[Beowulf] Recommendations for new cluster

Rich Pickler rpickler at dnahelix.com
Mon Jan 12 19:35:35 EST 2004

>(Since you are in this graphics industry, can you tell
>me if Framestore is big? People on the sge list looked
>so excited.)
Yeah, they're big. I talk with a couple people there quite often so I'll
drop them a line and pick their brains a little bit.

>Use Opensource (r), and no one will ask you for money.
The OpenSource + pay support hasn't really sold everyone here yet. Seems
logical to me, but I guess they need to be won over.

Speaking of, one of the guys here was really upset with Sun's support
and is leery of Grid Engine because of some issue with a Cobalt Rack
system. I was always under the impression Sun's support was quite good,
the cobalt stuff was just kind of a red-headed step child they never
wanted. What's everybody's perception of Grid Engine's support? I've
heard some accounts of great responsiveness from the community and
getting bugs fixed very quickly. Unfortunately, it's hard to sell to the
bosses based on community support alone.

>SGE has array jobs, but all others do not.
I'll have to check this feature out. Sounds very interesting and well
suited for our kind of usage. It hadn't come up in my searches before.

>ganglia is good, a lot of people use it. I just think
>setting up a webpage is the overkilled part -- need to
>run Apache to monitor the cluster -- but just MHO
People are going to have to go in and see how their jobs are progressing
on the farm. We're talking about artists here. Asking them to cut off
their arms would be easier than getting them to log into a shell and
type a few commands. So far it looks like pretty much every clustering
system has hooks for integrating it into a web page. (Luckily this isn't
my area to develop). So we ought to have something quite nice for them
to use.

>The problem with SGE when handling MPI jobs is that it
>takes time to set up the PE, and PBS has an external
>interface which is much nicer. People had already
>written mpiexec to take advantage of the interface. 
MPI is completely a non issue here. Even if I were to write a cluster
app in the traditional sense, I wouldn't use it. (Bad memories in
college, but I suspect they had it poorly set up)

>I think the best is to try it yourself, as it all
>depends on what you want to do.
That's next month when we buy the development cluster. We just need some
recommendations before diving in.

Everybody, thanks for the help on this last weekend. We start talking to
different hardware providers this week, so I needed a quick background
in the options before they try and pitch something to us that will only
cause headaches down the road.

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