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High Performance Linux Clusters with OSCAR, Rocks, OpenMosix, and MPI by Joseph D Sloan

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Chapter 2. Cluster Planning

This chapter is an overview of cluster planning. It begins by introducing four key steps in developing a design for a cluster. Next, it presents several questions you can ask to help you determine what you want and need in a cluster. Finally, it briefly describes some of the software decisions you’ll make and how these decisions impact the overall architecture of the cluster. In addition to helping people new to clustering plan the critical foundations of their cluster, the chapter serves as an overview of the software described in the book and its uses.

Design Steps

Designing a cluster entails four sets of design decisions. You should:

  1. Determine the overall mission for your cluster.

  2. Select a general architecture for your cluster.

  3. Select the operating system, cluster software, and other system software you will use.

  4. Select the hardware for the cluster.

While each of these tasks, in part, depends on the others, the first step is crucial. If at all possible, the cluster’s mission should drive all other design decisions. At the very least, the other design decisions must be made in the context of the cluster’s mission and be consistent with it.

Selecting the hardware should be the final step in the design, but often you won’t have as much choice as you would like. A number of constraints may drive you to select the hardware early in the design process. The most obvious is the need to use recycled hardware or similar budget constraints. Chapter 3 describes hardware ...

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