[Beowulf] recommendations on ARM distro?

C Bergström cbergstrom at pathscale.com
Sun May 15 21:14:35 PDT 2016

Sorry for the top post
Without knowing exactly what the OP's problem with LDAP, I'm not sure
I'd be so hasty as blame the whole ARM(v8) community just yet.
Overall, I think significant progress on getting "software" working
has been made, at least in terms of open source projects. At this
point I think it's more like bug fix + optimization phase.

Talking in specifics from a low level - the Advantage that ARMv8* has
over x86 is simple, beautiful ISA. (From a compiler/arch perspective)
I imagine this clean slate start will also allow ARM and implementors
to do more efficient designs. Future vector extensions will hopefully
help HPC workloads and then "we're" off to the races.

I doubt Intel is "distracted" with anything to the point of neglecting
an important market.. The biggest competitive advantage they have is a
unified fab+design process. That seems to keep them ahead and quite
competitive in the desktop to server space. Mobile hides these details
behind many layers and you simply pay less for something which taped
out at 45nm and battery doesn't last as long. (It's also easier to
make a design which is "efficient" at 800Mhz vs the 3-4Ghz range that
x86 is pushing when boosted)

If you look at things historically, the cost of early prototype and
development boards has never been less for emerging platforms. The
fact it's not in the "budget" price range only delays hobbyists from
having fun.

On Mon, May 16, 2016 at 7:47 AM, Gerald Henriksen <ghenriks at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Mon, 16 May 2016 00:27:21 +0800, you wrote:
>>Very nice reply Gerald, not meaning to nit, but for certain workloads
>>I'd emphasize that accelerators make more sense than Intel.
> Yes, and more below.
>>Power and ARM have some uphill battles ahead of them, but I'm
>>optimistic that in the next 2-4 years we're going to see Intel go
>>against increasingly interesting products.
> The good news for Power and ARM is that Intel is in a little bit of
> disarray, and while their new emphasis on Server and IoT is likely a
> good thing it both depends on what they mean by that and how much of a
> disruption the layoffs cause amongs the employees that stay.
> The big advantage the ARM could have is the ability of someone to come
> along and take the open design of ARM and create some unique hardware.
> Quite unlikely, but how about a SoC designed for accelerators, with
> say Infiniband in the SoC and support for say 5 accelerators on one
> motherboard?
> But, to get back to the question that started this thread, the biggest
> problem that both Power and ARM have is getting the software working
> correctly.  It is clearly unacceptable that getting something as basic
> as LDAP working is a time consuming, trial and error task.
> In my likely flawed view neither ARM nor Power will escape from their
> current niche markets until they get "affordable" hardware to the
> public.
> The number of programming languages currently in use, the number of
> frameworks, the number of applications available is simply beyond the
> ability at this point of any distribution, Linux or *bsd, to test
> everything.  Instead it is at best a if it compiles, it ships, with
> only the core portions of the distribution getting any testing, and
> then really only on the hardware that anyone has access to.
> If Power had a motherboard/CPU combination in the $300 to $500 range,
> and ARM in the $200 range, then all the people who work on the open
> source software would be able to at least consider getting a second
> system to play with, to test their software on, etc. and as a result
> fix things or at least file bugs.  But as long as Power systems are
> into the thousands of dollars, and ARM (or more specifically one of
> their partners) is offering a 2, almost 3 year old CPU that is one to
> two generations old and the unrealistic price of $300 (*) that aren't
> going to get the public to buy their hardware, and thus they won't get
> the testing/developing/etc of the software ecosystem.
> It's a shame, because while I couldn't afford even my optimistically
> priced examples, I think we do need a competitor to Intel to keep
> things moving, but I just don't see that Power really wants to be that
> and ARM is simply failing to execute.
> * the cheapest price announced for an AArch64 board with proper
> hardware (ie. RAM slots, SATA support, UEFI boot system) is $300 and
> offers an AMD A1100 SoC that was announced just over 2 years ago. This
> board is not yet shipping, and the reviews from January indicate that
> the A1100 isn't really competitive (in performance/power
> consumption/price) against Intel Atom offerings.
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