[Beowulf] Re: Re: GPU boards and cluster servers.

Joe Landman landman at scalableinformatics.com
Mon Sep 8 16:46:47 PDT 2008

Jeff Johnson wrote:
>> A Xeon is a Xeon is a Xeon.
> This is a very true statement.
> Unfortunately for many, the commonality ends where the processor and 
> socket meet. There is a great deal of deviation in motherboard designs. 
> Some are much better than others and it is not always based on the 
> location of the factory (China versus Japan, USA, etc).


> Intel, as an example, releases a reference design and bios definition 
> that is usually the gold standard for a particular type of platform. 
> Many companies will take this design and modify it to fit their needs 
> and in the process streamline the design. That is usually a cost driven 
> exercise.

Lets all say it together now ... Broadcomm NICs on motherboards ...


> The end result is usually a decent server platform that performs well in 
> a file/print or even enterprise space. Unfortunately for those who have 
> been bitten, we all know there is a difference between how a well tuned 
> HPC environment can put demands on hardware, challenge tolerances and 
> expose any of the cost driven "changes" made to a motherboard.

Yeah.  Not just motherboards.  All components.  Things that work really 
well in an office context, that an IT person wouldn't give a second 
thought to deploying do not work well, if at all, in an HPC environment. 
  We have seen this again and again, usually in the contexts (curiously 
enough) of storage design, networking, as well as computing system design.

> I have seen HPC sites that can make a Dell 1950 stumble with little 
> difficulty. Granted, that requires a well tuned environment and skilled 
> savvy users that can place demands on machines where the various 
> shortcomings are exposed. A fair number of the previously mentioned 

Nothing helps you debug a design like a real use case, live, in action, 
on your system.

> sole-source contracts end up being penny-wise and dollar-foolish as well 
> as detrimental to the people actually relying on the hardware for 
> productive research.


I have never seen a reduction in competition as productive for the 
consumer in that market.  Reduction in choice, increase in price, 
decrease in consumer leverage.  This is good ... how?

Joseph Landman, Ph.D
Founder and CEO
Scalable Informatics LLC,
email: landman at scalableinformatics.com
web  : http://www.scalableinformatics.com
phone: +1 734 786 8423 x121
fax  : +1 866 888 3112
cell : +1 734 612 4615

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