(no subject)

Schilling, Richard RSchilling at affiliatedhealth.org
Mon Jul 17 18:34:18 PDT 2000

I posted this recently, and much to my surprise and embarrasment, it's RTF
format.  Sorry folks.  Here it is again.


Dr. Ligon presents great points. . . 

Great discussion, and I'd like to interject a little $.02 from the health
care industry.  
The attractiveness of beowulf technology lies in its definition: beowulf
refers to a 'class' 
of machines, and general topology, which I believe is what the folks at NASA

That's important, because it lets me adopt the approach to what works best
for my environment. 
Case in point, PVM, MPICH, JPVM or even Serialization of Java classes would,
as I understand 
it be appropriately used in a beowulf cluster.  That flexibility allows 
me to run proof of concepts on the hardware I have available.  

The general definition of beowulf-class machines also lets me focus on the
functionality of 
my application more than the particular toolset used.  Speed of prototyping
is crucial to my research 
efforts where clustering in and of itself is not my core objective.  So, a
general purpose 
definition rather than a detailed specification is important - specific
benchmarks, although 
an initial consideration, can be improved later. 

At the same time having a standard reference to a beowulf-class machine
gives me an 
important frame of reference - and one I'll desperately need once I present
my initial results 
to the boss to ask for more hardware!! 

Richard Schilling 
Web Integration Programmer 
Affiliated Health Services 
Mount Vernon, WA  USA 

-----Original Message----- 
From: Walter B. Ligon III [mailto:walt at parl.ces.clemson.edu] 
Sent: Monday, July 17, 2000 10:56 AM 
To: David S. Greenberg 
Cc: Ward William E PHDN; 'Beowulf' Mailing List (E-mail) 
Subject: Re: philosophical question - limits of beowulf defn 

A quick agreement on both Doug's contribution and David's posting. 
The EL community did grow up as a SUPERSET of Beowulf because there 
are many cluster based systems that are not, technically, a Beouwlf, 
but share many interesting problems.  I think it is even MORE important 
to realize that the EL community is ALSO focused on the open-source (Linux) 
OS issue - which allows us to evolve the OS to better meet the needs of 
more extreme systems (one of which is a Beowulf). 

I have always been rather particular about the name "Beowulf" for two

first, people did cluster computing long before Beowulf.  When Beowulf 
        came out many people said "so what? - it's been done before." 
        but they missed an important point in the COTS HW and open-source 
        OS!  The specific characteristis of a Beowulf mean we are *free* 
        to adapt the architecture because the nodes are dedicated, because 
        the OS is open-source, because parallel computing is our goal.  I 
        think the next-gen Beowulf software we are working on is going to 
        drive that point home like never before. 

second, there was an early tendency for people to say "everything is a 
        Beowulf."  I'm not against everyone joining the party, by there are 
        many DIFFERENT approaches, including high availability designs, 
        true distributed systems, cycle stealing, etc. and they have 
        different issues.  I don't want to dillute the effort going into 
        ANY of these areas byt saying "Hey, its ALL Beowulf, so we're doing 
        Beowulf and we don't need to do any more."  That's not where its at.

        Beowulf is in its infancy, and it is NOT the answer to everyone's 
        problem.  I would rather ORGANIZE our efforts so that ALL of those 
        efforts get the recoginition they deserve than let it all wind up 
        a big cloudy mess! 

So that's why I always butt in on these discussions and why I always take 
the position that I do.  The folks that defined the term had a specific 
thing in mind, and they have repeatedly indicated they want that definition 
to stay true (even though some of them are now off doing DIFFERENT things). 
Some day they may come down and tell me to shut up - but until then, I will 
try to let everyone know where this term came from.  I'm not trying to be an

ass-hole, I just want to let you know. 


Dr. Walter B. Ligon III 
Associate Professor 
ECE Department 
Clemson University 

Beowulf mailing list 
Beowulf at beowulf.org 
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