[Beowulf] Begginers question # 1

John Hearns hearnsj at googlemail.com
Mon Oct 4 23:05:06 PDT 2010

On 25 September 2010 18:07, gabriel lorenzo <macglobalus at yahoo.com> wrote:
> If I build a cluster with 8 motherboards with 1 single core each would it be the same as using just one motherboard but with two quad core processors?

My response is that this is a list about building clusters from
commonly used PCs - a 'Beowulf'.
Gabriel, if you asked this question two years ago this list would be
very clear on giving you advice on building a cluster from 8

However, the era of multicore processors is now upon us, and as
Gabriel has found if you look at a simple metric - price per core -
you hit a sweet spot of 8 cores on one motherboard. As I have said
before - the day of the SMP system has returned.

OK - but now for my answer. The one motherboard system will be
excellent for you to learn parallel programming. Go out and buy it.

Now for the second part of my answer - the one motherboard system will
be inevitably limited in RAM, unless you are very, very rich. So the 8
motherboard cluster is still useful for those problems which need more
memory. It also scales better - you can add more systems. It also
suits applications which need to perform a lot of input/output - take
movie rendering for instance.

The 8 motherboard system will help you learn about cluster install
techniques - how to install the smae image on many systems, or how to
run systems with no disks, and also will teach a lot about networking
- as you fundamentally have to have a network to get it running, and
will have to o network troubleshooting.

So I guess you need to look at parallel programming versus learning
about cluster configuration and management.

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