LINUX CLUSTER: vendors & critical issues

Walter B. Ligon III walt at
Tue Jun 11 12:05:35 PDT 2002


> 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.

We have been very happy with Atipa Technologies - They've delivered for
us quite well.

As for interconnect - the issue mostly comes down to latency versus
bandwidth and what your application REALLY needs.  I see many folks just
buy the fastest thing without really knowing what they need.  A detailed
explanation is really beyond the scope of an email.

The other thing to consider is driver support and stability of the system
software.  GigE wins here mostly because it is a commodity solution.  It is
also the cheapest for smallish clusters (like yours) as switches of that
size can be had for a reasonable price.  It delivers pretty good bandwidth
but not as good latency.  My general recommendation is that if your app
is SERIOUSLY in need of extremely low latency, a cluster might not be right
for you - but Myrinet is probably the best choice otherwise.

In the best of all worlds you should try to run your code on a couple of
clusters and get a feeling for what the networking needs really are.  The
exotic interconnects can be a pain to get up and keep up and expand in the
future - if it turns out you really don't need them and could have done
as well with GigE!

A vendor like Atipa might be able to help you out with benchmarks also.

Good Luck,


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

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