[Beowulf] Lifespan of a cluster

Andrew Holway andrew.holway at gmail.com
Sun Apr 27 02:28:00 PDT 2014

Hi Jörg,

Typically we need to be looking at the amount of performance per unit
of power that computers give us in order to get an objective analysis.

Lets assume that all computer cores consume 20W of power and cost
£200. Models from 10 years ago give us 20GFLOP. Lets assume that this
performance doubles every two years.

We can then start to make the analysis: http://imgur.com/a/ESHHK

Disclaimer: Techniques and analysis shown here are probably wildly
inaccurate and stupid. Use at your own risk :)



On 27 April 2014 09:45, Jörg Saßmannshausen <j.sassmannshausen at ucl.ac.uk> wrote:
> Dear all,
> in some of the discussions here I came across the 'lifespan of a cluster'
> argument. What I was wondering is: how long is that in HPC for number
> crunching?
> Is it 3 years (end of warranty), 5 years (making good use of hardware) or
> longer?
> The reason behind that asking is: I got clusters here which are 10 years old,
> and quite a number of them, and I would like to get a scheme implemented to
> get the hardware replaced every X years with X being the 'lifespan of a
> cluster'. One of the various options which are currently thrown around is to
> move from my local data-centre (3 rooms, one is purely for the backup/file
> storage and the other two for HPC) into the College shared data centre (single
> room). IF we are doing that, I am a bit worried that I get told in 5 years
> time (for the sake of that argument): your clusters are end of lifetime, you
> have to get rid of them as we need space / they are consuming too much energy.
> Thus, I am looking to get some answers for: how long are clusters run
> typically and how is that done in other shared data centres?
> The current funding situation here means it is difficult, if not impossible, to
> get HPC hardware from funding agencies. Even if you get a bit of money, it is
> just enough to get a new node. So most clusters are a bit organically grown
> which makes administration difficult if you want to get really the best out of
> waht you paid for. In an ideal world, I would like to have that replaced every
> 5 years: old kit out, new kit in. In the real world, I got to run the kit
> until it falls apart and hope that the Principal Investigator, i.e. the owner
> of the cluster, got some money to replace the old/broken nodes. Hence the
> questions so I can build up a good case to change there.
> I hope that makes sense to you.
> All the best from a overcast London!
> Jörg
> --
> *************************************************************
> Dr. Jörg Saßmannshausen, MRSC
> University College London
> Department of Chemistry
> Gordon Street
> London
> WC1H 0AJ
> email: j.sassmannshausen at ucl.ac.uk
> web: http://sassy.formativ.net
> Please avoid sending me Word or PowerPoint attachments.
> See http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/no-word-attachments.html
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