Clusters Vs Grids

Kim Branson Kim.Branson at
Tue Jul 22 04:18:20 EDT 2003

> my users are dramatically bifurcated into two sets: those who want
> 1K CPUs with 2GB/CPU and >500 MB/s, <5 us interconnect, versus those
> who want 100 CPUs with 200KB apiece and 10bT.  the latter could be 
> using a grid; it's a lot easier for them to grab a piece of the 
> cluster pie, though.  I wonder whether that's the fate of grids 
> in general: not worth the trouble of setting up, except in extreme
> cases (seti at home, etc).

Grids are great for my purposes, virtual screening of large chemical databases. We have lots of small independent jobs, some work 
i have done with the use of grids for virtual screening ( using the molecular docking program DOCK ) can be found at
there are links to some publications off the site. This work was very much a test to see how grids and scheduling would perform. To my suprise i got better performance
from my small local 64 node 1ghz athlon cluster than i did for the grid for most calculations. The use of the machines we were soaking time on and the time taken to
run and return the calculations means the dedicated cluster is a better option. For very large datasets the grid does begin to win out, but it is dependent on the load on the grid machines. 

If you have no local resources a grid is a good option for these caclculations but a large dedicated machine is better for small jobs.  The lack of data security means most of our data cannot be dispersed on a grid, and this is perhaps another point to consider when evaluating the usefullness of grids. Would you be happy if someone else could acess your calculation results and inputs? our powers  that be certainly don't. 




Dr Kim Branson
Computational Drug Design
Structural Biology
CSIRO Health Sciences and Nutrition
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute
Royal Parade, Parkville, Melbourne, Victoria
Ph 61 03 9662 7136
Email kbranson at


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