[Beowulf] Are You Ready for "Intel Cluster Ready"

Brian Dobbins brian.dobbins at yale.edu
Wed Jun 27 11:50:43 PDT 2007

Hi Doug and everyone else,

  I remember some of our initial clusters running with really tiny 
ramdisks, and the idea of putting anything non-essential on the nodes 
seemed like blasphemy, but as a quick counterpoint, I just installed 
some nodes and included Tcl as required by the (environment) Modules 
package.  I think this in turn is used by OSCAR's "switcher", and NPACI 
Rocks - in fact, in section 8.9.6 of the PDF, they do list OSCAR and 
Rocks as 'satisfying the requirements.'  Having something like Modules 
or SoftEnv makes life much easier and is well worth the small amount of 
space on a system, in my opinion.   (Though, to be fair, I think SoftEnv 
doesn't need Tcl at all.)

  The point is, memory and disk are cheap, and even with a ramdisk, an 
extra 1MB (for Tcl) is hardly anything to sweat in most cases.  Python?  
Besides MPICH and its derivatives, some OS utilities (yum, for example) 
use it.   Also, I didn't see it in there, but does the spec say they 
have to be locally installed, or can these packages be mounted via NFS?

  I've only glanced very quickly at the document itself (anyone else see 
the "Intel Confidential" markings on every page?), but it might just be 
that the Java, X11, etc. packages that they look for are required to run 
the full suite of Intel cluster tools.  Chances are, this also mimics 
the setup they have at their labs.  So, basically, this seems to me to 
be geared towards ensuring customers that they work with have an 
environment that is up to par with their own platforms... nothing more, 
nothing less.  It's like the situation with the Intel compilers that 
Igor mentions - you can install them on SuSE and they work fine, but it 
isn't technically 'supported'.

  (Heh, naturally enough, the spec also seems to call for at least one 
'Intel 64' processor per node.  No 32-bit and, understandably enough, no 

  In short, mostly everything IS optional in a cluster, but not if you 
want support.  Seems pretty much the case with any system from any 
vendor, no? 

  - Brian

Brian Dobbins
Yale Engineering HPC

Kozin, I (Igor) wrote:
> I've heard about it but was expecting it to be like a hardware spec (a la PC spec). Rather surprising to see so many software requirements. It's sort of understandable why Perl or Python (MPICH2/IntelMPI) are required. But Java, Tcl and even Python should be optional. The funny thing is we have a cluster which should comply (loads of Intel software) and yet every time I update Intel compilers the installers complain the libs are not supported (because it's Suse 10.1). Everything works fine. So what?
> Igor

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