[Beowulf] Re: Setting up a new Beowulf cluster

David Mathog mathog at caltech.edu
Wed Feb 13 11:00:46 PST 2008

"Robert G. Brown" <rgb at phy.duke.edu> wrote:

> Your cluster will need a home, and there are good homes and not
> so good homes depending on its scale.

A cluster in its home will be somebody's neighbor.  It may not be a very
nice neighbor.  In general you do not want to put a rack's worth of
computers in a room which is normally inhabited.  Too much noise.  WAY
too much noise.  Did I mention NOISE?  There is no inexpensive way to
quiet down a rack because to first order sound insulation == heat
insulation.  It can be quiet, or it can be cool, but it is really hard
to do both.  Your best bet is to place large numbers of computers
in a machine room of some sort.  A normal framed wall may be enough to
subdue most of the noise for a smallish machine room, so that the rooms
on either side can be used for normal tasks.  (The low frequencies may
still come through, but the resulting dull rumble is not that
obtrusive.)  The noise could in some cases travel through the 
ventilation to adjoining rooms.  It is easy to test for sound properties
during construction - place a radio in the machine room, turn it to
pure static, and crank the volume up until it is obnoxious.  Then see
what it sounds like outside and next door.

Also buy some hearing protection ear muffs for use in the machine
room.  They are much cheaper than hearing aids.


David Mathog
mathog at caltech.edu
Manager, Sequence Analysis Facility, Biology Division, Caltech

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