LINUX CLUSTER: vendors & critical issues

Ivan Oleynik oleynik at
Mon Jun 10 17:57:32 PDT 2002

Dear Colleagues,

We are going to acquire a Linux cluster for running MPI type applications
such as molecular dynamics, quantum mechanical density functional plane
wave and localized orbitals programs. This involves heavy numerical
calculations including standard linear algebra such as
eigenvalues-eignevectors solvers (sca-LAPACK), integration of Newtons
equations of motions for up to million particles, etc. We prefer to get as
"turnkey" system as possible would like to avoid studying hardware issues
related to Beowulf DIY.

I would really appreciate if someone could recommend a good vendor, who
enthusiastically works with academics, understands and adequately responds
to customer needs and requirements, provides good warranty support of
hardware and, the most importantly, sells reliable state-of-the-art
cluster systems.

I would also like to get some technical advice regarding critical issues
we need to keep in mind during the process of choosing configuration. To
be specific, I am thinking of 24 node cluster with the following node
configuration: dual AMD Athlon 2000+ (2100+) MP processor, 2Gb DDR SDRAM &
40Gb IDE hard drive. Obviously, the most important question is the choice
of interconnect.  I am aware of 3 standard options: Gigabit Ethernet,
Myrinet, and Dolphi Wulfkit. I would appreciate very much if someone could
share an experience regarding which of these 3 choices gives an optimum
balance of performance (especially for heavy numerics) and price.

Thanks very much,

Ivan Oleynik

Ivan I. Oleynik                       E-mail : oleynik at
Department of Physics
University of South Florida
4202 East Fowler Avenue                  Tel : (813) 974-8186
Tampa, Florida 33620-5700                Fax : (813) 974-5813

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