CPU Choices

Rob Myers rob.myers at gtri.gatech.edu
Thu Sep 27 10:27:11 PDT 2001

On Thu, 2001-09-20 at 07:30, Nick Gregory wrote:
> Hello,
> I am doing some research into the configuration of a 32 1U node Beowulf cluster 
> and have a question regarding CPU configuration.
> The current choice is between Intel P4s as Itaniums seem a little bleeding edge at 
> the moment, or the latest AMD chips.

you should not even consider itaniums unless you absolutely must have a
64bit platform.

> AMD seem to be getting a impressive performance for the price, but I'm a little 
> concerned about the lack of mature multiprocessor chipsets and their heat issues.

i have 2 tyan thunder k7 based systems (amd-760mp chipset) which have
been rock solid after upgrading to the latest bios.  they do much better
clock for clock than my dual p3 systems.  of course they are quite warm,
and i don't think i would have the guts to stuff them in a 1U case. :)

> Intel on the other-hand have the MP chipsets but seem to be falling down with 
> current lack of (non-commercial ) complier that support MMX and SSE, and the 
> whole issue of Rambus Vs DDR memory.

whatever platform you choose you should really invest in a good
compiler.  my experience is that commercial compilers can improve speeds
anywhere from 20-50%.  which means they are well worth the money in most
cases.  i know portland groups latest supports SSE2 (p4).  also you can
download intel's compiler for p4's for linux for a free trial period. 

> I would be grateful for any insight into a choice of CPU and its configuration in 
> terms of price/performance/expandability, or any other factor I should be 
> considering.
> Thanks
> Nick

keep in mind that cooling will be an issue for any 32 nodes you
assemble, no matter what chips you choose.

hope that helps


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