beowulf in space
James.P.Lux at jpl.nasa.gov
Mon Apr 14 16:43:39 EDT 2003
The short answer is yes, it has been and is being considered, in several
forms. The interprocessor comm is not necessarily slower (very wideband
optical links are practical), but latency is an issue. However, there are
many space applications that can benefit from this sort of thing that
aren't particularly bandwidth or latency constrained.
While the scientists would generally like to have a big pipe to the ground
and just send raw data for later processing, there are situations where you
just can't send that much data back, and it has to be on-board processed in
Of course, inasmuch as part of Beowulfery is the idea of commodity off the
shelf computers being used, real Beowulfs in space aren't likely to come
any time soon, since almost NOTHING in space is a commodity part. It costs
so much to get it there, that the additional cost for a "custom" part is a
small fraction of the launch cost.
If you were to search back proceedings of the IEEE Aerospace Conference
(Big Sky MT), you'll find some papers on Beowulf type systems proposed for
space applications, and also some novel ideas for high bandwidth cluster
interconnects based on optical techniques.
As RGB pointed out, the design environment for space is somewhat
different.. power consumption and cooling (even if you have a reactor a'la
Prometheus) are signficant challenges, as is the radiation environment,
both in an single event and in a total dose.
At 11:59 AM 4/14/2003 -0700, chettri at gst.com wrote:
>Has anybody considered the theoretical aspects of placing beowulfs on a
>cluster of satellites? I understand that communication will be slower AND
>and it would restrict the set of problems that could be solved. I'm
>looking for papers/tech reps etc on the subject.
>Beowulf mailing list, Beowulf at beowulf.org
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James Lux, P.E.
Spacecraft Telecommunications Section
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Mail Stop 161-213
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena CA 91109
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