[Beowulf] SGI to offer Windows on clusters

Mark Hahn hahn at MCMASTER.CA
Fri Jan 19 12:23:06 PST 2007

> I know some of you aren't, um, tolerant of Microsoft for various reasons

"tolerant" is the wrong word.  beowulf is, definitionally, open-source.
anyone using *nix has obviously made a decision (aesthetic, commercial, etc)
to avoid the dominant OS; this is rejection rather than ill tolerance...

> and we've designed for those customers. So, users get an OS, job
> scheduler, management package, and MPI stack for < $500.

compared to $0.

in that light, the question is- does the academic cost include some 
form of support?

> Our MPI stack is based on MPICH2 but we've made performance and security
> enhancements. The folks at ANL are very talented UNIX developers but

I cynically guess the "security" enhancements are not really enhancements,
but rather simply making it work in the MSFT universe (domain controller,
etc).  is that correct?

> Windows is more efficient using async overlapped I/O. We've made other,

what _would_ be interesting is to hear about the technical aspects.
that is: how much difference does this make?  is the impetus to use 
async mainly to batch completion events (sort of like mpi_waitall)?
does it affect latency?  how does it compare to normal mpich on the same
hardware under linux?

also, is there any documentation on the job scheduler?

these kind of specifics would, truely,  be most gratefully "tolerated" ;)

> ANL for incorporation in future MPICH stacks. We're also the first group
> at Microsoft making these kinds of sizable contributions back to the
> open source community.

are the contributions entirely specific to the windows API?
(I would not call it a contribution if you've simply ported to the 
architecture you own...)

> think we're going to help the community bring HPC into mainstream
> computing.

I'd be curious to understand what that means.  HPC as implemented by 
beowulves seems entirely mainstream to me.  (lots of places already have 
substituted a GUI button for a queue-submit command...)

regards, mark hahn.

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