[Beowulf] A press release

Lyle Bickley lbickley at bickleywest.com
Thu Jul 10 17:54:37 EDT 2008

On Thursday 10 July 2008, Lombard, David N wrote:
> On Thu, Jul 10, 2008 at 10:50:03AM -0700, Jim Lux wrote:
> > in classic /. form, should we not now interject:
> >
> > What about a beowulf cluster of PDP-8s (or -1s or IBM 1130s or...)?
> Hmmm, don't know about the PDPs, but there aren't a lot of working 1130's
> about.  ibm1130.org has one, along with cards, disk cartridges, docs, &etc.
> They also have a simulator that permits you to run R2 V12!  Brings back
> memories...  Too bad they can't find the EMU-Fortran.

There are quite a few PDP-8s around. I have a PDP-8/E, PDP-8/F and two PDP-8 
compatible Decmates - all are operational. There are even more 
PDP-11s "about". I've got a PDP 11/34C, 11/85, several 11/23s an LSI-11 and a 
MINC 11/23 (laboratory computer) - all operational. Typical peripherals: 9 
track tape, RX02 8" floppies, RL01/2 Cartridge Drives (5MB+10MB), etc

> As for a cluster of 1130 simulators; IIRC, the only networking they had
> was in support of the RJE station. Perhaps you could run an EP code with
> a 360 as the headnode :p

As to clustering... Latency would be a "bit" of a problem. PDP-8s only support 
serial and synchronous "networks". 9600 baud won't quite make it as a high 
performance cluster infrastructure ;-)

PDP-11s do have 10Base Ethernet. But running TCP/IP on a PDP-11 is incredibly 
slow (even if running BSD Unix). It take just about everything the processor 
has just to push the packets out. So one could create a true ethernet cluster 
infrastructure - but there wouldn't be much processor power left over to do 

So as much as I love these old beasties, they just don't make great clusters, 

On the other hand, VAXes just might :-)

Lyle Bickley
Bickley Consulting West Inc.
Mountain View, CA 94040

"Black holes are where God is dividing by zero"
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