[Beowulf] More cores/More processors/More nodes?

Michael Creel michael.creel at uab.es
Mon Oct 2 04:21:45 PDT 2006

Greg Lindahl wrote:
> On Thu, Sep 28, 2006 at 07:06:14PM +0100, Peter Wainwright wrote:
>> What (in your opinion) is the right tradeoff between more cores,
>> more processors and more individual compute nodes?
> $/performance.
> Once you have your code written into pure MPI form, then you can run
> on any of the above alternatives. Then you can simply work out
> the price for various things, and make a guess at the performance.
> Run a few benchmarks to check your guesses.
> The general rules work like this:
> * The more cores per node, the less performance per core, due to
>   imperfect scaling plus generally you only have 1 interconnect
>   card/node.
> * Note that most interconnects don't scale very well to more
>   cores per node, for example the "latency" number everyone
>   quotes for interconnects is just 1 core/node. At 4 cores/node
>   this number is much worse for most interconnects.
> * The more cores per node, the price is often higher per core,
>   although this varies. You buy less interconnect, but you pay
>   more for fancier processors and motherboards.
> We talk about a "sweet spot", that's still (in my opinion) 2 dual-core
> cpus per node.
>> However, I do not understand what happens when you have
>> multi-processor/multi-core nodes in a cluster.  Do you just use MPI
>> (with each thread using its own non-shared memory) or is there any
>> way to do "mixed-mode" programming which takes advantage of shared
>> memory within a node (like, an MPI/OpenMP hybrid?).
> The first is the easiest. MPI takes advantage of shared memory within
> the node.
> The hybrid model is a lot more work for the programmer, and often is
> slower than pure MPI. And it hurts interconnect performance because you
> usually end up with just 1 core driving the interconnect.
> -- greg

A claimed record for gflops per dollar, at least a few months ago, was 
set using overclocked Pentium D dual core processors.

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