[Beowulf] recommendations for cluster upgrades

Steve Herborn herborn at usna.edu
Tue May 12 12:38:58 PDT 2009

Well to me it isn't wishing.  I guess it is all going to depend on how BIG
your buy is, but I usually like to have them benchmark my application on
whatever hardware they are proposing if it is different then my current.  If
you are having success with AMD, and as you say "In the interest of
homogeneity" I'd probably stick with the architecture I'm already running if
just adding a couple of nodes.

One thing about the Top500, they are the Top500 of those submitted, not of
all systems out there.  There are many reasons why somebody wouldn't want
their system submitted -- for example people who names are three letter

Steven A. Herborn
U.S. Naval Academy
Advanced Research Computing
410-293-6480 (Desk)
757-418-0505 (Cell)

-----Original Message-----
From: beowulf-bounces at beowulf.org [mailto:beowulf-bounces at beowulf.org] On
Behalf Of Rahul Nabar
Sent: Tuesday, May 12, 2009 3:20 PM
To: Beowulf Mailing List
Subject: [Beowulf] recommendations for cluster upgrades

I'm currently shopping around for a cluster-expansion and was shopping for
options. Anybody out here who's bought new hardware in the  recent past? Any
suggestions? Any horror stories?

We've been using Dell SC1435's with Quad-Core AMD 2354 Opterons @ 2.2GHz. 16
Gig RAM.

Any new-cutting edge stuff I ought to be asking my vendors to put into the
quotes? I already have gigabit bonded backbones and don't think we have the
financial muscle to upgrade to Myrinet or Infiniband yet. In the interest of
homogeniety and not wanting to have dual trees of executibles I might be
tempted to stick with AMDs unless there is compelling temptation otherwise.

I am already looking at the CPU benchmarks on the Intel/AMD websites but
they can sometimes be misleading / misrepresenting other than the obvious
glaring conflict of interest. I rather trust first-hand anecdotal evidence
from you guys actually administering them for scientific applications.
Unless there is a good third party, relevant database?

For some reason the top500 sublists seem skewed to prefer the Intel Xeons.
Why so few Opterons or any other AMD hardware? Just curious if this is
driven by technological inferiority of only a marketing effect. My vendor
seems to be trying to steer me towards an Intel Nehalem or Clovertown for
whatever reasons good or bad.

Ultimately of course, it might be best if I just got to benchmark my very
own application on these CPUs before I bought them. But that's just wishing
I guess!

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