[Beowulf] Begginer questions

Brian Dobbins brian.dobbins at yale.edu
Sat Aug 6 18:41:17 PDT 2005

Hi Nicholas,

  As you'll find as you learn more and more about Beowulf systems, 
there's always more than one way to do things.  Some people make really 
powerful head (or 'master') nodes because it's necessary - lots of 
users, all compiling codes, or doing I/O through NFS on the head node.  
Other people have a head node for a small number of people who just use 
it for job submission and status checking, in which case a really 
powerful system isn't necessary.

  For you, if you're new to this and plan on developing parallel codes, 
you might want to ask yourself if having a 2.0 Ghz P4 will cut down on 
your development time for compiling, etc.  If so, sure, put that as the 
head node.  With simple codes, though, this really won't make a big 
difference, and I'd probably put the P3 900 Mhz system as the head, so 
*running* your codes will be faster.  As a plus, the closer in speed all 
the compute nodes are, the more directly you can partition the work - in 
other words you don't need to be as aware of the speed differences for 
synchronizing steps in a parallel code. 

  Most important of all, is just to try things out and give it a shot - 
learn as much as you can, and then try new things.  To that end, I'd 
definitely suggest trying to put in the other network cards and doing 
channel bonding... even if it doesn't help your codes run faster, you'll 
still have learned something more, right?

  In short: either way is fine, just give it a shot and having done it 
once, you'll then know what works best for *you*.  :-)

  Best of luck,
  - Brian

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