Beowulf Questions

Randall Jouett rules at
Tue Jan 7 10:22:12 PST 2003

Howdy John, and thanks for the reply.

On Mon, 2003-01-06 at 09:36, John Burton wrote:
> Ummm...'all "computin" ain't equal'. While checkpoint files might not be 
> useful for what you do, they save thousands of machine and man hours in 
> my business.

With all kidding aside, I can see how (in some applications)
check-point files are and absolute necessity. My only beef
with the situation is that a large amount of time is being
spent doing IO on a "maybe." I do, however, see how they
can be useful.

> Apparently you are not current on cluster technology, or you wouldn't be 
> proposing something that is common knowledge.

As I've said from the beginning, I'm a complete and total
neophyte when it comes to parallel processing and beowulf.
I'm a contractual software engineer, and I specialize in
data-acquisition and process-control software for the oil biz.
I also work part time for Stewart Technology Associates.
(If interested, check out, although
be forewarned that it's a pretty geeky site :^). One of the
reasons I'm on this list is to look at the feasibility of
using a beowulf cluster for computational fluid dynamics.
Rather than send the work down road or have the calculations
take a few days to run on a single PC, I'd like to do this
internally and setup an in-house cluster on some old PCs we
have hanging around.

When I'm not busy doing all of that, I'm usually visiting
my family in Louisiana, and I also do some network administration
in the business world for some friends that own local businesses.
With networking comes the added responsibility of computer security,
of course, which I also help to implement at STA in Houston. I've also
been known to take on embedded-control projects or design a bit of
hardware to solve a given task.

BTW, I'm also on the list to see if I can learn a bit about cluster
administration. So, if the oil biz falls off in a serious way, I might
be able to find a decent job quickly. For the most part, though, I'm
here for FUN, and I enjoy brainstorming with the learned folks here to
see if I my "somtimes old news to the experienced" ideas have any form
of validity. If it's old hat, no big deal. If not, then maybe I might
come up with an idea that could actually help someone. Let's just say
that doing this is a creative outlet that also helps me to understand
all of this stuff quickly. Unfortunately, though, some may see this
as mucking up the signal-to-noise ratio, raising the noise floor to
an unappreciated level." In many respects, they'd be correct! :^). I can
only say that this isn't my intention, and I'm only doing this to
see if my layman ideas and thought processes are at least in the
ballpark when it comes to parallel processing and beowulf.

> 10Base-T is too slow for typical parallel application. Switched 
> 100Base-T is almost as inexpensive.

Great. This is good to know. OTOH, I was trying to think of
ways to put really antiquated gear to use. After all, and
from what I've been reading, doing things cheaply is what
beowulf is all about.

> In my world a check point file is a "snapshot" of the state of running 
> process at a given time. This "snapshot" is complete enough to restart 
> the process at that point should it fail at a later point.

OK. Thanks for the explanation, and that was the way I was thinking
about it when Donald and I were discussing this earlier.

Best Regards,


Randall Jouett
Amateur Radio: AB5NI

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