[Beowulf] Re: MS Cray

David Mathog mathog at caltech.edu
Tue Sep 16 16:01:49 PDT 2008

Prentice Bisbal <prentice at ias.edu> wrote:
> Quote from article:
> "It's also attempting to lure scientists and researchers with
> discretionary IT budgets to forget using shared, giant clusters and get
> their own box and tuck it in behind their desk where no one can see it
> to run their workloads locally. The personal supercomputer is not a new
> idea, but this is the first time that Cray is trying it out in the
> That will work great until the newbie scientists find that airflow into
> a computer tucked in "behind their desk where no one can see it" is piss
> poor, and that fans powerful enough to provide adequate airflow "behind
> the desk where no one can see it" are going to be LOUD.

Well, they _might_ be able to muffle the air flow noise with an
expensive, and most likely large, case design.  The one thing they can't
get away from is the heat.  Anything "super", meaning much faster than
an average desktop, is going to use a lot of power, and 1000W is roughly
where I would imagine this sort of machine would sit, the upper limit
being set by the need to leave at least 500W for incidentals like small
printers, phones, displays and the like, on the same 15A circuit.  1000W
is too much heat to have under ones desk, unless a dramatically lowered
sperm count is the goal.  It is also pushing the edge of the AC capacity
for a small office. On the other hand, if Cray can make it reasonably
quiet it should be ok in a lab environment, even at 1000W.  Labs have
better air flow, higher AC capacity, and better power (multiple 20A
circuits are common) than do offices.  Labs are better, but not THAT
much better, so if everybody in the lab wants one, you might be back to
needing a machine room, at which point the expensive quiet case was
a waste of money.  Or worse, they might not fit in racks.


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

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