[Beowulf] Re: What vendors would you be sure to check out?

Gerry Creager N5JXS gerry.creager at tamu.edu
Mon Jan 2 21:17:11 PST 2006

David Kewley wrote:
> On Saturday 31 December 2005 08:14, Bill Rankin wrote:
>>On Dec 30, 2005, at 4:10 PM, Dan Stromberg wrote:
>>>First of all, thanks much to all who responded!
>>Thanks for the list, Dan.  I appreciate your efforts.
> Ditto.
>>One comment:
>>>- A recommendation against Dell, due to having only recently
>>>started doing AMD, and due to frequently insisting on selling a
>>>microsoft license with each box.  Also, they will sometimes send
>>>parts other than what you requested, unless you specifically say
>>>you want no substitutions.
>>This is very odd.  I have purchased about 500 systems from Dell over
>>the last 2-1/2 years.  This has been a collection of Poweredge 1750s,
>>2650, SC1425's and a lot of 5224/5324 GigE switches and racks.
> I have a 1024-node Dell cluster.  It's great.

2 years ago whe I spec'd our Appro cluster we actually went out for 
bids.  Dell responded.  Among other things, they decided we needed their 
managed 100Mb/s switches for interconnect (GBE was in the RFQ), and they 
told me we had to get WinXP for our HPC work.  They assured me there was 
a good fortran compiler and that MPI ran on XP...  Their quote was a 
factor of 2x higher than the next highest quote.

I spent time on the phone with our University rep and her SE and was 
subjected to the kind of treatment I'd received from IBM in the '70s 
when I wanted a real-time system for medical research... THEY knew what 
I needed and I should just listen.

If they're now easier to deal with, we'll know.  I've gotta go out for 
bids again in a couple of months for 64 nodes of multiproc dual core. 
They'll be on the list but...

>>1) I have never had a problem getting the MS license dropped from the
>>order.  In fact, on their web-based server configuration page they
>>specifically have a "No installed OS" selection available.
>>2) I have always received the systems that I have ordered w/o
>>substitution.  Any errors in the orders were handled quickly by the
>>Dell sales people.
> I agree with Bill.  I think whoever suggested that these issues are 
> problems is referring more to consumer-oriented sales than to rackmount 
> cluster sales.
> You should have none of these types of problems if you buy 
> cluster-oriented rackmount stuff.  Just ask Dell hard questions up 
> front, make certain that the order specifies exactly what you want, and 
> if Dell screws up, point it out to them.  I predict that they'll fix it 
> no problem; that's certainly been my experience.

Well, our University has exactly one sales droid for all Dell sales. 
I'm not sure she can differentiate between rack-mount/cluster hardware 
and desktops, although her SE can apparently tell the difference.  I've 
not had trouble getting servers with no s/w before, but when I was 
recently offered the opportunity to look at their blades, I was told 
they came with the new Windows HPC s/w.  No thanks.

>>As for the "AMD and Dell" part, did I miss something here?  While I
>>suspect that Dell has been investigating AMD-based servers and
>>probably has developed some prototypes in the back lab (as Michael
>>Dell has hinted in past press releases), I was not aware of any
>>offerings from Dell that use AMD processors.  Does someone have a URL
>>to a press release?
> To the best of my knowledge, whoever suggested that Dell has recently 
> started doing AMD is misinformed, at least if doing == selling.  
> They're still Intel-only as far as I know.

They've forayed into AMD and back out several times.  I don't think 
they're selling anything right now that way.

Gerry Creager -- gerry.creager at tamu.edu
Texas Mesonet -- AATLT, Texas A&M University	
Cell: 979.229.5301 Office: 979.458.4020 FAX: 979.847.8578
Page: 979.228.0173
Office: 903A Eller Bldg, TAMU, College Station, TX 77843

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