[Beowulf] Re: Cluster newbie, power recommendations

David Mathog mathog at caltech.edu
Tue Mar 21 09:35:25 PST 2006

Charlie Peck <charliep at cs.earlham.edu> wrote

> I think clusters like the one Eric wants to build have /significant/ 
> educational value, both in the building and the use.  How else does one 
> learn to do parallel/distributed programming if not on a cluster, even 
> a "toy" one?  Sure the single AMD64 will be more powerful but it won't 
> provide an opportunity to learn about message passing, speedup, 
> efficiency, problem decomposition, etc.

Interesting question that, how else might this be done? 

I wonder if one couldn't set up a single modern computer,
with a fast CPU and tons of memory, as N virtual machines, for
instance using VMware, and then run a sort of virtual cluster?
Obviously there wouldn't be any performance advantage to doing
this but it might allow the subject to be taught when a real
clusters isn't available. 

Presumably VMware already has some method for handling the network
needs of each virtual machine, although I'm guessing it might
not extend all the way to a DHCP boot emulation.  There would also
need to be some sort of peculiar performance measurement system
at the VMware level since it would have to pretend that the
N machines running sequentially were actually working in parallel,
and report performance as if they had been.

Seems doable.  Maybe even worth doing so that this subject could
be more easily taught.


David Mathog
mathog at caltech.edu
Manager, Sequence Analysis Facility, Biology Division, Caltech

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