PowerPC Beowulf Who?

sean o'malley somalley at ed.mde.state.mi.us
Thu Feb 25 21:28:42 EST 1999

Firewire is _begging_ for clustering/Assymetrical processing (think about a
block of networked RAM). Its almost a waste not to use it for that.

Second its begging to _not_ to use TCP/IP

Third I dont think it needs routers/switches and it definately doesnt need
as much work to install a network vs fibre.

Fourth if someone wants to hack at a firewire driver try (I dont have a

Fifth, I really need to read up on this stuff =)

Sixth, Compaq is selling Linux clusters with the new Alphas. (or so i read


>On Tue, 23 Feb 1999, Robert G. Werner wrote:
>> I'm pretty new to Beowulf myself but I haven't ran across any groups
>> specifically oriented toward supporting PPC.
>> As in regards to the General Beowulf:
>> Turnkey systems for Beowulf are still a new phenomenon.  Most of the famous
>> clusters I've ever heard of were hand built.
>> I've heard of some companies (don't remember names) that will sell turnkey
>> systems but I'm assuming those are IA32 or Aplha.
>> What exactly do you mean by SW revision support?
>> On the PPC:
>> IIRC Firewire isn't even working under LinuxPPC as a regular interface
>> Looking into using it for networking in a Beowulf cluster is a bit
>> premature IMHO.  Is there even any commercial HW for this?
>> I really do have a hunch that once you can get Firewire,  say,  to work
>> Linux on PPC,  then it will be trivial to make it work with the clustering
>> libs.
>I wouldn't hold out high hopes for firewire.. Fast ethernet and Gigabit
>ethernet are both much more cost effective, and available now. One of the
>things that makes fast ethernet work so well for Beowulf applications is
>the price/performance one can get with fast ethernet switches. Gigabit
>ethernet is quickly getting very affordable also.
>I doubt firewire switches will be available any time in the near future,
>not to mention TCP/IP support for firewire.
>> Check out the Linux Paralale-HOWTO
>> (at http://metalab.unc.edu/mdw/HOWTO/Parallel-Processing-HOWTO-2.html)
>> for some information on who is developing the non-ethernet networking
>> technologies for clustering.  Perdue is big in this field,  IIRC.  They
>> a nice technique using the paralale port for networking even(PAPERS).
>> As far as I know,  all of these are great questions but Beowulf clustering
>> technology is still experimental enough that many of your questions haven't
>> been completely answered for IA32 and Alpha let alone PPC.
>> Again,  I'm not an expert.  Just an enthusiastic beginer like yourself.
>Also see http://www.scl.ameslab.gov/Projects/ClusterCookbook/
>Actually, I would say Beowulf applications are quite useable.. I work at
>the Scalable Computing Lab (the above url), and we regularly users running
>scientific applications on a 64 node Pentium Pro cluster.
>> BTW,  what applications are you looking to use your cluster for?  Do you
>>have a
>> specific task in mind or are you just looking to make sure that LinuxPPC
>>can do
>> clusters too?
>> Robert G. Werner
>> rwerner at lx1.microbsys.com
>> Impeach Conggress!!
>> "Just think, with VLSI we can have 100 ENIACS on a chip!"
>> -- Alan Perlis
>> On Tue, 23 Feb 1999, Campbell, Marc wrote:
>> > There are several issues.  Some PPC specific and some not.
>> >
>> > General issues would include the ability to procure turn key system
>>and software revision support.
>> >
>> > PPC specific issues start with the assurance that the necessary  libs
>>(e.g. MPI) have been checked out on PPC hardware clusters.
>> >
>> > Another PPC issue is cluster communication.  In some cases standard
>>ethernet is not enough cluster bandwidth.  In what case does FireWire
>>make sense in a PPC Beowulf (Linux) cluster?  Is Myrinet (www.myri.com) a
>>more appropriate clustering communication
>>  system? If Myrinet, then where are the LinuxPPC or YDL drivers?
>>Myrinet lists Alpha Linux and x86 Linux but NOT PPC Linux
>> >
>> > Who is taking initiative in the PowerPC/AltiVec Beowulf (Linux
>>clustering) area?
>It seems the Linux clustering area is a rather small (but quickly growing)
>niche, and the PPC niche even smaller. To compound the problem, PPC
>hardware either isn't supported very well under Linux (the new Apple
>G3's), or is expensive (Motorola's MTX boards). This isn't to say the new
>G3's won't get support eventually, but by the time it's available, the
>hardware is old. Someone building a cluster wants it to work ASAP, and
>doesn't want year-old hardware.
>I personally think the Motorola MTX boards would be terrific for clusters
>since one could rack mount the boards on an approximately 2-3 inch
>spaceing since SCSI and fast ethernet are built on the board. Then there's
>the bonus that they only draw 30 watts for a dual 604e, cutting down on
>cooling and power bills. The only difficulty is you're going to pay about
>twice what a similiar Pentium II cluster will cost. (of course, rack
>mounting PII's isn't exactly cheap either)
>| Troy Benjegerdes    |       troy at microux.com     |    hozer at drgw.net   |
>|    Unix is user friendly... You just have to be friendly to it first.  |
>| This message composed with 100% free software.    http://www.gnu.org   |

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