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Thread: hardware clustering

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    hardware clustering

    what is Clustering" and can you use it to combine the performance 2 or more p.c's for any particular application ?

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    From Beowulf.org:

    "Cluster is a widely-used term meaning independent computers combined into a unified system through software and networking. At the most fundamental level, when two or more computers are used together to solve a problem, it is considered a cluster. Clusters are typically used for High Availability (HA) for greater reliability or High Performance Computing (HPC) to provide greater computational power than a single computer can provide."
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    i.e. 2 brains are better than one

    The same method is used for SETI is it not?

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    thanks KEZ, i basically asked this question to know if I can use clustering to combine the performance and hardware of my present p.c with a better and newer p.c (if I buy a new one), so that I can get maximum performance from both the computers for any small or large application. I have been thinking about buying a new p.c but do not wish to throw away my present p.c especially when it is stiil working fine. My present configuration is a Pentium 3, 800 MHz ,810e motherboard, 64 mb sdram, 20 gb hdd.

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    Never really seen it used like what I think you're describing, which would indicate it either doesn't work, or isn't worth it.
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    I have also heard from friends that combining the proccesing power of two or more p.c's (like the way super computers are made) can only apply to certain applications and not any day to day applications (like some software or a game). Any truth in this information that I have got ?

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    They speak the truth.

    Clustering is useful for heavy computational tasks using programs that can utilise clusters. I think the c compiler for linux can make use of clusters, but you certainly can't use clustering on a game.
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    Quote Originally Posted by firefox
    what is Clustering" and can you use it to combine the performance 2 or more p.c's for any particular application ?
    Depends whose 'cluster' you are referring to... I've used the Sun Cluster, HP cluster and IBM cluster software, but the main push of them is to have 'fail over' - i.e., if a machine dies, others in the cluster can reboot to run the apps it was serving. This of course means that those apps. have to be held on an externally addressable disk subsystem.

    The alternative type of cluster is when you build a 'distributed' system, where your application is split across multiple 'nodes' (i.e. machines), and all bits run simultaneously. This won't normally make things faster for one 'user' or 'transaction', but it will allow you to scale much higher - i.e. lots of users/transactions. Some products have this type of clustering built-in (i.e. IBM WebSphere) and some also require an external cluster-manager (i.e. Oracle 8i/9i). The only downside here is the network overhead between the cluster members, and keeping them 'in sync' when data on one node is updated; this can outweigh the benfit of the cluster.

    If you want something tighter from your 'cluster' than above, then look at SMP within the same machine (i.e. multi CPU with shared memory). But then that isn't really termed a cluster, although it's the same idea. I've also used/programmed parallel-processor array systems, which again are a type of mid-way between a cluster and an SMP system.

    Confusing, isn't it! :-) Let me know if you need more.

    PS. Any good 1st year University Computer Science book covering 'Hardware Architecture' should help you out (ah, SIMD, MIMI, SISD, MISD - the memories just keep flooding back...:-))

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nomadd
    PS. Any good 1st year University Computer Science book covering 'Hardware Architecture' should help you out (ah, SIMD, MIMI, SISD, MISD - the memories just keep flooding back...:-))

    Nomadd
    Those are vaguely familar from one of the modules on my college course last year... heh.
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    Yup, it's primarily used for high end number crunching when not used in a fail-over sense, usually things like weather pattern prediction, modelling and analysis, and nuclear science modelling etc

    With thise each node takes a bit of the data to process, then it's all glued back together to produce the final dataset.

    You also need a *lot* of power for the larger clusters
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    Apps have to be specially written to allow distributed processing - certain 3d renderers can do this as can special ones I've seen written using DCOM to utilise spare CPU capacity on an enterpise network , ie the clients will do some cruching for the servers overnight or during idle activity , much in the same way SETI / UD do.
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    3D max offers this, as some of the renders can take a _very_ long time to complete
    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen View Post
    And by trying to force me to like small pants, they've alienated me.

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    THANKS all of you for the info. I guess that If I buy a new p.c then I will have to do away with my present one. Then again I may not buy a new p.c in the first place because I do not wish to waste my working p.c just because its old. This is the main dilema I am facing and so I hoped to use clustering to add my present proccessing power of my p.c with a new one, so thart I don't have to throw away my p.c .

    By the way "NOMADD" that was confusing I yes I would like to know more , specially about the SMP systems you were refering to.

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    Quote Originally Posted by firefox
    By the way "NOMADD" that was confusing I yes I would like to know more , specially about the SMP systems you were refering to.
    I could go on for days, but this isn't really the place. :-)

    Like I said, it's really best to grab a Comp. Sci. book on computer hardware architectures. They will cover most of the 'tight' types of clustering of resources: SMP, AMP, Computing surfaces (2D), hyper-cubes (3D), Vector, Pipeline, etc. Also, have a look at IBMs Power Architecture (or the upcoming Intel/AMD CPUs) for many of these ideas being pushed onto a single die (i.e. multi-core CPU's). You've also got the halfway-house of multi-threaded CPUs, like Intel P4's. Add in SIMD command sets like SSE and 3DNow, and it becomes very blurry as to how the parallel/concurrent facilities of systems can be presented. GPUs are another place to look if you are interested in highly paralellised systems (And why are they this way? Because many graphics operations are well-suited to this type of processing...)

    Many of the same ideas above can be implemented in 'loose' collections of independent machines - more normally what you'd call a 'cluster'. Still, these machines may depend on very dedicated interconnects: fibre networking, dedicated switches, very high speed cross-buses, etc. Really depends on the system architecture and who you buy it from (or whose bits you use to assemble it from, if you are DIY'ing.)

    I've spent 20 years programming and architecting this type stuff, but even I have to tread carefully when recommending systems designs to clients. Every solution - including clusters - has it's trade-off's, and it's not something you'll learn overnight. Still, read up, and learn you will, young Jedi. It's fun, and you might end up charging someone handsomely for that knowledge one day. It's nice work, when you can get it. :-)

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    I think I definitely need to read more about it. By the way I am studing about Windows 2000 O.S right now and have come across this clustering term. What would this clustering mean and how and which applications could use it in Win 2000.

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    Quote Originally Posted by firefox
    THANKS all of you for the info. I guess that If I buy a new p.c then I will have to do away with my present one. Then again I may not buy a new p.c in the first place because I do not wish to waste my working p.c just because its old. This is the main dilema I am facing and so I hoped to use clustering to add my present proccessing power of my p.c with a new one, so thart I don't have to throw away my p.c .

    By the way "NOMADD" that was confusing I yes I would like to know more , specially about the SMP systems you were refering to.
    Why would you buy a whole new PC ? why not just upgrade components ( unless you have a case that cannot be re-used like a dell for example ) I'm sure your old compnents can then be sold on etc.

    You could also re-use your old box as a file server - or convert it to run silently for a media server / downloads box.

    You "old" has many uses , with out having to cluster it with the main one. why not run it as a web server and have a go at hosting your own site.

    or perhaps have a look at running linux on it for the challenge that open source software offers ( see the excellent Open source software articles on the main site for more info in this )

    there are endless possibilties - I'm sure you'll find a use for your old system , but clustering it in that way is probably going to be like putting wheels on a tomato. (Difficult , but useless )
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