SBC and beowulf

Pedro Díaz Jiménez pdiaz88 at terra.es
Mon Jul 16 15:19:21 EDT 2001


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On Monday 16 July 2001 16:25, Chris Black wrote:
> On Sat, Jul 14, 2001 at 04:08:35PM +0000, Pedro Díaz Jiménez wrote:
> > Hi Beowulf people,
> >
> > Does anyone here has had experiences with SBC (single board computer)
> > beowulfs?. I find it a very interesting topic in cluster building
> > techniques,
>
> [stuff deleted]
>
> > If anyone has had that experiences I will greatly apreciate that he/she
> > could answer some questions I have in mind. I'm mainly interested in
> > cost-efective (probably x86) SBC with PCI interface (if feel that VME is
> > a little offtopic for a beowulf,isn't it?). The main questions I have
> > are:
>
> [questions deleted]
>
standard disclaimer: Newbie to SBC clusters. I've been investigating for a 
while, but since I've never played with such clusters, all my opinions are 
speculative

> The main questions *I* would have about SBC clusters are:
> 1) Would it be cost effective?
> It seems that SBCs are more expensive for the same amount of
> CPU power and memory than rackmount nodes with standard motherboards.
>
For what I've seen, It depends heavily on the configuration you choose. Some 
sparc and mips models are actualy cheaper than a sun/sgi/whatever 
rackmountable server. On the x86 field, The cheapest SBC I've seen is a 175 
pounds Pentium III from SpireTech (http://www.spire.co.uk)

here : http://planetcluster.org/links.php?op=viewslink&sid=30
are links to others SBC vendors I've found 



The SBC market seems to be oriented to the embedded/industrial world (not a 
surprise). Almost all SBC models I've seen are low MHZ RISC CPUs aimed to 
replace microcontrolers in areas where a little more of computational power 
is needed. I've seen a few vendors selling high performance SBC for 
scientific work and advanced electronics (weapons and that stuff) and some of 
those vendors offer CompactPCI interfaces as well as the omnipresent VME 


> 2) What would be the benefit?
> I assume it would be space/power/cooling?
>
Mainly, thats my opinion. And the posibility to expand/upgrade a cluster
in a space-limited place. 

Here are more benefits/applications (my opinion):
a) High Availability: The SBC monitors the hardware/software state of the 
host computer. Since it is an autonomous computer It can take the control 
in a host computer hardware/software failure as long as the PCI power lines 
doesn't fail

b) Dedicated hardware: Much in the way that DSP multiprocessors work, which 
would let the host CPU to work on other tasks or simply maintain the OS. Is 
it possible an SBC-HOST communication across the PCI bus?



 
Cheers
Pedro
> Chris

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  __________________________________________________
 /                                                  \
 | Pedro Diaz Jimenez                               |
 |                                                  |
 | pdiaz88 at terra.es      pdiaz at acm.asoc.fi.upm.es   |
 |                                                  |
 |                                                  |
 | http://planetcluster.org                         |
 | Clustering & H.P.C. news and documentation       |
 |                                                  |
 | There are no stupid questions, but there's a lot |
 | of inquisitve idiots                             |
 |        Anonymous                                 |
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