Preliminary info on the Scyld Beowulf distribution

Donald Becker becker at scyld.com
Tue Oct 10 11:02:51 EDT 2000


On Tue, 10 Oct 2000, David Bremner wrote:

> Donald Becker writes:

>  > As many of you have guessed from the hints and list postings, Scyld has been
>  > working on the next-generation Beowulf system.
> 
> [ Cool features of beowulf v2 snipped ] 
> 
> The web site mentions "Custom distributions are available for Alpha".
> 
> I'm sure many of us on this list would be interested in knowing what
> level of alpha support exists. I.e., ranging from we have a cluster
> running and a cd ready to press, to we can spell alpha, and don't see
> why the software shouldn't run there :-)

We know everything about the alfa ;->

Internally we have a small Alpha cluster with EV6, EV5 and EV4(!) generation
machines, single processor and SMP systems.  As I've noted before, when the
weather turns cold there is much more interest in the Alpha.  Yesterday was
the coldest day since spring, and the Alpha systems got Lots of Love.  More
far more time was spent on Alpha-specific enhancements than anything else.

So, yes, the Beowulf-2 system for the Alpha is fully functional and is
updated regularly.

The problem with selling an Alpha AXP distribution is that there isn't just
one Alpha.  There are over a dozen significant Alpha motherboards, each of
which requires a unique kernel and booting scheme.  We would have to build
and test a distribution for each one to have a full product line.  We
estimate our internal cost to test each one is in the five figure range.
Worse, it takes almost a week of our best developers.

Instead we are doing custom Alpha distributions only.  A custom version
takes signifcantly less time, since we don't have to consider every hardware
and firmware combination that might occur.

Donald Becker				becker at scyld.com
Scyld Computing Corporation		http://www.scyld.com
410 Severn Ave. Suite 210		Second Generation Beowulf Clusters
Annapolis MD 21403			410-990-9993


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