[Beowulf] portable clusters

Andrew Fant fant at pobox.com
Mon Nov 28 15:09:16 EST 2005


Jim Lux wrote:
> But basically, yes, the idea is to minimize the number of boxes.. One, 
> the Windows laptop which talks to the hardware and feeds the cluster to 
> do the data analysis, the other, the cluster box (we're not talking 
> hundreds of nodes here.. probably more like 8-20)  The cluster box is 
> envisioned to have two wires: power and network, and is generically, the 
> size of a big breadbox or a suitcase(i.e. it would fit in the trunk of a 
> car or could be checked as luggage...)
> 
> Ideally, the cluster has NO permanent storage within it (i.e. if you 
> turn off the power, all inside is forgotten). Removable media could 
> potentially solve the problem, but then you've added a third thing to 
> carry around and potentially lose, as well as adding a connector that 
> has to be dealt with. Having it totally diskless helps with some 
> environmental requirements (you can drop it, shock it, or vibe it, and 
> it's easier to deal with the dust ingress problem)...
> 
> The goal here is to have a credible concept to improve the "system" 
> performance by adding on a computatational element to an existing 
> portable system that is Windows based without requiring any hardware 
> changes to the windows system, or without requiring significant software 
> mods to the windows system (i.e. running some new program is ok, running 
> a windows emulator is not).

I can't speak to how viable the use of windows as a head node is, but I 
do know that LANL had a paper in the last couple of Linux Journals about 
   building just such a beast, housed in a plastic toolbox.  They had 
one of their prototypes on display at SC2005.  They use a thinkpad as 
the head node on their systems.  You might want to check with them for 
more engineering details.

Andy

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