[Beowulf] motherboards for diskless nodes

John Hearns john.hearns at streamline-computing.com
Fri Feb 25 00:16:13 PST 2005

On Thu, 2005-02-24 at 18:20 -0500, Jamie Rollins wrote:
> Hello.  I am new to this list, and to beowulfery in general.  I am working
> at a physics lab and we have decided to put together a relatively small
> beowulf cluster for doing data analysis.  I was wondering if people on
> this list could answer a couple of my newbie questions.
> The basic idea of the system is that it would be a collection of 16 to 32
> off-the-shelf motherboards, all booting off the network and operating
> completely disklessly.  We're looking at amd64 architecture running
> Debian, although we're flexible (at least with the architecture ;).  Most
> of my questions have to do with diskless operation.

  why are you going diskless?
IDE hard drives cost very little, and you can still do your network
Pick your favourite toolkit, Rocks, Oscar, Warewulf and away you go.

BTW, have a look at Clusterworld http://www.clusterworld.com
They have a project for a low-cost cluster which is similar to your

Also, with the caveat that I work for a clustering company,
why not look at a small turnkey cluster?
I fully acknowledge that building a small cluster from scratch will be
a good learning exercise, and you can get to grips with the motherboard,
PXE etc. 
However if you are spending a research grant, I'd argue that it would be
cost effective to buy a system with support from any one of the
companies that do this.
If you get a prebuilt cluster, the company will have done the research
on PXE booting, chosen gigabit interfaces and switches which perform
well, chosen components which will last. And when your power supplies
fail, or a disk fails someone will come round to replace them.
And you can get on with doing your science.

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