[Beowulf] Estimating cluster power consumption

Douglas Eadline deadline at clustermonkey.net
Thu Dec 15 08:30:10 PST 2005

Here is a data point:

The Value Cluster (http://www.clustermonkey.net//content/view/41/33/) is
eight Sempron 2500 processors. The head node has 512 MByte of RAM, 64MB
AGP Video card, a DVD/CD Reader/Burner, 160 GBytes of RAID 1 storage, two
FastE links, and one GigE link. The seven worker nodes have 256 MBytes of
RAM, a FastE link, and a GigE link and no hard drive.

Using a Kill-A-Watt I measured between 650-675 Watts running under load.

A Kill-A-Watt device is a great investment when doing something like this
so you don't end up building a Kill-A-Self cluster.

And, BTW, I use Wake-on-Lan to power up the worker nodes when I need to
use the cluster. That way I don't Kill-My-Wallet with eight nodes running


> Hi all. I'm trying to track down some threads from
> this group that date back to the fall of 2003 (Sept -
> Nov). These don't seem to be in the Beowulf mailing
> list archive. In particular, I read in Jeff Layton's
> "Cluster Environments" article
> (http://www.clustermonkey.net//content/view/40/32/)
> that some cluster power considerations were discussed
> in these threads.
> Alternatively, if someone here has some insights and
> can spare a few moments, I have a few questions.
> First I should say that I just have a little
> experimental cluster (5 nodes including master) right
> now, but have an opportunity to more than double this
> size very cheaply. The compute nodes are a mixture of
> 366 - 450 Mhz boxes, 128 - 256 Mb ram. Currently they
> have hard drives, but I'm seriously considering going
> diskless (for the learning experience, amoung other
> things). Also, the compute nodes are just boxes (no
> monitor, keyboard, or mouse). The master node has an
> 1800 AMD cpu, 512 ram, and 60 Gb hard drive. I'll be
> mainly using the cluster for number crunching
> experiments (primality testing, various integer
> factorisation implemetations, etc). A typical cluster
> run could last anywhere from a day to several weeks
> (possibly months?).
> My house, which contains my cluster room, is rather
> old. Looking at my breaker panel, it looks like my
> cluster room shares a 15 amp breaker with an adjoining
> room (sad, I know).
> Questions
> 1) About how many of the above mentioned nodes would I
> be able to safely run?
> 2) Is there any chance of a fire hazzard if the
> breaker is overloaded or will the breaker just trip?
> 3) How does one estimate how many nodes they can
> safely run?
> 4) Would running the cluster diskless help much with
> power consumption? What about no CD and floppy drive?
> 5) How much juice should be flowing to the room to run
> a cluster of 16 such nodes?
> 6) What's the least expensive way of getting more
> electricity to the room? I can't do it myself (at
> least I think I can't). Which is the more desirable --
> increasing the existing breaker amperage (if possible)
> or getting a second breaker box (or replacing the
> existing box with a bigger and better box)? The house
> has copper wiring in the basement, which may affect
> the cost (I also live in Canada too, eh!).
> 7) What are some good references to answer such
> questions? I'd even spend money on a book, if it were
> recommended highly enough.
> Thanks in advance
> Rob
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