[Beowulf] how large can we go with 1GB Ethernet? / Re: how large of an installation have people used NFS, with?

Henning Fehrmann henning.fehrmann at aei.mpg.de
Thu Sep 10 00:39:57 PDT 2009


On Wed, Sep 09, 2009 at 03:23:30PM -0400, psc wrote:
> I wonder what would be the sensible biggest cluster possible based on
> 1GB Ethernet network .

Hmmm, may I cheat and use a 10Gb core switch?

If you setup a cluster with few thousand nodes you have to ask yourself
whether this network should be non-blocking or not.

For a non blocking network you need the right core-switch technology.
Unfortunately, there are not many vendors out there which provide
non-blocking Ethernet based core switches but I am aware of at least
two. One provides or will provide 144 10Gb Ethernet ports. Another one
sells switches with more than 1000 1 GB ports.
You could buy edge-switches with 4 10Gb uplinks and 48 1GB ports. If
you just use 40 of them you end up with a 1440 non-blocking 1Gb ports.

It might be also possible to cross connect two of these core-switches
with the help of some smaller switches so that one ends up with 288
10Gb ports and, in principle, one might connect 2880 nodes in a 
non-blocking way, but we did not have the possibility to test it
successfully yet. One of problems is that the internal hash table can
not store that many mac addresses. Anyway, one probably needs to change
the mac addresses of the nodes to avoid an overflow of the hash tables.
An overflow might cause arp storms.

Once this works one runs into some smaller problems. One of them is the arp
cache of the nodes. It should be adjusted to hold as many mac addresses
as you have nodes in the cluster.

> And especially how would you connect those 1GB
> switches together -- now we have (on one of our four clusters) Two 48
> ports gigabit switches connected together with 6 patch cables and I just
> ran out of ports for expansion and wonder where to go from here as we
> already have four clusters and it would be great to stop adding cluster
> and start expending them beyond number of outlets on the switch/s ....
> NFS and 1GB Ethernet works great for us and we want to stick with it ,
> but we would love to find a way how to overcome the current "switch
> limitation".   

With NFS you can nicely test the setup. Use one NFS server and let all
nodes write different files into it and look what happens.


More information about the Beowulf mailing list