CPUs for a Beowulf

Robert Kane rkane at scs.carleton.ca
Mon Sep 8 09:58:25 EDT 2003

Good morning,

  If anyone doesn't mind, may I ask a few questions. When given a
specific application for which a cluster is being built it should be
relatively simple to look are the requirements of the problem and the
available hardware, and then determine which hardware solution is best
for the problem. However, if the cluster is being built as a general
purpose cluster for research, things become a bit more difficult, as (as
I far as I can tell) there is no one answer. But, if anyone has any
insight into the following problems it would be greatly appreciated.

1. Single versus Dual CPUs?

  Both of these choices have their pros and cons and are each best
suited for different types of problems. Given that the cluster will be
used for a variety of problems, is there one which would be a better
choice? Is there a particular configuration for which the majority of
problems will run better? Is there a solution that on average provides
more performance per dollar?

2. CPU Type

  Intel and AMD's new 64-bit processors are finally beginning to become
more common it appears. And from what I've seen the benchmarks are
rather impressive. However, there seems to be a significant price
increase going from previous generation chips (ie Xeon) to the new
64-bit chips. In general is the increased performance worth the money
invested, or would a larger number of slower chips be effective
cost/performance wise? Apart from the increased electricial, A/C costs
of course.

Thank you for any information concerning these issues, whether
information be answers or links to good resources,

Robert Kane
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