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Commodity High Performance Computing at Commodity Prices

Commodity High Performance Computing at Commodity Prices
Commodity High Performance Computing at Commodity Prices
The entry price of supercomputing has traditionally been very high. As processing elements, operating systems, and switch technology become cheap commodity parts, building a powerful supercomputer at a fraction of the price of a proprietary system becomes realistic. We have recently purchased, in support of both our local and national collaborations, a dedicated computational cluster of eight DEC Alpha workstations. Each node has a 500MHz AXP21164A processor with 256Mb memory running Windows NT 4.0 and cost under 6000 pounds. They are connected by 100Mb/s switched ethernet. In this paper we discuss some of the issues raised by our choice of processor, operating system and interconnection network. The results we present indicate that the cluster is fully competitive with systems from major vendors for a wide range of engineering and science applications, and at a cost lower by at least a factor of three. Indeed the only current area of under-performance relative to these vendors' high-end offerings is the inter-node network bandwidth and latency. We give some initial results indicating how the network performance might be improved under Windows NT.
90-5199-391-9
19-26
Cox, S.J.
feea307f-f0e1-4063-869b-a3d0d947bfe2
Nicole, D.A.
0aca6dd1-833f-4544-b7a4-58fb91c7395a
Takeda, K.
d3d33a82-04d2-4170-bf87-8279fb84a54e
Cox, S.J.
feea307f-f0e1-4063-869b-a3d0d947bfe2
Nicole, D.A.
0aca6dd1-833f-4544-b7a4-58fb91c7395a
Takeda, K.
d3d33a82-04d2-4170-bf87-8279fb84a54e

Cox, S.J., Nicole, D.A. and Takeda, K. (1998) Commodity High Performance Computing at Commodity Prices. At WOTUG-21, Proceedings of the 21st World occam and transputer user group technical meeting WOTUG-21, Proceedings of the 21st World occam and transputer user group technical meeting. pp. 19-26.

Record type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Abstract

The entry price of supercomputing has traditionally been very high. As processing elements, operating systems, and switch technology become cheap commodity parts, building a powerful supercomputer at a fraction of the price of a proprietary system becomes realistic. We have recently purchased, in support of both our local and national collaborations, a dedicated computational cluster of eight DEC Alpha workstations. Each node has a 500MHz AXP21164A processor with 256Mb memory running Windows NT 4.0 and cost under 6000 pounds. They are connected by 100Mb/s switched ethernet. In this paper we discuss some of the issues raised by our choice of processor, operating system and interconnection network. The results we present indicate that the cluster is fully competitive with systems from major vendors for a wide range of engineering and science applications, and at a cost lower by at least a factor of three. Indeed the only current area of under-performance relative to these vendors' high-end offerings is the inter-node network bandwidth and latency. We give some initial results indicating how the network performance might be improved under Windows NT.

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Published date: 1998
Venue - Dates: WOTUG-21, Proceedings of the 21st World occam and transputer user group technical meeting, 1998-01-01
Organisations: Electronic & Software Systems

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 250897
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/250897
ISBN: 90-5199-391-9
PURE UUID: 57c192f9-fe0c-4e4f-955e-b76d8301366f

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Date deposited: 27 Oct 1999
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 10:13

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Contributors

Author: S.J. Cox
Author: D.A. Nicole
Author: K. Takeda

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