[Beowulf] bonic projects on a cluster

Robert G. Brown rgb at phy.duke.edu
Sat Mar 22 20:26:14 PDT 2008

On Sat, 22 Mar 2008, Ellis Wilson wrote:

> I'm very interested to hear of some applications for
> such loosely connected "clusters" such as boinc would
> create.  My crappy 100mb connection is alright for the
> few embarrassingly parallel applications I've applied
> to it which do not have a large origin dataset, but
> again, these are very few.  I would imagine the
> connection (with hops and an even slower/less
> dedicated interconnect at each hop) for boinc "nodes"
> would be far worse.  I looked for examples on the
> boinc site briefly, but cannot seem to find any.
> Any notable embarrassingly parallel problems you all
> have seen or worked with?  Sorry for my lack of
> experience in this area.

Almost all importance sampling Monte Carlo computations fit into the
category of stuff that works wonderfully on anything from sneakernet on
up.  I used to distribute jobs on with tcl/expect scripts running over
rsh and 10 Mbps ethernet back in the early to mid 90's.  Lots of other
physics computations are one CPU, one job, but a large parameter space
to be investigated with many jobs.  Random number generator testing
could be parallelized nicely with very low bandwidth connections
(although I haven't even thought seriously about parallelizing dieharder
yet -- it's difficult enough to mess with the code as serial
modular tests so far).  Lots of graphical processing fits in a category
that will work, although some does start getting up into bw intensive as
well -- it depends as always on the granularity and ratio of computation
to communication for the specific task.

In general code that requires only "small data" for startup and that
spans a large parametric space with that small data, that takes a
substantial amount of time to run a computation from that data, and that
returns (say) a small vector of numbers to a central aggregator in a
master-slave sort of computation is a very reasonable candidate for this
sort of cluster.  I ran code for years that I used to joke about
distributing on OnSpin3d at Home...;-)


> Ellis
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Robert G. Brown                            Phone(cell): 1-919-280-8443
Duke University Physics Dept, Box 90305
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Web: http://www.phy.duke.edu/~rgb
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