[Beowulf] Network considerations for new generation cheap beowulf cluster

Vincent Diepeveen diep at xs4all.nl
Fri May 18 06:41:20 PDT 2007

hi All of you,

Now that developments go fast in CPU land, by 22 july or so, intel drops price of its quad core to $266 more or less.
Hopefully AMD's quadcore chip releases soon too for a decent price.

As intels memory subsystem is real weak, not to mention the extra price that AMD and intel ask for dual socket/quad socket capable chips, the optimal node is a single socket node.

4 cores is already a lot anyway for 1 highend network card.

That means in short that you can produce for quite little money, far under $500, a node with 4 cores, 
or considering the far higher taxrates in Europe, far under 500 euro in Europe.

Basically what a node needs is a mainboard, a bit of RAM, and a cpu with cooler. That keeps a node tiny and it's easier coolable. With some wood then you can build a great case that holds many nodes. Booting of course diskless over the gigabit network. Of course interesting to know secondly is whether putting in ECC-reg ram is interesting, considering its scandaleous high price always.

What are opinions here?

Of course now the question is how to get a reasonable low latency highend network with a reasonable bandwidth (latency bigger priority than bandwidth of course) and of course being capable of reading in memory without writing. Of course the switch/routing prices + cable prices need to be included in those price considerations.

Perhaps some bit older generation card gets sold very cheap now. What are the options the coming years there, any manufacturer keeping up with the dropped price of a single quad core node?

Gigabit ethernet is not an option of course, that just works for embarrassingly parallel software, it's usually interrupting bigtime the cpu and has an ugly one-way pingpong latency, especially when there is several threads simultaneously shipping messages. 

What are the options for the network in the future?


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