This Section is for the roll up your sleeves kind of person. If you like to try things for yourself, this category is for you.

Can Doug break the record he and Jeff set previously? Can he overcome the chains of reality? Inquiring minds want to know?

Cluster optimization is often considered an art form. In some cases it is less art and more like flipping a coin. A previous article described the Kronos value cluster and its record breaking price-to-performance results. Can an investment of time and effort break this record or have we hit the cluster wall?

Getting the most out of your cluster is always important. But how does one do this? Do you really need to dissect your code and analyze every instruction to get optimal performance? By testing basic assumptions, the authors were able to improve the performance of an eight node cluster, getting the equivalent of three extra nodes, at no additional cost.

Need a cluster? Read this first!

Writing a technical RFP (Request for Proposal) for a cluster is not something to be taken lightly. There are many options available for clusters that must be researched and addressed before writing the technical RFP. Moreover, there are things one can put into a technical RFP that can help discriminate between vendors and help make your decision process easier (or at least make things clearer). To help with your procurement, there is an RFP outline/template provided at the end of the article.

This article was originally a synopsis of a tutorial given at the 2003 ClusterWorld Conference and Expo on how to write a technical cluster RFP. However, it has been expanded and edited to discuss some topics more in depth and to add topics that weren't discussed before.

In this installment, the value cluster is given tools that do the heavy lifting. Both an LAM/MPI and SGE (Sun Grid Engine) will be installed and tested. Other nifty tools will be discussed as well.

In the last part of our story, we were about to name the key witness in the, no wait, wrong story. We talked about installing Warewulf on the master node and then booting the compute nodes. At the end of the article we were able to boot all of the nodes and run wwtop to see that the nodes were alive and breathing.

While the cluster was up and running, it didn't have all of the "fun" toys yet. In particular, we wanted to run the Top500 benchmark (HPL) and see where we placed on the list (for the serious readers that is joke). Before we do that, however, we need more software installed and more importantly we need to know if everything is working correctly.

Get ready. Software will get installed, configuration files will get edited, nodes will boot, lights will blink, messages will get passed, and we will have a cluster. Joy.

If you are following along from part one of this series, you should be chomping at the bit to get some software on the cluster. Not to worry, in this installment will get those switch lights blinking. The entire cluster measures, 40 inches (102 cm) high, 24 inches (61 cm) wide, 18 inches (46 cm) deep and is shown in Figure One Below. (See part one for more and bigger pictures). It is also quite mobile (check out the wheels!). There is a single power cord and room on top of the rack to place a monitor and keyboard (only if needed). The DVD reader/burner can accommodate vertical loading as well.


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