[Beowulf] Anybody using Redhat HPC Solution in their Beowulf
Ellis H. Wilson III
ellis at runnersroll.com
Tue Oct 26 12:09:12 EDT 2010
On 10/26/10 04:16, Hearns, John wrote:
> I have worked as an engineer for two HPC companies - Clustervision and
> My slogan phrase on this issue is "Any fool can go down PC World and buy
> a bunch of PCs"
Well if you are buying PCs in bulk at retail pricing, you are a fool
anyway. Plus most PC World PCs won't have ECC RAM so I wasn't really
referring to those as few of us tolerate random bit flips.
> However, as regards price, I would say that actually you will be paying
> very, very little premium
> for getting a supported, tested and pre-assembled cluster from a vendor.
> Academic margins are razor thin - the companies are not growing fat over
> academic deals.
> They also can get special pricing from Intel/AMD if the project can be
> justified - probably ending
> up at a price per box near to what you pay at PC World.
Again, not comparing PC World to Tier 1 bulk purchases. I'm comparing
Tier 1 bulk purchases w/o an OS (so you can DIY) with specialized HPC
vendor purchases where you don't have to DIY. Even then, perhaps it
breaks even the first year if you get a very, very good deal from the
HPC vendor. However, to get the deal you are probably contracted into
four or five years of support and when considering HPC, involving more
humans are the fastest way to get a really inefficient and expensive
cluster. After the first year and up until the lifetime of the cluster
involving human support annually will add a large cost overhead you have
to account for at the beginning (and probably buy less hardware because
> Or take (say) rack top switches. Do you want to have a situation where
> the company which supports your cluster
> has switches sitting on a shelf, so when a switch fails someone (me!) is
> sent out the next morning to deliver
> a new switch in a box, cable it in and get you running?
That's probably a hell of a lot faster than waiting on a vendor to get
you a new switch through some RMA process. Plus you know the cabling is
done right :).
Optimally IMHO, in university setups physical scientists create the need
for HPC. These types shouldn't (as Kilian mentions) need to inherit all
of the responsibilities and overheads of cluster management to use one
(or pay cluster vendors annually for support). They should simply walk
over to the CS department, find system guys (who would probably drool
over the potential of administering a reasonably sized cluster) and work
out an agreement where the physical science types can "just use it" and
the systems/CS guys administer it and can once in a while trace
workloads, test new load balancing mechanisms, try different kernel
settings for performance, etc. This way the physical scientists get
their work done on a well supported HPC system for no extra cash and
computer scientists get great, non-toy traces and workloads to further
their own research. Both parties win.
Now in organizations that don't have a CS department I agree that HPC
vendors are the way to go.
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