Guy Coates gmpc at sanger.ac.uk
Sun Oct 19 15:32:42 EDT 2003

> > Have you ever try or test RLX server for HPC?
> > What is their performance?
> .. what's their price/performance?

Well, it all depends.  The performance of the current generation of blade
systems are on a par with 1U systems, and you can now get chassis with
myrinet or SAN connectivity if you need it.

The part of price/performance that tends to get overlooked is
manageability. Do you factor in the time and salaries of you admin staff
who have to look after the thing?

We run clusters with blade servers from various manufacturers (including
RLX) and traditional 1U machines.  The management overhead on blade
systems is significantly lower than for 1U machines, and streets ahead of
"beige boxes on shelves".

On blade systems the network and SAN switching infrastructure is nicely
integrated with the server chassis, and their management interfaces tied in
with OS deployment, remove power management etc.

The difference in management overhead gets more pronounced as your cluster
size increases. The time it takes to look after a 24 node cluster of 1U
boxes isn't going to be that different to the time it takes to look after
24 blades, but running a 1000 blades is much less effort than running a
1000 1U servers.

Whether this actually matters or not depends on your circumstances.

If you have a limitless supply of PhD student slave labour, (eg Virginia
Tech and their G5s), then time and cost of management isn't so much of an
issue. If you have to pay money for your sys-admins and want to run big
clusters, then blades may end up being cost effective.


Guy Coates

Guy Coates,  Informatics System Group
The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Hinxton, Cambridge, CB10 1SA, UK
Tel: +44 (0)1223 834244 ex 7199

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