[Beowulf] Re: Intro question

Bogdan Costescu Bogdan.Costescu at iwr.uni-heidelberg.de
Wed Dec 3 13:54:43 PST 2008

On Wed, 3 Dec 2008, Mark Hahn wrote:

> I don't know whether there would be any problem putting a real 
> interconnect card (10G, IB, etc) into one of these - some are 
> designed for GPU cards, so would have 8 or 16x pcie slots.

Yes, they often have 2 slots, a PCIe 16x one for a graphics card and a 
PCIe 1x or PCI one for a TV card (for HTPC use ;-)).

> there are "book" format SFF's that might do well for the 
> gigabit/integrated approach too.

If raw performance is not your main interest, yes. These often have 
previous generation or significantly lower speed CPUs and memory and a 
rather bad cooling solution dictated by the space contraints. In 
comparison, most "normal" SFFs can take current generation CPUs and 

One advantage coming from their lower speed/power components is that 
some of the "book" ones use an external power supply, laptop style, 
which generates no noise and eliminates the possibility of broken 

> I wouldn't mention HTPC, though - in stores around here at least 
> that term implies a box specialized to look like AV components, 
> often with milled aluminum bezel, fancy displays, etc.

Is there a law against sexy cluster nodes ? :-)

How about making those fancy displays show a job ID and the current 
CPU load ? Would there be any more need for nagios or ganglia ? :-)

> I think SFF's would be very nice, though probably would mean giving up any
> pretense of server-ish-ness, such as dual sockets or IPMI

I have looked some years ago at such a SFF barebone with 2 CPU sockets 
from Iwill. For some reason I couldn't (maybe still can't) get easily 
Iwill products here, so I quickly lost interest. But this shows that 
someone did think of it and that it's technically possible. However 
today, with multi-core CPUs being mainstream, I can't really see a 
market case for a SFF with more than one CPU socket.

IPMI is the one thing that I really miss in these SFF computers. Not 
so much for sensors monitoring as for power on/power off/reset and 
console redirection. I was hoping that at least the Intel vPro would 
be adopted for SFFs...

Bogdan Costescu

IWR, University of Heidelberg, INF 368, D-69120 Heidelberg, Germany
Phone: +49 6221 54 8240, Fax: +49 6221 54 8850
E-mail: bogdan.costescu at iwr.uni-heidelberg.de

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