Scyld slave node configuration question

Daniel Ridge newt at
Sat Nov 18 16:47:47 PST 2000


On Sat, 18 Nov 2000, Ken wrote:

> Daniel Ridge wrote:
> > 
> > 
> > There is no easy way to use ISA NICs at this time with our product. Our
> > forecasting department doesn't really show ISA rallying a big comeback
> > either...
> > 
> Would something like Firewire or USB2 be usable for clustering or is
> there some inherent problem?

In times past, I have had high hopes for high-performance consumer
interconnects -- but this is a side issue I will address seperately.

The reason for no ISA support in Scyld Beowulf is two-fold. We use
PCI plug-and-play info (vendor and device ids) to load kernel modules
for networking. This approach -- although narrowly focused on node boot
in our case -- is similar to software like RedHat's 'kudzu' for standalone

In order to support loading ISA modules, we would have to develop and
debug minimal ISA autodetection code for a defunct bus. The ISA bus
cannot even host a reasonable Fast Ethernet NIC. I understand the
value of hobbyist hackers -- but PCI Fast Ethernet NICs are available
for under $10.

To the hard core hobbyists out there who wish to experiment with degree-6
bonded, meshed interconnects using ISA NICs, I would suggest that you
could sell the CDROM and hard drives from your target systems on EBay
and use the funds to buy some RealTek NICs. Barring this, I may have to
establish a personal trust to dole out PCI cards to starving candidates
who submit a 10,000 word essay about why they deserve an upgrade from
their WD8003 boards. (details to follow in a seperate posting...)

On the topic of consumer interconnects: I eagerly await one that can
exceed the price/performance of Ethernet. I really do. I have just retired
a Sony VAIO 505 that came -- and went -- with a virgin, unmolested
FireWire port. Frankly, the USB port had only a casual one-time affair
with a Logitech web cam ; I believe the relationship was never consummated
with useful bits of any type.

Just as USB1 is upon (I hear) the cusp of becoming a practical reality,
I understand that 3Com is now shipping 'Power base T' -- Ethernet
switches that accept remote power over unused pairs in place of a separate
wall brick.

I expect TCP/IP-over-Ethernet mice before a USB2 back-to-back cable that
is cheaper than two NICs and a crossover cable.   

To more completely answer your original question, Ken, FireWire and USB
both provide an essentially reasonable scheme for device identification
and are both completely doable. Getting these devices to work at all under
Linux with some kind of stable kernel will be the real trick.

Regards (and apologies for the screed!),
	Dan Ridge
	Scyld Computing Corporation

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