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Having trouble installing a piece of hardware? Want to know if that peripheral is compatible with Linux?

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Old 08-21-2007, 03:14 AM   #1
mistersnorfles
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Building Cluster With Laptop Parts


I want to try to build a somewhat portable computer cluster. I am going to use laptop parts to cut down on the size and energy usage.

How would you all recommend encasing it? How would you deal with cooling? Do you know of anyone that makes a case that could hold several laptop motherboards, memory, disks, and NICs? Any ideas on how to maybe go about building one myself? I want it to be about the same size as a mini-tower, but a bit thinner.

I want to try to have something that has about five or six 1.5 Ghz Pentium-M processors, each accompanied by 1024 MB RAM, 802.11b/g card (for internet), and gigabit ethernet (for message/data passing within the cluster). I don't want them to have sound cards, screens, video cards, modems, or mouse or keyboard connections -- just memory, processor, storage, and NICs-- but they do need USB (for USB mice/keyboards)...

I will be controlling the cluster from my laptop.

Any ideas? I just don't know what to search for -- a few good search terms for this topic would be very helpful...

Thanks,
Mr. Snorfles

Last edited by mistersnorfles; 08-21-2007 at 03:15 AM.
 
Old 08-21-2007, 04:09 AM   #2
walla299
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My first thought about something like this is you might want to Google for some used laptops with the specs you need. If you buy new, it sounds like you would void the warranties as soon as you opened up the cases.

You may want to Google for "over clocking" and other such sites, as some folks have built some rather unique cabinets for their machines - not to mention other hardware mods.

Seems like you'd need a cabinet with enough fans for proper cooling, depending on where you are planning to put this setup. Linux does lend itself well to "headless" operation, though, and there are several distros I've heard of that are easy to set up for it. (headless operation = no screen, keyboard, mouse.)

Try www.distrowatch.com for "clustering" distros.

Hope this helps.
 
Old 08-21-2007, 04:17 AM   #3
brianmcgee
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I would go for Via Epia Mainboards/CPU Bundles. They preserve energy and since you cluster them anyway it is only a matter of how many you need for your task.

They are available at the size of a cd-drive and you can easily stack them...
 
Old 08-22-2007, 10:15 PM   #4
mistersnorfles
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I checked out the Via boards -- looking perfect for the job. Thanks for the advice. Any other suggestions?
 
Old 08-23-2007, 01:02 AM   #5
brianmcgee
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I would leave out PCI cards if possible and stack them thight together. Then use huge and slow rotating fans on the sides of your custom casing to cool the components.

Then I would setup a master node that is used as a pxe boot server and nfs server for the other nodes. After all nodes are up perhaps you could shutdown the hdd and preserve energy and noise.

Computations may be stored on a usb flash disk or on a ram disk that is synced periodically to hard disk.
 
Old 08-23-2007, 03:49 AM   #6
Pearlseattle
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I have a VIA SP8000 which is quite big and I installed it in a small case, completely passive cooling (external 60W power supply). It's not fast (but fast enough for what I do, which is rip&listen to CDs and watch divx movies, as the board is mpeg4 hardware accellearated), but energy consuption is very low.
 
Old 08-25-2007, 12:49 AM   #7
mistersnorfles
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My application is going to require a large amount of storage, and is going to be doing many reads from disk, so while the boot server would probably be simpler to maintain, I think I am going to have a hard disk for each one of them to speed up disk access times, as well as to cut down on the space that everything takes up.
 
  


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