[Beowulf] portable clusters

John Bushnell bushnell at chem.ucsb.edu
Mon Nov 28 14:34:55 PST 2005

On Mon, 28 Nov 2005, Jim Lux wrote:

> But basically, yes, the idea is to minimize the number of boxes.. One, the 
> Windows laptop which talks to the hardware and feeds the cluster to do the 
> data analysis, the other, the cluster box (we're not talking hundreds of 
> nodes here.. probably more like 8-20)  The cluster box is envisioned to have 
> two wires: power and network, and is generically, the size of a big breadbox 
> or a suitcase(i.e. it would fit in the trunk of a car or could be checked as 
> luggage...)
> Ideally, the cluster has NO permanent storage within it (i.e. if you turn off 
> the power, all inside is forgotten). Removable media could potentially solve 
> the problem, but then you've added a third thing to carry around and 
> potentially lose, as well as adding a connector that has to be dealt with. 
> Having it totally diskless helps with some environmental requirements (you 
> can drop it, shock it, or vibe it, and it's easier to deal with the dust 
> ingress problem)...
> The goal here is to have a credible concept to improve the "system" 
> performance by adding on a computatational element to an existing portable 
> system that is Windows based without requiring any hardware changes to the 
> windows system, or without requiring significant software mods to the windows 
> system (i.e. running some new program is ok, running a windows emulator is 
> not).

   Would something like the BlackDog device be useful?  Plug it into
a USB port on the laptop, have it load the cluster...  You would
probably still need the install image(s) on the Windows laptop as
BlackDog only holds 256/512 MB flash memory.  But from the description
at http://www.projectblackdog.com/product.html it doesn't sound too
intrusive to your Windows system, depending on how you set it up.

     - John

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