Beowulf Questions

Mark Hahn hahn at physics.mcmaster.ca
Sat Jan 4 13:19:40 EST 2003


> Personally, I don't think so, especially if we consider the
> fact that in the not-too-distant future, networking speeds
> will be up to snuff with the various tasks at hand. With these

ah!  I think this is the central fallacy that drives grid enthusiasm.

there simply is no coming breakthrough that will make all networking
fast, low-latency, cheap, ubiquitous and low-power.  and grid
(in the grand sense) really does require *all* those properties.
oh, you will certainly manage to do some very interesting things 
with wimpier networking, but with major compromises.  I don't see
people doing parallel weather sims over 803.11*-connected nodes 
any time soon.  but seti at home-type applications (very losely coupled
and coarse-grained) would be a fine way to keep my fridge's brain
busy.  on the other hand, a fridge will always be a tiny fraction
of the compute power of a desktop, so is it worth it?  not to mention
the fact that seti at fridge will jack up my monthly power bill...

ultrawideband is an interesting development for this kind of networking,
perhaps also in the optical range.  anyone interested in this stuff should
read Robert Forward and Vernor Vinge's books (FS novels).

ps: I don't mean grid stuff isn't worthwhile, or that we can't do 
any of it until the perfect network arrives.  there's lots of great 
work going on - p2p networking, java/jini/jxta, etc.  I just don't see
it being relevant to the beowulf world very soon, or ever being as 
grand as the starry-eyed gridophiliacs would like to predict...


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