[Beowulf] Not quite Walmart, or, living without ECC?

Peter St. John peter.st.john at gmail.com
Fri Nov 16 09:43:57 PST 2007

I just asked the local NT goon, "do you use ECC for the servers?" and
he answered, "you have to". What he considers a server-class mobo
requires ECC and he added that the tendency is now to FB-DIMM (fully
buffered, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FBDIMM). This suggests to me
that next year(s) commodity mobos will be ECC.

Of course the additional expense keeps your question interesting for
now. I would imagine that if something is done to cover **software**
errors, which are aeternal :-), such as periodic checkpointing, then
adding memcheck stuff as Tony suggests seems reasonable.
But I just wanted to poke that ("nt goon") PoV; myself, I defer all
issues involving miniscule billiard balls rushing along amazingly thin
pipes, to the "electricians" (as if such a thing as "electricity"
could exist in the Real World, how absurd).

On Nov 15, 2007 6:55 PM, David Mathog <mathog at caltech.edu> wrote:
> There are some pretty good deals in the low end of the mother board
> and CPU ranges right now.  Not what you folks would buy, but something
> I'd consider to replace the old Athlon MP's in our 2U cases, one of
> which just blew up (or the Tyan motherboard, it hardly matters as I
> don't have spares for either part).  It looks like one can buy
> a dual core Athlon64, 1 Gb of memory, 1G Lan, and low end VGA on a
> consumer motherboard for around $150.  Maybe less. With the recycled
> case, fans, PS, and disks that would be an inexpensive way to more
> than resuscitate the dead node(s).
> The one thing that I don't see cheap anywhere is ECC RAM and
> motherboards that support it.
> Any of you running clusters without ECC?  Has the lack of error
> correction been a problem?
> Thanks,
> David Mathog
> mathog at caltech.edu
> Manager, Sequence Analysis Facility, Biology Division, Caltech
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