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Old 07-01-2013, 09:24 PM   #1
Garda
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I want a supercomputer


I want to build a supercomputer. I basically want a regular desktop computer with a bit more RAM and hard drive space than a typical desktop, but with a whole bunch of processors for parallel computing. I'm not really sure where to start.

What is the best (i.e. cheapest) way to do this?

I don't mind if they're ARM or AMD64 CPUs. I have heard of people creating Raspberry PI clusters, or using a workstation for each individual node, but that seems really inefficient to me. I mean, the ARM chips that come in most phones are only a few dollars. I'm a little surprised that there is not more of a market for people that want to do this with a household level budget.

Is there a site/forum for this that I have missed?
 
Old 07-01-2013, 09:28 PM   #2
evo2
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Hi,

can you please give a little more information about what you really want to achieve, and what sort of budget you have? What exactly is "a whole bunch of processors"? Is this something that you really plan on doing, or just something you "want" to do?

Evo2.
 
Old 07-01-2013, 09:36 PM   #3
Garda
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I want to run finite element analyses faster, with more CPUs. Something like a regular desktop with 8 chips (so that if it's an i7 CPU with hyper-threading, it would appear to be 64 processors). I am mostly curious to see what's possible and how much it would cost.

Currently just a curiosity.
 
Old 07-01-2013, 09:51 PM   #4
evo2
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Hi,

all the big boys (eg HP, Dell, etc) produce machines like that but you'll be looking in the 10 KUSD range. Unless you are making use of all the CPUs 24/7 you'll be wasting money. If you want serious horse power but only for short spurts you may do better looking at cloud services where you only pay for the CPU that you actually use, when you use it.

Cheers,

Evo2.
 
Old 07-01-2013, 10:16 PM   #5
rokytnji
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I guess it depends how much money ya got.
 
Old 07-02-2013, 12:01 AM   #6
John VV
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here you go

build your own
Using everything most of us love
LEGO'S and Raspberry PI
http://www.zdnet.com/raspberry-pi-me...os-7000004209/
a guide
http://www.southampton.ac.uk/~sjc/ra...outhampton.htm

--- edit --
i should have fallowed the link in the above post
the same page

Last edited by John VV; 07-02-2013 at 12:04 AM.
 
Old 07-03-2013, 02:51 PM   #7
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To use multiple systems, you'd need a framework that supports tasks being sent to each of these nodes. Unless you have something like OpenMPI or such it will be useless to have thousands of processors.

Some apps could be/ are written to use the power of common gpu's which have quite a lot processors and fast. Not enough linux support I'd think for common tasks.

I might look https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...tware_packages for ideas.


The former Sun company had a neat trick to distribute processes across a number of systems. If you could still buy a Sparc system with this software and distribute the work over all your friends or other computers then the processing would be mostly free.
 
Old 07-03-2013, 04:14 PM   #8
TobiSGD
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If you are writing your own software for your purpose you can have a look at OpenCL, port your software to it and throw a bunch of high-end video-cards into your machine for massive parallel computations.
 
Old 07-04-2013, 05:42 AM   #9
mjolnir
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http://arstechnica.com/security/2012...rd-in-6-hours/

Probably a little to expensive for my budget!
 
Old 07-04-2013, 11:47 AM   #10
frieza
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the real trick isn't just what can i afford, it's making a system that's scalable so you can start small and easily expand as necessary, or more funds become available.
 
Old 07-04-2013, 12:05 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frieza View Post
the real trick isn't just what can i afford, it's making a system that's scalable so you can start small and easily expand as necessary, or more funds become available.
That depends on the speed of interconnect you need between the processors:

If you are OK with LAN speeds, then ordinary computers connected by LAN will cost less initially for the same level of multi-processing (compared to more tightly connected systems) and will scale easily.

At the opposite extreme, shared ram: There is a big cost jump from one CPU package to two, but not so much that two computers with one CPU package each cost less than one computer with two CPU packages. Then there is a much bigger jump from two CPU packages to four CPU packages, so a computer with four CPU packages definitely cost more than two computers of two packages each. Beyond four CPU packages with interconnect speed compatible with sharing ram, the prices are absurd. If the problem doesn't absolutely demand shared ram, then the cost prohibits shared ram. In that entire space there is no real after-purchase scalability. You buy what you need up front or you don't do it at all.

In between those connectivity extremes are the various designs that are normally called "super computers". Compute nodes are interconnected at much higher speeds than LAN speeds, but not interconnected well enough that large scale sharing of memory is practical. The cost of entry is very high. Initial purchase scaling is pretty good. Add on scaling isn't good, but it isn't terrible. Anyway, I'm pretty sure the entry level is out of your price range.

So the key is in decomposition of the problem such that it can be attacked by multiple systems with independent memory and relatively slow (LAN) communication between systems. If you can't do that, at least forget about expanding after the initial purchase and probably abandon the whole idea.
 
Old 07-05-2013, 03:11 PM   #12
guyonearth
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What you want isn't generally available for several reasons, one, there's no demand for it. Most people only use a fraction of their computing power as it is. Second, it becomes electrically/mechanically challenging to make a "desktop" computer that can handle more than a couple cpus because of heat/power issues. A high powered CPU can can draw signifcant power. In a system with say a dozen or so, you're going to quickly run into a situation where you may not be able to supply enough power from a normal outlet, not to mention the power supply itself is going to become very expensive. This is why big rackmount servers with 8 or more cpus can easily exceed $100k, the level of engineering is simply much higher. What you could do is build a dual-cpu computer using a server board of the type that's readily available for under $500, assuming you're willing to buy the correct case and power supply to support it. With six-core Xeon cpus you'd have 12 cores available to work.

Consider something like this:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16813131379
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16819117256
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16811123131

Or there's always eBay:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/DELL-POWERED...item58a0d5ce7b

http://www.ebay.com/itm/IBM-iDataPle...item5898ccb5b9
 
Old 07-05-2013, 04:35 PM   #13
John VV
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most people do not need a "render farm"
nor do they work on imaging data sets that can be over 25 to 50 Gig

a 4 / 8 / 16 node cluster might be a bit better
scalable and "off the shelf" hardware
 
Old 07-09-2013, 03:09 PM   #14
rnturn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnsfine View Post
That depends on the speed of interconnect you need between the processors:

If you are OK with LAN speeds, then ordinary computers connected by LAN will cost less initially for the same level of multi-processing (compared to more tightly connected systems) and will scale easily.
Maybe the quad-socket motherboards from Supermicro or Tyan populated with 16-core Opterons would fit his needs. (I know 64 cores would suit my needs just fine, thank you very much.) If the code doesn't have to leave the motherboard, the interprocessor interconnect should be fast enough for him. The downside is that the CPUs will likely run you over US$1000 EACH (closer to $1500 for the fastest clock speeds). Plus all the RAM you'll want to to keep those cores supplied with code/data, the industrial-strength case/power supplies/cooling you'll need... well, whoever (evo2?) estimated that he might be spending US$10K was probably pretty close.

--
RT
 
Old 07-09-2013, 03:42 PM   #15
szboardstretcher
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Its within the realm of possibility to build a beowulf cluster on some smaller footprint hardware.

This is an article from 2000 that shows an excellent way to get started. Some modifications would be needed, such as cooling,.. but you can get a 'lot' of computers from ebay for near nothing and build something nice with the inexpensive hardware.

http://www.clustercompute.com/
 
  


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