[Beowulf] FW: $2500 cluster. What it's good for?

Alex Vrenios alex at dsrlab.com
Sat Dec 18 12:04:26 EST 2004


Hi,

The SETI at home group could use some extra cycles, and I understand that the
AIDS research people have a similar approach. The question now becomes: "How
do I run a Win screen saver on my cluster?

Speaking of "value clusters" my 8-node Compaq DeskPro 386 cluster cost me
just under $2000 back in 1995. It runs Linux Red Hat 4.2 because nothing
more recent would fit on a 30 MB hard drive!

I am looking into a project for it. Running MOSIX might be fun and I would
love to parallelize the SETI code - any thoughts? The only math reference I
could find is 

   Papagiannis, "The Search for Extraterrestrial Life: Recent
   Developments," Int'l Astro Union, Symp #112.

Dr. Alex in Phoenix

> -----Original Message-----
> From: beowulf-bounces at beowulf.org 
> [mailto:beowulf-bounces at beowulf.org] On Behalf Of Jim Lux
> Sent: Saturday, December 18, 2004 8:53 AM
> To: beowulf at beowulf.org
> Subject: [SPAM] [Beowulf] $2500 cluster. What it's good for?
> 
> I think it would be interesting to contemplate potential uses 
> of a $2500 cluster.  Once you've had the thrill of putting it 
> together and rendering something with POVray, what next?
> 
> You want to avoid the "gosh, I can run 8 times as many 
> Seti at Home units as I could before" or "Look, I can calculate 
> Pi" kind of not-particularly-value-laden-to-the-casual-observer tasks.
> 
> Sure, there's some value in learning how to build and manage 
> a cluster, but I think the real value is in doing something 
> useful with that $2500.  So, what sort of "useful" could one 
> do? Say you were to negotiate with your spouse to get $2500 
> to play with (or you were able to get a "mini-grant" at a 
> high school).  Is there something that is useful to the 
> "general consumer public" that could be done better with a 
> cluster than with a $2500 desktop machine?
> 
> One computationally intensive task that might be applicable 
> is making panoramas from multiple digital photos.  It's 
> incredibly tedious and time consuming to stitch together 30 
> or 40 digital photos into one seamless panorama (google for 
> PanoTools and PTGui for ideas).
> 
> What about kids in school? Is there some simulation that, if 
> clusterized, would be more interactive and useful?
> 
> What about interactive rendering from one of NASA's world 
> view databases:
> layering the terrain models and imagery to do "fly bys"?
> 
> Are there consumer type iterative optimization problems that 
> could profit from a cluster?  In my own fooling around, I do 
> lots of antenna simulations, which are essentially 
> embarassingly parallel.  The ham radio community likes 
> "scrounged and homebuilt" solutions to problems, so the $2500 
> cluster is a potential winner there.
> 
> What about outreach to poverty stricken branches of academe 
> who don't use computers much?  literary analysis searching 
> texts for common phrases?
> figuring out how to fit potsherds together?
> 
> Jim Lux
> 
> 
> 
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