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

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Chapter 3. Cluster Hardware

It is tempting to let the hardware dictate the architecture of your cluster. However, unless you are just playing around, you should let the potential uses of the cluster dictate its architecture. This in turn will determine, in large part, the hardware you use. At least, that is how it works in ideal, parallel universes.

In practice, there are often reasons why a less ideal approach might be necessary. Ultimately, most of them boil down to budgetary constraints. First-time clusters are often created from recycled equipment. After all, being able to use existing equipment is often the initial rationale for creating a cluster. Perhaps your cluster will need to serve more than one purpose. Maybe you are just exploring the possibilities. In some cases, such as learning about clusters, selecting the hardware first won’t matter too much.

If you are building a cluster using existing, cast-off computers and have a very limited budget, then your hardware selection has already been made for you. But even if this is the case, you will still need to make a number of decisions on how to use your hardware. On the other hand, if you are fortunate enough to have a realistic budget to buy new equipment or just some money to augment existing equipment, you should begin by carefully considering your goals. The aim of this chapter is to guide you through the basic hardware decisions and to remind you of issues you might overlook. For more detailed information on PC hardware, ...

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