cluster using handhelds
James.P.Lux at jpl.nasa.gov
Wed Sep 10 18:29:36 EDT 2003
At 04:48 PM 9/10/2003 -0500, you wrote:
>On Wed, 10 Sep 2003, Jim Lux wrote:
> > Has anyone tried building a cluster using handheld computers (i.e. iPaq or
> > Palm type) that use wireless LAN (802.11) or IR for the interconnect? Is
> > there an implementation of MPI that will work in that environment (WinCE,
> > PalmOS) (perhaps MPICH in some form?)
> > Yes, I know the performance will be hideous.
>Ok, I can not help but to comment.
>Once upon a time, just for S&G's, we spec'ed out a T-FLOP cluster out of
>PalmPilots. Assuming no space for wiring, we figgured we could fit
>about 144 of my Palms into a cubic foot.
>Crammed floor to ceiling, had our building had 1,500 stories, it would
>have almost held the thing.
>Sorry for my silliness, but i still find it funny.
You may laugh, but consider a structure that looks like a floppy ball some
100 meters in radius with sensing elements scattered every 10-20 cm across
the surface, each with it's own processor that needs to talk to some (but
not all) of the other elements to make the measurements. Perhaps not
TFLOPS, but a huge pile of small processors, nonetheless.
Now consider that before anybody would give you the tens of millions of
dollars required to actually build such a thing, they'd want to see some
sort of credible demonstration that it's feasible to do the work with
processors of limited capability, but, yet, still general purpose and
Further, one probably doesn't want to spend a huge amount of time designing
processor nodes, but wants to buy something off the shelf, preferably
consumer mass market. One would also prefer something where the internal
architecture is published and understandable so that one could make
credible estimates of what that fancy custom element is going to need.
Hence the question about clusters of handhelds:
handhelds are consumer mass market and cheap
linux on a handheld is "open and visible" as far as internals go
WinCE might be (depending on licensing, etc. It's been a long time since I
was an "embedded windows" (forerunner to WinCE) developer)
802.11 is a wireless comm scheme with known properties. The eventual
system would probably use something else (Snaggletooth, Forkbeard
(Bluetooth's son), Zigbee (802.15.4), CCSDS proximity link, or whatever)
MPI because I'm lazy, and I already know how to use MPI for stuff.
By the way, handhelds that can talk to a cmos/ccd camera and grab frames on
demand would be even better.
>rocky at atipatechnologies.com
>rmcgaugh at atipa.com
>perl -e 'print unpack(u, ".=W=W+F%T:7\!A+F-O;0H`");'
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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