[Beowulf] Practicality of a Beowulf Cluster
hahn at mcmaster.ca
Fri Aug 28 10:57:26 EDT 2009
> So, I was thinking of making a cluster, but wondered: what are the
> practical uses of one?
I don't think you really mean practical here. perhaps "commonplace"?
> I mean, you can't exactly run Windows on these
but why do you equate practical with "runs windows"? a lot of the
wider computer world doesn't run windows. windows is mainly
a low-end desktop, low-end server ghetto. large, yes, but not the
best (or most "practical") by any measure.
> and it looks like they're mostly for parallel computing of
> complex algorithms.
do you mean parallel/complex makes beowulf of limited interest or niche?
> Would an average Joe like me have a use for a cluster?
do you use any websites? any search engines? beowulf and related
technologies are all about scaling, so in a sense, anything big is
a beowulf. some may complain that this stretches the term, that
"grid" or "cloud" should be used instead, but it's all the same concept.
a beowulf is a cluster, normally of x86 commodity parts, normally for
compute-intensive research/engineering. a render farm is basically
the same but oriented towards making movies (IO intensive, but more
"embarassingly" parallel.) a grid means a cluster that's geographically
distributed and including multiple administrative domains (hence not
suitable for tightly-coupled parallelism.) a cloud is a grid-like
facility usually implemented on top of VMs.
google/amazon/yahoo/etc are all, in this sense, beowulf-like clusters.
windows-based beowulf-like clusters are still beowulf-like - they're just
knock-offs using a less appropriate OS. programs on clusters tend not
to be all that dependent on the "underware" (vs middleware) of the platform.
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