[Beowulf] First cluster in 20 years - questions about today

Mark Kosmowski mark.kosmowski at gmail.com
Sat Feb 1 19:21:09 PST 2020

I've been out of computation for about 20 years since my master degree.
I'm getting into the game again as a private individual.  When I was active
Opteron was just launched - I was an early adopter of amd64 because I
needed the RAM (maybe more accurately I needed to thoroughly thrash my swap
drives).  I never needed any cluster management software with my 3 node,
dual socket, single core little baby Beowulf.  (My planned domain is
computational chemistry and I'm hoping to get to a point where I can do ab
initio catalyst surface reaction modeling of small molecules (not

I'm planning to add a few nodes and it will end up being fairly
heterogenous.  My initial plan is to add two or three multi-socket,
multi-core nodes as well as a 48 port gigabit switch.  How should I assess
whether to have one big heterogenous cluster vs. two smaller
quasi-homogenous clusters?

Will it be worthwhile to learn a cluster management software?  If so,

Should I consider Solaris or illumos?  I do plan on using ZFS, especially
for the data node, but I want as much redundancy as I can get, since I'm
going to be using used hardware.  Will the fancy Solaris cluster tools be

Also, once I get running, while I'm getting current with theory and
software may I inquire here about taking on a small, low priority academic
project to make sure the cluster side is working good?

Thank you all for still being here!
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