Small PCs cluster

Gerry Creager N5JXS gerry.creager at
Fri Jul 4 13:29:16 EDT 2003

Relatively speaking the Shuttle cases, while small for a P4 or Athelon 
processor class machine, are pretty big compared to the Mini-ITX 
systems.  However, the heat-pipes seem to do a pretty good job of 
off-loading heat and making the heat-exchanger available to ambient air.

I've not built a cluster so far using this sort of case, but I've got a 
lot of past heat-pipe experience.  I'd be tring to maintain a low inlet 
temperature to the rack, and a fairly high, and (uncharacteristically) 
non-laminar airflow through the rack.  The idea is to get as much 
airflow incident to the heat-pipe heat exchanger as possible.

We did a fair bit of heat-pipe work while I was at NASA.  We found cood 
radiative characteristics in heat-pipe heat exchangers (the heat-pipes 
wouldn't have worked otherwise!) but they work best when they combine 
both convective and radiative modes and use a cool-air transport.

I've got a number of isolated small-form-factor PCs now running.  I've 
seen no instability with the integrated components in any of these.


Daniel Fernandez wrote:
> Hi there,
> I just started how to mantain a cluster, I mean monitoring
> activity/temperature, finding/replacing damaged components and user
> control. Recently we are planning here to add more nodes... but there's
> a great problem, space. 
> So we bought recently a Small Form Factor PC to test it, It's a Shuttle
> SN41G2 equipped with a nForce2 chipset, It was a bit tricky at install
> process because our older PCs were equipped with 3Com cards and
> installed via BOOTP but that damn nVidia integrated ethernet only boots
> via PXE, well, that's relatively easy to solve. And after installing
> nVidia drivers seemed to work flawlessly.
> It's obvious that we'll gain space but on the other hand heat
> dissipation will be more difficult because will be more dissipated watts
> per cubic-meter, that small PC case has a nice Heat-pipe for cooling the
> main cpu though.
> ¿ Are there experiences ( successful or not ) about installing and
> managing clusters with Small Form Factor PCs ? I'm not talking only
> about heat but instability problems with integrated ethernet ( under
> high activity ) as well.

Gerry Creager -- gerry.creager at
Network Engineering -- AATLT, Texas A&M University	
Cell: 979.229.5301 Office: 979.458.4020 FAX: 979.847.8578
Page: 979.228.0173
Office: 903A Eller Bldg, TAMU, College Station, TX 77843

Beowulf mailing list, Beowulf at
To change your subscription (digest mode or unsubscribe) visit

More information about the Beowulf mailing list