[Beowulf] Why I want a Microsoft cluster... redux

Jim Lux James.P.Lux at jpl.nasa.gov
Wed Jan 4 14:02:46 PST 2006

At 11:22 AM 1/4/2006, Douglas Eadline wrote:
>I enjoyed the discussion brought on by Jim Lux's advocacy about Microsoft
>clusters. However, something about it bothered me. Well, I thought about
>the issue over the holidays and ended up writing about it on Cluster
>"Why Is Cluster HPC So Hard?"
>I'm sure there are other opinions, so read and comment if you so choose.
>You can find it on the main page: http://www.clustermonkey.net

Excellent essay..

A comment on appliances... Think of a waffle iron or a toaster.  It's 
purpose designed, and the need doesn't really change.  I toast about as 
much toast today as I did 10 years ago, and there's not much need to 
upgrade my toaster. Likewise, the waffle iron. I just bought a new waffle 
iron since the one I got back 15 years ago finally seemed to be dying, but 
it was just fine until then.

We might speak of computer based "appliances" (firewalls, network attached 
storage, etc.), but realistically, they aren't.  The job we ask them to do 
is continuously evolving.  Would that I could have a web enabled lawn 
sprinkler controller that would realistically last 10 years (which is 
perfectly reasonable for the existing microcontroller based one that cost 
all of $30.), but I think that's unrealistic.  Quick.. how many list 
members are using old style Ethernet with the thick cable, vampire taps, 
and separate AUIs? Or even, RG-58 based coax ethernet?  10 years ago, in 
1996, 10Base2 Thinnet was state of the art.  My 10 year old toaster still 
toasts. My 25+ year old Sony trinitron still works.  And, not only do they 
still work, but they also still fully meet the needs, which haven't really 
advanced all that much.  So, unlike a Sony PS/1, or a cluster computer, 
they haven't become boat anchors.

Maybe this is what "appliance" really means?

James Lux, P.E.
Spacecraft Radio Frequency Subsystems Group
Flight Communications Systems Section
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Mail Stop 161-213
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena CA 91109
tel: (818)354-2075
fax: (818)393-6875

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