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Beowulf Clusters Matthew Doney. What is a cluster?  A cluster is a group of several computers connected  Several different methods of connecting them.

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Presentation on theme: "Beowulf Clusters Matthew Doney. What is a cluster?  A cluster is a group of several computers connected  Several different methods of connecting them."— Presentation transcript:

1 Beowulf Clusters Matthew Doney

2 What is a cluster?  A cluster is a group of several computers connected  Several different methods of connecting them  Distributed  Computers widely separated, connected over the internet  Used by research groups like SETI@home and GIMPS  Workstation Cluster  Collection of Workstations loosely connected by LAN  Cluster Farm  PC’s connected over LAN that perform work when idle

3 What is a Beowulf Cluster  A Beowulf Cluster is one class of a cluster computer  Uses Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) hardware  Typically contains both master and slave nodes  Not defined by a specific piece of hardware Image Source:

4 What is a Beowulf Cluster  The origin of the name “Beowulf”  Main character of Old English poem  Described in the poem – “he has thirty men’s heft of grasp in the gripe of his hand, the bold-in-battle”. Image Source: content/uploads/2011/06/lynd-ward-17-jnanam- dot-net.jpg

5 Cluster Computer History – 1950’s  SAGE, one of the first cluster computers  Developed by IBM for NORAD  Linked radar stations together for first early warning detection system Image Source:

6 Cluster Computer History – 1970’s  Technological Advancements  VLSI (Very Large Scale Integration)  Ethernet  UNIX Operating System

7 Cluster Computer History – 1980’s  Increased interest in cluster computing  Ex: NSA connected 160 Apollo workstations in a cluster configuration  First widely used clustering product: VAXcluster  Development of task scheduling software  Condor package developed by UW-Madison  Development of parallel programming software  PVM(Parallel Virtual Machine)

8 Cluster Computer History – 1990’s  NOW(Network of workstations) project at UC Berkeley  First cluster on TOP500 list  Development of Myrinet LAN system  Beowulf project started at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center Image Source:

9 Cluster Computer History - Beowulf  Developed by Thomas Sterling and Donald Becker  16 Individual nodes  100 MHz Intel 80486 processors  16 MB memory, 500 MB hard drive  2 10Mbps Ethernet ports  Early version of Linux  Used PVM library

10 Cluster Computer History – 1990’s  MPI standard developed  Created to be a global standard to replace existing message passing protocols  DOE, NASA, California Institute of Technology collaboration  Developed a Beowulf system with sustained performance 1 Gflops  Cost $50,000  Awarded Gordon Bell prize for price/performance  28 Clusters were on the TOP500 list by the end of the decade

11 Beowulf Cluster Advantages  Price/Performance  Using COTS hardware greatly reduces associated costs  Scalability  By using individual nodes, more can easily be added by slightly altering the network  Convergence Architecture  Using commodity hardware has standardized operating systems, instruction sets, and communication protocols  Code portability has greatly increased

12 Beowulf Cluster Advantages  Flexibility of Configuration and Upgrades  Large variety of COTS components  Standardization of COTS components allows for easy upgrades  Technology Tracking  Can use new components as soon as they come out  No delay time waiting for manufacturers to integrate components  High Availability  System will continue to run if an individual node fails

13 Beowulf Cluster Advantages  Level of Control  System is easily configured to users liking  Development Cost and Time  No special hardware needs to be designed  Less time designing system, just pick parts to be used  Cheaper mass market components

14 Beowulf Cluster Disadvantages  Programming Difficulty  Programs need to be highly parallelized to take advantage of hardware design  Distributed Memory  Program data is split over the individual nodes  Network speed can bottleneck performance  Results may need to be compiled by a single node

15 Beowulf Cluster Architecture  Master-Slave configuration  Master Node  Job scheduling  System monitoring  Resource management  Slave Node  Does assigned work  Communicates with other slave nodes  Sends results to master node

16 Node Hardware  Typically desktop PC’s  Can consist of other types of computers i.e.  Rack-mount servers  Case-less motherboards  PS3’s  RaspberryPi boards

17 Node Software  Operating System  Resource Manager  Message Passing Software

18 Resource Management Software  Condor  Developed by UW-Madison  Allows distributed job submission  PBS (Portable Batch System)  Initially developed by NASA  Developed to schedule jobs on parallel compute clusters  Maui  Adds enhanced monitoring to existing job scheduler (i.e. PBS)  Allows administrator to set individual and group job priorities

19 Sample Condor Submit File  Submits 150 copies of the program foo  Each copy of the program has its own input, output, and error message file  All of the log information from Condor goes to one file

20 Sample Maui Configuration File  User yangq will have the highest priority users of the group ART having lowest  Members of group CS_SE are limited to 20 jobs which use no more than 100 nodes

21 Sample PBS Submit File  Submits job “my_job_name” that needs 1 hour and 4 CPUs with 2GB of memory  Uses file “” as input  Uses file “my_job_name.log” as output  Uses file “my_job_name.err” as error output

22 Message Passing Software  MPI (Message Passing Interface)  Widely used in HPC community  Specification is controlled by MPI-Forum  Available for free  PVM (Parallel Virtual Machine)  First message passing protocol in be widely used  Provided for fault tolerant operation

23 MPI Hello World Example

24 MPI Hello World Example(cont)

25 PVM Hello World Example


27 Interconnection Hardware  Two main choices – technology and topology  Main Technologies  Ethernet with speeds up to 10Gbps  Infiniband with speeds up to 300 Gbps Image Source:

28 Interconnection Topology Torus Network Bus Network Flat Neighborhood Network

29 References  [1] Impagliazzo, J., & Lee, J. A. N. (2004). History of Computing in Education. Norwell: Kluwer Academic Publishers.  [2] Pfeiffer, C. (Photographer). (2006, November 25). Cray-1 Deutsches Museum [Web Photo]. Retrieved from 1-deutsches-museum.jpg 1-deutsches-museum.jpg  [3] Sterling, T. (2002). Beowulf Cluster Computing with Linux. United States of America: Massahusetts Institue of Technology.  [4] Sterling, T. (2002). Beowulf Cluster Computing with Windows. United State of America: Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  [5] Condor High Throughput Computing. (2013, October 24). Retrieved October 27, 2013, from

30 References  [6] Beowulf: A Parallel Workstation For Scientific Computation. (1995). Retrieved October 27, 2013, from icpp95.html  [7] Development over Time | TOP500 Supercomputer Sites. Retrieved October 27, 2013, from  [8] Jain, A. (2006). Beowulf cluster design and setup. Retrieved October 27, 2013. Informally published manuscript, Department of Computer Science, Boise State University, Retrieved from  [9] Zinner, S. (2012). High Performance Computing Using Beowulf Clusters. Retrieved October 27, 2013. Retrieved from

31 Questions???

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