[Beowulf] First 96-Node Transmeta Desktop Cluster Ships

Jim Lux jimlux at earthlink.net
Thu May 5 07:39:16 PDT 2005

> Your example is ONLY true for programmers living in big cities in USA.
> You ignore 95% of the world.

A company selling computers doesn't have to sell them to the entire world to
do very well for themselves.  Different tools and construction methodologies
for different environments.  A friend (a construction contractor) was
standing in a town in Mexico (Mazatlan, I think) watching a crew of 20 guys
digging a trench for a sewer line.  He commented that it seemed silly to use
that many workers by hand when you could get a backhoe in and do the job in
20 minutes. His business associate said that a backhoe, in Mexico, would
have been silly.  In that time and place, the 20 guys with shovels for a day
were a LOT cheaper than 20 minutes of backhoe rental.

Clearly, if programmers cost you $10K/yr, you're not going to spend 100K to
improve their productivity by 10%.

> >I'm somewhat suspicious of those 96 Transmeta processors myself.  As I
> >think has been discussed before on this list, I suspect that a box of
> >Opterons might make more sense in many cases.  Which means that
> >Orion's obvious competitor in this new niche market might be
> >Rocketcalc:
> As i said, i was and still am very impressed that a company suddenly can
> create from scratch such an impressive machine.
> I find their pricing a tad expensive given the current big recession
> and USA are in, especially europe, and perhaps i'm naive to believe that a
> Euro-Russian product typically has more chance of getting sold in Europe,
> than in USA.

Basic rule of pricing:  You can't sell it for less than the cost to build it
(at least not for very long).  The recession may affect how many units you
sell, and whether you can recoup your development costs.  Orion's not a huge
company (on a Intel or Dell scale), and they've only been in business a few
years, so you could probably bound their development costs at # of employees
* 2 years salary * 200% + some hardware costs, and work backwards to figure
out how many units they'll have to sell.  Or, wait til they go public (if
not already) and look at their financial statements.

However, such things are trivial and commonplace and apply to ANY business
selling a product.  (Something that ambitious amateurs often forget when
they start to sell something they've designed).

> >  http://www.rocketcalc.com/
> >  http://www.orionmulti.com/
> >
> >But claiming that there is no plausible market for a $100k "cluster in
> >a box under my desk" is just plain silly.  There most certainly is a
> >plausible market, the open question is how much it's worth and whether
> >companies like Orion can capture it.
> Let's call it the 'freak' market.
> Freak not meant in a negative way.

1% of a multi-billion dollar pie is a lot of money.


> They simply make more hours there than the average programmer does do in
> USA and most mass software gets produced by now in the far east.

I don't think so.  One would have to look at what metric you're using for
"most".  There's a growing software industry in India, but if one compared
programmer hours in India vs programmer hours in Europe and USA, I think
(but do not know for sure) that the total is still lower in India. Obviously
cost is lower per hour in India (although that's changing, too.  Salaries
are going up, and as the companies doing the work get larger, a larger
fraction of the cost goes to administrative overhead) As far as "hours of
programming per day" goes, one has to ask the ethical questions about taking
advantage of  (the lack of) wage and hour regulations. A worker in Europe
has a higher quality of life as a result of mandated shorter work week and
more vacation.  But this all gets into grand philosophical issues, and is
really irrelvant to cluster computing.

> It is just not true that a single programmer there produces less quality
> a work than an US programmer. In contradiction, usually they work way
> longer a week than programmers in Western-europe / USA do.

> $70000 really is where most start with in USA, with very little taxes to
> pay from that. $70k salary here would directly get a tax rate of 52%.

Very, very difficult to compare straight across, but at that level, income
taxes would be around 30-35% in the US (depending on the state.. I'm using
California), plus 7% for FICA (social security) plus you'd have property and
sales taxes (even if renting, they're part of the rent). Property taxes can
be roughly approximated as 8% of the annual expense for housing. The usual
rule of thumb is that 30% of your gross income is used for housing, so 2.4%
of gross. Sales tax is another 7%.  Figuring that your prototypical 70k/yr
wage slave is spending probably half of that income on sales taxable goods,
it's 3.5%.  So, we're up to 37+2.4+3.5... and you're getting pretty close to
40-50%.  It's not that different, when all is said and done.

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