[Beowulf] how useful is bproc, and what does Scyld cost?

Andrew Piskorski atp at piskorski.com
Tue May 25 12:37:45 PDT 2004

I'm tentatively planning a small cluster that might or might not
actually get built.  My current plan is somewhere from 5-20 nodes, 1-2
x86 CPUs per node (exact CPU flavor undecided), gigabit ethernet, and
all nodes either entirely diskless, or using 1 IDE disk solely for
swap and /tmp.

I would prefer to have as much as posible of the cluster software
infrastructure Just Work, rather than having to spend lots of time
rolling my own.  (I will be spending enough time on the custom
software I actually want to RUN on the cluster as is.)  I am, of
course, quite willing to select hardware in order to make the software
job easier on myself.

Since I want to go diskless anyway, so far I am also leaning towards a
bproc based cluster.  I only know of two bproc-based cluster
distributions, Scyld and Clustermatic.  Scyld is commerical and costs
money, Clustermatic is not and does not.  Are there any others?  In
particular, are there any Debian based systems that play nicely out of
the box with bproc?

How much time and effort is Scyld actually going to save me over using
Clustermatic?  How much is either going to save me over completely
rolling my own, preferably using Debian rather than the old and
outdated versions of Red Hat that Scyld and Clustermatic seem to use?
Also, are there any major drawbacks or snafus I should worry about in
going down the bproc route?

Finally, just what DOES Scyld actually cost?  Can anyone give me a
rough idea?

>From Scyld's website, I can't tell whether they charge 50 cents or
$5,000 per node, and the Scyld/Penguin salesman seemed unable to spit
out any kind of ballpark price at all.  AFAICT, Scyld seems to expect
you to first actually build your cluster, and then send them your
cluster's complete hardware specs, down to the smallest detail, in
order to get any kind of quote!


Andrew Piskorski <atp at piskorski.com>

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