[Beowulf] A couple of interesting comments
dag at sonsorol.org
Fri Jun 6 12:15:24 EDT 2008
Bad job hiding the (obvious) vendor ;)
I'm riding the bus back home to Boston after a cluster building gig
and your experience exactly matches what I encountered when I walked
into the datacenter to start work on a pile of dell 1950 servers.
I'll do you one better - 4 nodes out of our "homogenous" cluster had
reversed drive cabling which broke our imaging system as we had
specific data to place on 2 drives of differing capacity.
/* Sent via phone - apologies for typos & terseness */
On Jun 6, 2008, at 11:39 AM, Gerry Creager <gerry.creager at tamu.edu>
> We recently purchased a set of hardware for a cluster from a
> hardware vendor. We've encountered a couple of interesting issues
> with bringing the thing up that I'd like to get group comments on.
> Note that the RFP and negotiations specified this system was for a
> cluster installation, so there would be no misunderstanding...
> 1. We specified "No OS" in the purchase so that we could install
> CentOS as our base. We got a set of systems with a stub OS, and an
> EULA for the diagnostics embedded on the disk. After clicking thru
> the EULA, it tells us we have no OS on the disk, but does not fail
> to PXE.
> 2. BIOS had a couple of interesting defaults, including warn on
> keyboard error (Keyboard? Not intentionally. This is a compute
> node, and should never require a keyboard. Ever.) We also find the
> BIOS is set to boot from hard disk THEN PXE. But due to item 1,
> above, we never can fail over to PXE unless we load up a keyboard
> and monitor, and hit F12 to drop to PXE.
> In discussions with our sales rep, I'm told that we'd have had to
> pay extra to get a real bare hard disk, and that, for a fee, they'd
> have been willing to custom-configure the BIOS. OK, with the BIOS
> this isn't too unreasonable: They have a standard BIOS for all
> systems and if you want something special, paying for it's the
> norm... But, still, this is a CLUSTER installation we were quoted,
> not a desktop.
> Also, I'm now told that "almost every customer" ordered their
> cluster configuration service at several kilobucks per rack. Since
> the team I'm working with has some degree of experience in
> configuring and installing hardware and software on computational
> clusters, now measured in at least 10 separate cluster
> installations, this seemed like an unnecessary expense. However,
> we're finding vendor gotchas that are annoying at the least, and
> sometimes cause significant work-around time/effort.
> Finally, our sales guy yesterday was somewhat baffled as to why we'd
> ordered without OS, and further why we were using Linux over Windows
> for HPC. Not trying to revive the recent rant-fest about Windows
> HPC capabilities, can anyone cite real HPC applications generally
> run on significant clusters (I'll accept Cornell's work, although I
> remain personally convinced that the bulk of their Windows HPC work
> has been dedicated to maintaining grant funding rather than doing
> real work)?
> No, I won't identify the vendor.
> Gerry Creager -- gerry.creager at tamu.edu
> Texas Mesonet -- AATLT, Texas A&M University
> Cell: 979.229.5301 Office: 979.862.3982 FAX: 979.862.3983
> Office: 1700 Research Parkway Ste 160, TAMU, College Station, TX 77843
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