[Beowulf] Windows cluster
landman at scalableinformatics.com
Thu Sep 8 13:25:55 EDT 2005
> We have just taken deliver of a windows cluster.
Interesting. We don't see too many of these.
> Master node connected to network and 8 64bit Xeon nodes on private cluster
> While the system will be used to develop and run parallel programs,
> Fluent...., one of the primary reasons for setting up the system is to
> assist academics with low power systems on their desktop to run pacakages
> such as Matlab, Mathematica, SAS ...
For parallel application development, you are going to need some sort of
MPI setup. You have a number of choices. Most of them will cost you
money. On the linux side you also have choices (more of them in fact),
and they won't require money unless you want the support that goes along
Under windows, I have been able to get mpich 1.2.6 to compile under
Cygwin (though it was not trivial). It works as long as I pretend my
single machine has N CPUs ... (e.g. you cannot easily run an rsh/ssh
daemon on the machine for p4 style ethernet connections using MPICH).
From a bigger picture perspective, windows may not be the right choice
for this sort of system, unless there is an absolute dependency upon an
application which will only run on windows. We haven't seen too many of
those in the HPC world. It is much easier (IMO) to provision and manage
a Linux or similar system for HPC than it is a windows system, not
simply from the GUI vs command line view, but from the sheer number of
things you have to turn off on the windows box in order to make it
safe/secure for cluster computing. Aside from that, having a per
access/per node virus checker/filter running while your application is
running is a really sure way to waste processing cycles better spent on
> In Linux clsuters the appliactions are held in one area. Does each node of a
> windows cluster need to have a copy of each application?
This is a general "best practice". Saves you lots of pain. I might
consider creating an \\headnode\apps share that the internal network can
see. Of course, when you install applications on windows, they happily
put stuff where-ever they want, and take your install directory as a
mere suggestion (massive hint to anyone at MSFT who may be listening),
while populating your registry ... At best it is a gamble as to whether
or not this will work under windows.
> How doe users access each node - terminal services?
Ok... windows has a *very* different view of the universe as compared to
Linux. In this view of the universe, everything that is a daemon in
Linux should be a "service" in Windows. Unless every node is running
terminal services, you would want them running from the head node. This
has lots of (nasty) implications for how a cluster is used. You could
try to run an rsh/login/ssh daemon on every node. This is non-trivial.
MPI (the pay-money versions) under windows sets up a service for job
launch. I don't know what the restrictions on this are, depends upon
which one you buy.
> Would be interested in access to a 'dummies' guide to establishing a windows
You should contact the Cornell Theory Center folks. They have (one of
the very few) windows clusters around, and lots of experiences
running/building/managing them. If you must stick with windows, I would
suggest you look at that route. If you have the freedom to use Linux on
the cluster, there are many *trivial* to setup cluster installations,
such as Rocks, Warewulf, and a few others like Oscar.
By combining a number of Linux based technologies together with windows
clients, we have cusotmers happily using/managing their linux clusters
from their windows desktops without knowing a thing about linux. This
appears to be an operational direction for a number of groups.
> Ricky Rankin
> Principal Analyst
> Information Services
> Queen's University Belfast
> Tel: 02890 974824
> Fax: 02890 335073
> email: r.rankin at qub.ac.uk
> Beowulf mailing list, Beowulf at beowulf.org
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Joseph Landman, Ph.D
Founder and CEO
Scalable Informatics LLC,
email: landman at scalableinformatics.com
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