[Beowulf] El Reg: AMD reveals potent parallel processing breakthrough

Lux, Jim (337C) james.p.lux at jpl.nasa.gov
Sat May 11 10:39:01 PDT 2013

On 5/11/13 9:55 AM, "Vincent Diepeveen" <diep at xs4all.nl> wrote:

>On May 11, 2013, at 6:29 PM, Lux, Jim (337C) wrote:
>> On 5/11/13 2:06 AM, "Vincent Diepeveen" <diep at xs4all.nl> wrote:
>> I don't think a Arduino cluster is something you would build to do
>> actual
>> computation. Just imagine.. All those little 18MHz CPUs with their
>> 16 bit
>> integer CPU just merrily spinning away.
>> You'd do it to fool with cluster interconnect topologies, simple
>> parallelism, experimenting with fault tolerance when a link
>> disappears,
>> and stuff like that. Particularly in an educational setting, where you
>> could fairly inexpensively set up 20 or 30 people with a 15-20 node
>> cluster.
> From educational viewpoint a cluster out of low clocked cpu's that
>are slower
>than the bandwidth it has, is completely wasted time and utter useless.

My original Arudino cluster (arduwulf?) was to use serial interfaces,
either SPI or UART (or even big banging UART).  That would be nicely slow.

I don't know that the speed of the CPU vs speed of interconnect is all
that relevant for educational purposes.  You could quite easily try
different communications topologies, look at ways to propagate data across
the cluster, investigate fault tolerance, etc.

Maybe more of a "networking" experimental platform.

>Get something better for your money there :)

Hard to beat $19/node plus the cost of some wire and maybe a USB hub to
talk to them all. http://www.pjrc.com/store/teensy.html
rPi is in the same price range

So, for, say, $200-300, you could give a student a platform with 8-10
nodes made from off the shelf widgets that they could do work on.  At that
price, you're in "expensive textbook" territory, and the student might be
able to afford it.

A class of 30 would only be $10k, which is down in the "discretionary"
budget territory.

You could write a library that provides MPI-like or sockets-like
interfaces, as well.

I don't know that you could get there with any sort of standard PC based
scheme. I've been getting some Atom based mobos for about $90 each
recently, but you still need to add a power supply. You'd probably boot
off the net so you don't need a disk drive.

And then there's the physical size issue.  Put together a cluster of 8
mini-itx mobos and you're looking at a fairly large pile of hardware. You
would, of course, be able to run vanilla Linux on them.  If you're using
off the shelf stuff (I.e. Not making a 8 way ATX power supply), it's
probably $100/node by the time you're done, so it's now a $800-1000 cost.

That's high enough to be above the "it might be fun to try" threshold.

It kind of depends on the pedagogical objectives..


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