[Beowulf] Small form computers as cluster nodes - any comments about the Shuttle brand ?

Joe Landman landman at scalableinformatics.com
Sat Aug 8 12:51:58 EDT 2009


David Ramirez wrote:
> Due to space constraints I am considering implementing a 8-node (+ 
> master) HPC cluster project using small form computers. Knowing that 
> Shuttle is a reputable brand, with several years in the market, I wonder 
> if any of you out there has already used them on clusters and how has 
> been your experience (performance, reliability etc.)

The down sides (from watching others do this)

1) no ECC ram.  You will get bit-flips.  ECC protects you (to a degree) 
against some bit-flippage.  If you can get ECC memory (and turn on the 
ECC support in BIOS), by all means, do so.

2) power.  One customer from a while ago did this, and found that the 
power supplies on the units were not able to supply a machine running 
the processor and memory (and disk/network etc) at nearly full load for 
many hours.  You have to make sure your entire computing infrastructure 
(in the box) fits in *under* the power budget from the supply.  This may 
be easier these days using "gamer" rigs which have power to handle GPU 
cards, but keep this in mind anyway.

3) networks.  Sadly, the NICs on the hobby machines aren't usually up to 
the level of quality on the server systems.  You might not get PXE 
capability (though these days, I haven't seen many boards without it).

Just evaluate your options carefully with the specs in hand.  You will 
have design tradeoffs due to the space constraint, just keep in mind 
your goals as you evaluate them.

Joe

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Joseph Landman, Ph.D
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Scalable Informatics, Inc.
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