[Beowulf] The True Cost of HPC Cluster Ownership

Gerry Creager gerry.creager at tamu.edu
Tue Aug 11 08:27:48 PDT 2009

Daniel Pfenniger wrote:
> Douglas Eadline wrote:
>> All,
>> I posted this on ClusterMonkey the other week.
>> It is actually derived from a white paper I wrote for
>> SiCortex. I'm sure those on this list have some
>> experience/opinions with these issues (and other
>> cluster issues!)
>>   The True Cost of HPC Cluster Ownership
>>   http://www.clustermonkey.net//content/view/262/1/
> This article sounds unbalanced and self-serving.

I thought it read a bit like a chronicle of my recent experiences.

> While it I clear that self-made clusters imply added new costs
> in regard of turn-key clusters, they also empower the buyer
> using standard and open solutions by an increased independence from
> the vendor, and increases also its knowledge for future choices.
> This aspect is hard to measure in monetary terms, but certainly very
> important for some users.
> I have  experienced all kinds of clusters (turn-key, mostly
> self-assembled, and partly vendor assembled and tested), and my conclusion
> is that the best is when the user has at least the choice to determine
> the degree of vendor integration/lock-in.   Bad choices occur
> because people are badly informed, and the article is so biased
> that it doesn't improve objective information on this regard, just
> serves as increasing fear and doubt.

In our experiences over the last two clusters, one was delivered n a 
bunch of flat boxes andwe spent several weeks racking, stacking, 
cabling, loading, testing, tweaking and then releasing.  Or, was that 

In our more recent cluster, we took delivery of a purported tested 
system, then lived through 2+ weeks of vendor cabling (pretty, if an 
extended time to achieve), hardware failures, replacements, BIOS 
upgrades (wholesale; shouldn't have been needed), and more hardware 
failures.  Next time, I want to either get a complete turnkey system or 
buy from the various sources and just do it myself, knowing the pitfalls.

Gerry Creager -- gerry.creager at tamu.edu
Texas Mesonet -- AATLT, Texas A&M University
Cell: 979.229.5301 Office: 979.458.4020 FAX: 979.862.3983
Office: 1700 Research Parkway Ste 160, TAMU, College Station, TX 77843

More information about the Beowulf mailing list