[Beowulf] some tips on new cluster hardware

Guilherme Menegon Arantes garantes at iq.usp.br
Sun Mar 16 17:27:38 PDT 2008

On Sun, Mar 16, 2008 at 06:25:47PM -0400, Mark Hahn wrote:
> it sounds to me as if you've done some research, and just want help 
> shopping.

Yes. We don't have much cheap hardware options around here. Nor
well-educated sellers that can help finding solutions, so I was just
asking to see if you could give me some ideas.

> how thorough was your research?  often people start with preconceptions
> that limit the range of solutions they look at, unnecessarily.  for 
> instance,
> you have clearly decided you want Gb+jumbo - how did you decide that?

Based on previous experience. It helps considerably with one of our
applications, which has loads of disk I/O (previous and new cluster will 
be diskless).

> if you're concerned about bandwidth, might you be better off with some 
> other interconnect?  IB has gotten a lot cheaper recently.

We are aware of that. Actually, we are in touch with Colfax to import
some chips.
> to me, cluster hardware should really take one of two approaches:
> high road or low.  the high road includes IB or 10Ge, and tends to 

Agreed. We are in the low side at the mo, because of scarce funds and 
little experience. But, want to learn/get experience (with IB, for 
example) and move towards the higher end road.

> feeling DIYish, you can mount boards caseless for extra savings (and often
> better control of airflow!)

No, thanks. We are going rackmount. 

> I also think you should avoid falling in love with your ethernet switch ;)

Don't worry, I won't change my girlfriend for that ;-), but a 24 port 
(as suggested by somelse on Beowulf before) switch is something I am 
considering. Just a bit unsure of D-Link brand, since I had problems
with it before (wireless ap and NIC).

Thanks for the suggestions/attention,


Guilherme Menegon Arantes, PhD       São Paulo, Brasil

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