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Cluster computing

Community Veteran
Posts: 14,439
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Registered: ‎01-08-2007

Cluster computing

SteveM recently posted a through about the cloud in chitchat and it reminded me of an old interest I never followed up..
I was looking at setting up a cluster (at the time I had 16 Dells from an office clearance - since rehomed). Now originally I thought a beowulf cluster was the same as any other cluster. According to wikipedia (the source of ultimate accuracy) there are load balancing clusters and beowulf clusters - both of which apparently act as one large super computer. So whats the difference then?
It seems this cluster computing is designed for a linux environment. Now.. that being said.. could I setup this linux cluster as one large virtual computer and then run a VM machine of windows on it?
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5 REPLIES
VileReynard
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Re: Cluster computing

Grin

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Re: Cluster computing

Tongue
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wisty
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Re: Cluster computing

Quote from: okrzynska

...could I setup this linux cluster as one large virtual computer and then run a VM machine of windows on it?

Short answer probably not - and it wouldn't be worth it if you did.
Longer answer
Quote from: okrzynska

... there are load balancing clusters and beowulf clusters - both of which apparently act as one large super computer. So what's the difference then?

AIUI a Beowulf cluster is inherently designed to do massively parallel processing (i.e run programs that have huge numbers of identical threads all of which can execute in parallel - think weather forecasting models or graphics rendering). Control from the server is little more than parcelling out tasks to the client machines and letting them get on with it - they report back on completion.
A load balancing cluster is a more complex architecture with shared memory under the overall control of a single copy of the OS which schedules heterogeneous jobs across multiple CPU's. Early versions (VAXen, IBM mainfames) were developed to overcome the limited power of single CPU's and came with specialised hardware to share memory, I/O buses etc. That technology Intel now implement on multi CPU chips, and servers that are designed to house multiple CPU chips have it built in.
A modern multi CPU Intel or AMD based machine running Windows or Linux is in effect a load balancing cluster. A modern high spec graphics card with 64 or 128 graphics processors is implementing a Beowulf cluster.
A Beowulf cluster is inherently the wrong architecture for the general purpose workload inherent in a Windows VM . A load balancing cluster really has to have shared memory, one based on separate machines linked only by ethernet and using software to shift threads around between machines would be appallingly slow.
Simonk695
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Registered: ‎01-09-2011

Re: Cluster computing

What advantage does 'Clustering' bring to your system?  RAID would speed up hard disk access and be much cheaper.  The cost of Windows Server Enterprise Edition, which would be required, is nothing to be sniffed at.  Even Linux system such as Red Hat are not free for the server version.  If you did want to go ahead, then identical hardware is a must. 
Me?  I would go RAID.  A RAID Zero disk set will give you all the speed you need, add a Solid State hard disk for the OS, the other for the data.  Just remember that is one of the disks fails, bang goes your data.
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Re: Cluster computing

I wasn't looking for mirrored disks or faster disk access.. I was looking for more computing power  Wink
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