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Old   September 2, 2008, 08:39
Default cluster or workststion
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Hi everybody, I have about 10,000 euro to buy some machine to calculations and I am considering to options: cluster or workststion. Let assume that workstsion has two CPUs and cluster is two units with the same single CPU and rest of equipment is also the same. Generally I need this to calculating not to big cases (say 2,000,000 nodes) so the main purpose is to gain the shortest time of calculations. I got to know that, more or less, comparable performance from cluster (on PC components) I can obtain for half of this price. Does anybody have some experience in this matter? Regards
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Old   September 2, 2008, 18:39
Default Re: cluster or workststion
Glenn Horrocks
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Some important points:

AMD CPUs give local parallel efficiencies about 80% and usually above 90%.

Current Intel CPUs give equivalent local parallel efficiencies around the 80-90% mark providing you only use one core on a chip (that means one core on a dual core, two cores on a quad core). If you use both cores on an intel chip your parallel efficiency drops significantly, 50-60% is common.

The serial speed of high-end Intel chips is better than the best AMD chips. See and look under the CPU2006 benchmarks, specifically the floating point ones.

Small clusters give good speedups generally, often 80-90% even only on gigabit ethernet networks. Clusters bigger than about 8 processes need to start thinking about higher end networks such as infiniband, myrinet etc.

The best price/performance ratio for small clusters (less than 8 processors) is currently a cluster of high-end Intel CPUs, where the CPU is only half loaded (1 process on a dual core, 2 processes on a quad core).

In conclusion, don't skimp on the hardware. If you are on commercial licenses the cost of the hardware is a fraction of the software so get the best hardware you can to make the most of the large investment in software.

Glenn Horrocks
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