[Beowulf] how Google warps your brain

Mark Hahn hahn at mcmaster.ca
Thu Oct 21 11:30:54 PDT 2010

> The real beauty of clusters (to me) has always been at least partly the
> fact that you could build YOURSELF a cluster, just for your own
> research, without having to have major leadership, infrastructure,
> space, or other resources.

sure, but the question is: under what circumstances would you want to?
doing beowulf is indeed easy, and for certain scales and cost structures,
cheap.  if you have a fairly constant personal demand for resources
(always have 80-100 cores busy), then doing it yourself may still make sense.
but the impetus towards centralization is sharing: if your usage is bursty,
having your own cluster would result in low utilization.  and if the same 
funding went towards a large, shared facility, your bursts could be higher.

of course, there's still the issue of autonomy - you control your own
cluster.  but in a sense, that's really just reflecting (un)responsiveness
on the part of whoever manages the shared resource...

I'm pretty convinced that, ignoring granularity or political issues, shared 
resources save a lot in leadership, infrastructure, space, etc.

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