[Beowulf] Benchmarking a Cluster

John Hearns john.hearns at streamline-computing.com
Wed Dec 29 02:07:20 PST 2004

On Tue, 2004-12-28 at 16:05 -0600, Patrick McDonnell wrote:
> Hi,
> My high school has been working on a small beowulf cluster, consisting of 
> several old computers (and a couple newer ones).  (More specs available on 
> the website in my sig).  While the cluster is by no means powerful enough to 
> impress people with benchmarks, it would be nice to be "buzzword-compliant," 
> and at least have some nice graphs showing "benchmarks."
I hope you have had fun building your project - and I'm sure you learned

You've asked the $20 000 question on this list!
Discussions about benchmarking take place all the time :-)

Actually you have done the right thing - benchmark your setup with some
example codes you are interested in running. That is the conclusion of
most benchmarking discussions here!

The next stage for you, should you be interested, is to go do some
research in your local library or on the internet re. benchmarking.
You'll get good advice from other people on this list.

Another thought I had would be to go to the Top 500 website
http://www.top500.org  and look at how benchmarking is done for that
list. Don't be at all disappointed if you get a low result - it would be
a good achievement to get to the stage of running the benchmark,
and you don't have a system costing many $$$
But it would be instructive to get your benchmark number, and see what
rank your setup would have had ten years ago.

For the list - I realise that it is a bad idea to point Patrick to
this one benchmark, but the intent is to point the students at the 
Top 500 and get them to see the systems there.

Patrick, there are plenty of other resources on benchmarking,
including the book on Beowulf Clustering by Sterling et. al. (MIT Press)

The new OReilly book on clusters suggests the following benchmarks:

HINT, used to test subsystem performance  http://hint.byu.edu

High Performance Linpack (as used in Top 500 ranking)

Iozone for disk and filesystem benchmarking   http://www.iozone.org

Iperf to measure network performance

Just getting some of these benchmarks to run will teach you and your
team a lot. 
Happy New Year when it comes, and don't spend TOO much time in front
of those monitors!

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