[Beowulf] [OT] HPC and University IT - forum/mailing list?

Michael Huntingdon hunting at ix.netcom.com
Wed Aug 16 21:19:12 PDT 2006

At 04:13 PM 8/15/2006, Mike Davis wrote:
>I'm not 100% sure about that Mark. I care about big-A 
>administration. I care about showing departments what resources are 
>actually available. I care about what is the most efficient use of 
>limited University resources. When I meet with researchers they 
>often say that they had no idea that there were 500+ processors 
>dedicated to research here.
>I know that other people have the same issues. Another is the 
>funding model issue. Which is best overhead, direct, or central 
>budget? Or how about knowing what resources we each provide our 
>users. Does a given organization focus on hardware support, software 
>support or both?
>Those are some of the Big-A issues. Here is one that is both Big-A 
>and small-A.
>Running one of the new Sun x4100's with both dualcore processors at 
>100% uses <270 watts (as determined by kill-a-watt. That is Big-A 
>because it means that we can be more efficient in our use of AC and 
>power. It is small-a for the same reasons. For example spinning up a 
>v20 uses 250 watts for both processors at full power. I can't 
>discuss some of my application specific performance due to license 
>constraints, but I can say that I like the 4100 in general for 
>Computational Physics and Chemistry.

I often scratch my head wondering how certain decisions are make at 
the "central IT" level, so a perspective from the campus that 
involves both performance and up time (plug in the wall) costs is 
refreshing. We far to often see a complete disconnect between the 
two, which very often means that none of the invested parties (at 
either the NSF/NIH/state/federal level) ever really enjoy the value 
of each dollar they invest.

I appreciate that Sun may be suggesting (these days) that their 
systems are more environmentally friendly; however, given the 
price/performance/environmental/support...and really crazy extended 
down time associted with engineering issues, logic at least for some, 
makes distancing significant IT investment with Sun a decision that 
follows very few conversations.

My point comes honestly from your comments, which we hold 
dear.....the growing number of research system/cpu's on campus affect 
each and every one of us on a daily basis. Having spent this week at 
the LSS event at Stanford, I am ever more convinced, how diverse the 
needs...and the number of possible solutions. So that must be a big-A 
approach with a huge tilt in a not so big-A direction.

>Another that is both is what submission systems we are using and Why?
>Same questions, that affect both administration and Administration.
>Mike davis
>Mark Hahn wrote:
>>>beowulf traffic itself is "noise"?  If you are thinking of a "list for
>>>university deans" or members of research support offices or departmental
>>>administerable and accountable should they get audited) -- then yeah, I
>>>think a new list or other venue would be very useful.
>>yes.  the overlap is minimal, I believe - I'd say the two 
>>approaches are even inimical.  someone who is primarily interested 
>>in big-A Administration will have values opposed to mine as a technologist.
>>as a random pot-shot, big-a people tend to have great faith in 
>>negotiating special purchasing relationships with a vendor, or 
>>believe that integration
>>is the high-road to success (or an end in itself).  I know, OTOH,
>>that a vendor who makes a good desktop may make the worlds worst compute
>>nodes, and that, for instance, the service requirements are nearly opposite.
>>here's my general conclusion about central-IT efforts: if the idea 
>>(centralized storage, whatever) is so good,
>>people will beg to use it.  if you have to force people to use it,
>>you are simply wrong in some way (perhaps subtly).
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