[Beowulf] Windows cluster
rsweet at aoes.nl
Mon Sep 12 06:40:38 EDT 2005
I have had a customer that desired a serious evaluation of Windows as an HPC
platform, because they had an in-house application that had been written on
Windows. We came up with a feasible design, that basically reduced the
administrative headaches etc to a minimum, and used a Linux box as the head
node with a web portal for job submission, etc, but still advised the customer
that it would probably cost them less to port the (relatively small)
application to Linux. Our design leveraged a lot of customisation of Windows
at a fairly low level, and while it was likely to be quite easy to maintain,
it was not suitable for implementation by an average Windows admin.
In the end the customer agreed and decided it made more sense to port the
application to Linux.
I would add my voice to the others to say that even if you don not have an
experienced Linux admin, it will probably be easier for you to build and run a
Linux cluster alongside your windows domain than to build an actually
efficient Windows based HPC system.
However, if you are stuck with Win32, there is a Microsoft initiative centred
around HPC, which is in beta:
It includes and SDK, MPI, and a resource manager, though I have not tried them
directly. Microsoft was giving demos at ISC2005, and the reps there hinted
about providing significant assitance for early adopters. If you are serious
about running a cluster with a Win32 OS, you should probably check it out.
Keep in mind that as with Linux HPC, you will want to strip Windows to the
bare minimum services necessary to run the OS, your resource manager, and your
Windows by default starts a huge heap of services that do not make sense at
all in a pure HPC environment.
Make sure the thing is firewalled (not just nat'd) in both
direction, and insist that you maintain tight control over which executables
you allow to be run on the cluster.
Regarding MPI, in addition to the commercial MPIs, LAM-MPI should build on
Cygwin, though I'm not sure what sort of performance you could expect in
comparison to Linux on the same hardware.
Ryan Sweet <ryan.sweet at aoes.com>
Advanced Operations and Engineering Services
AOES Group BV http://www.aoes.com
Phone +31(0)71 5795521 Fax +31(0)71572 1277
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