[Beowulf] MS HPC... Oh dear...
James.P.Lux at jpl.nasa.gov
Mon Jun 12 06:46:34 PDT 2006
At 09:02 PM 6/11/2006, Joe Landman wrote:
>(sorry in advance for the length)
>Gerry Creager N5JXS wrote:
> > Ooh! ISO-9002 Buzzword Compliant marketing.
>Hmmm.... not astroturfing here. I opine on http://scalability.org/?p=69
>. A few others have linked to this, so we are getting some traffic.
>Specifically, I am of the opinion that the sentence "but until now it
>has been too expensive and too difficult for many people to use
>effectively" is factually wrong. The reasoning is very simple, and
>borne out by existing data.
Read it in a MS centric context... It HAS been too expensive and difficult
to use effectively, if you start with the premise that you're going to use
only MS products. Although, there has been a version of MPICH out there
that runs on NT 4.0, etc. for years now, there are a number of other
painful things when trying to build a MS Windows cluster, having mostly to
do with cluster management (seeing what's going on on the other nodes,
managing configurations). A lot of MS "clusters" are really more like
"networks of workstations that happen to be running intercommunicating
software" and are conceptually, little different than Seti at home. (well,
maybe a bit more sophisticated..)
>If the statement of too hard could be applied to the market, one would
>need to ask exactly what people were buying that was not too hard which
>is generating all that growth. Since we know the answer (linux
>clusters), they must not be too hard to use. The systems we put
>together for our customers who don't care what is under the hood looks a
>great deal like a large windows disk (or disks) and a web page. Those
>who care about the details prefer the command line.
I suspect that the entire cluster market is a tiny, tiny pimple on the
behind of MS total sales, and the current cluster usage is a tiny fraction
of that. And of that total market, there's no question that some part of
it does find clustering *easy enough*, hence the growth. However, for all
you know, there might be 10 times as many people out who *think* (but don't
necessarily *know*) that it's possible.
There are an enormous number of people who (for a variety of fairly good
reasons) conceive of solving their problem using MS software tools (Visual
C#, e.g.). Having made a casual survey of some C# programmers I know, I
discovered that the possibility of using a cluster to solve some of their
problems wasn't even on the radar screen.
>All this said, and not to disagree with Doug Eadline and others on the
>technical details, I do think Microsoft has something to offer here, but
>They do have a number of very hard hills to climb, specifically pricing
>compared to competitors, technological feature lists, interoperability,
>security, and stability. Most of these are going to work against it.
>It would be unwise to count them out of the game though. Anyone
>remember or still use Lotus 123? Wordperfect? May take them a while,
>and they are persistent. With very deep pockets, lots of patience, and
>the ability to purchase talent.
>Linux was able to effectively kill Unix by presenting a single API to
>write to, a simple stack to deal with, a much larger potential installed
>base, a lower cost of acquisition. Microsoft has learned from this.
>Assume that this is their direction. The arguments they presented to me
>involved driving a wedge between various linux distros, and painting the
>Linux scene in a similar manner. Their MPI argument (to many stacks)
>was not a good one, as the same problem exists on windows. But the
>point is one that I and many others have complained about at some point
>in time or the other. You have different MPI stacks which are binary
>incompatible. Which means if the PathScale folks came out with a new
>hardware device to accelerate networking for folks like LSTC, then the
>LSTC folks have to relink their app against the new stack. Which is
>exactly what happened. While some folks here defend this, I want to
>note that end users don't give a rip about that. They want the new
>fangled hardware to work. Right away. Without a rebuild of the app.
>So do the vendors.
Exactly.. Load up Visual Studio, Cluster Edition, load the app, compile and go.
>What Microsoft will do is to take away as much of this as they can. I
>haven't seen it yet, but I believe they will offer MPICH as a DLL, so if
>PathScale wants to work along side some other device, you can select
>this at runtime, and just have it work. This is a nice idea.
I'd guess more as a loadable component within the ".NET framework".
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
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