[Beowulf] While the knives are out... Wulf Keepers

Jim Lux James.P.Lux at jpl.nasa.gov
Mon Aug 21 07:53:11 PDT 2006

At 11:08 PM 8/20/2006, Greg Lindahl wrote:
>On Thu, Aug 10, 2006 at 10:47:00AM +1000, SIM DOG wrote:
> > I recently visited a large educational institution (that shall remain
> > nameless) that hosts an excellent, world class, science research team.
> > They also have a reasonably large Beowulf environment (over 100 dual 
> nodes).
> >
> > Now maybe it was just the people I was talking too (management) but I
> > get the distinct impression that they treat their 'Wulf as an
> > 'appliance'. It came as a great disappointment :/
>Why so?
>That cluster didn't cost that much compared to half a person, unless
>the person is a grad student. Which doesn't fit their reliability
>criterion ;-)
>I'm a big fan of supercomputing appliances. It's only when a cluster
>is big that it always makes sense to have an on-staff expert.

I'd agree.. it's a sign of maturity of the cluster concept that they *are* 
considered appliances.  Of course, if you are a cluster designer/builder, 
you'd love to tinker with it, but the vast majority of users shouldn't need to.

here's a paraphrase of classic example in a talk I heard (and I wish I 
could remember who it was, or the origin):

Speaker asks all the people in the audience: "Those of you with manual 
transmissions in your car, raise your hand."

3/4 of the audience raises their hand.

Speaker: "YOU, with your hands waving in the air, are NOT the people who 
should be designing the user interfaces.  Build them, fine, but I want the 
application to be like an automatic transmission.. puts the power to the 
wheels in an optimum fashion and I don't have to think about it, manipulate 
it, etc."


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