[Beowulf] Southampton engineers a Raspberry Pi Supercomputer

Vincent Diepeveen diep at xs4all.nl
Wed Sep 12 10:00:24 PDT 2012

> When you are trying to educate people about cluster computing, the  
> most
> important thing is conveying the difficulties (both performance and
> infrastructure related) working at scale -- not simply showing off  
> that
> the thing is "faster."

HPC and beowulf are *only* about performance and nothing else.

What you write is kind of: "i get my salary anyway and i like to toy  
with useless hardware".

Clusters *always* are wasting power, are loud, overexpensive, have  
all sorts of problems,
and can only be fast if you program for them in a very specific manner.

They CAN be used however to take a look into the future what you  
CANNOT calculate at a single
machine for the same price.

You mentionned something about price. Look at ebay.
I know most professors don't like looking there.

$2000 for 85 machines ready to use:


Build a 85 core cluster with it @ 320 GB.

If you explain it's for students and offer $850 the guy might take  
the bid as well.

There is also bunches of 4 core offers of  dual xeon dual core 51xx  
type processor machines. Those are pretty fast actually
and if you build a cluster with THEM, you really have big crunching  
power to impress all your students - not just the geek who
walks on jerusalem sandals.

> Remember, students are paying CUSTOMERS for the
> education; you should assume they are already interested in the  
> concepts
> and theory.  It's not the educators job to spark this interest or feed
> some flop-lust, but it is their job to expose as much of the theory  
> and
> pragmatics to the student as possible.  This IS possible with MANY
> slower machines, but ISN'T possible with FEW faster machines.  If a  
> few
> students are being stubborn like you and want to drop the class  
> because
> the cluster isn't "fast enough," their loss.
> Best,
> ellis
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