Landman landman at scalableinformatics.com
Thu Nov 8 20:17:29 PST 2007

Vincent Diepeveen wrote:


> Ever seen a company say: "heh here you got $2500 build me the fastest 
> cluster you can get for that money"?

... from this I gather that you are not in the cluster computing business.

> Actually i'm typing at an ex-company machine, a macbookpro 17'', which i 
> got from my previous employer and it is still 2600 euro in the shop 
> here, which soon is a dollar or 5000.
> In general when crunching becomes important to a company, definitely a 
> billion euro company, then they're gonna invest quite some more than 
> $2500 into crunching power.

... again, from this I gather you are not in the cluster or HPC 
computing business ...

Those billion euro companies are *not* throwing money at things left and 

A smart company is going to buy what they need, and can economically 
justify (e.g that good old cost benefit analysis).  This is what drives 
HPC (and many many other markets).

Put it another way.  There are the "gotta haves".  These are the things 
you need to do your job.  There are the "would help if we had" things. 
And there are the "like to have" sorts of things.  A smart company (the 
billion euro company) is going to carefully determine what the 
difference between "gotta have" and "would help if we had".

> c) homegrown clusters usually are not built at the same manner like the 
> $2500 project says. Usually people buy a machine now, buy one a year 
> later and so on, and just cluster 'em, so instead of trying to stick 
> strict in some $2500 budget it's more like: "which cpu at what cheapo 
> mainboard gives most dang for my bucks". that'll be a quadcore.

... from this, I presume you have not been on a sales call.

Many start out with "I have a budget of X, and how can I maximize what I 
want to do with this?"

This is a perfectly reasonable sentiment.  It is maximizing "bang" for 
the "buck".  "Dang" is usually a substitute for an ... er ... less 
publically acceptable word ... as in "Dang, the computer crashed again."


> heh you sure you still want your 2 cents in dollar currency rather than 
> euro's?

So you don't want to give me two euros for the two cents (pennies) I 
would give you?  The copper in them is rapidly (or possibly has already) 
exceeded the value of the penny.

One of the interesting side effects of "commodity" pricing increases is 
that now copper is rising in value, so some ... er ... enterprising 
(yeah thats the word) people decide that the copper hanging on those 
power lines is better off being sold ... than conducting power.

Joseph Landman, Ph.D
Founder and CEO
Scalable Informatics LLC,
email: landman at scalableinformatics.com
web  : http://www.scalableinformatics.com
phone: +1 734 786 8423
fax  : +1 866 888 3112
cell : +1 734 612 4615

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