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10 Years of Beowulf Clustering

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  • Strange... (Score:5, Funny)

    by PapayaSF (721268) on Saturday August 07, 2004 @11:57PM (#9911704) Journal
    ...it feels like I've been reading Beowulf cluster jokes on Slashdot for longer than that....
  • Imagine a beowolf cluster of x

    Couldn't resist.

    Next up the 10th aniversary of the
    1. xxx
    2. ?
    3. PROFIT!

    model of buisness.
  • Oh Lord.. (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 07, 2004 @11:57PM (#9911707)
    Might as well have posted "Hey, practice your cliche overuse in here!"
  • by Quattro Vezina (714892) on Saturday August 07, 2004 @11:58PM (#9911712) Journal
    I, for one, welcome our new beowulf cluster overlords.
  • In pointing out Beowulf clustering, I might have started the "Imagine a Beowulf cluster..." catchphrase.

    I'm somewhat sorry.
    Now go and cluster something.

  • Finally!! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kb9vcr (127764)
    I was just thinking, we never talk about beowolf custers anymore!!

    I wonder, can we beowolf custer a beowulf cluster?! ;)
    • Re:Finally!! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by CoolGuySteve (264277) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @12:24AM (#9911822)
      I wonder, can we beowolf custer a beowulf cluster?! ;)

      You might be interested in grid computing, in which a group of academics with heads too big for their common good decide not to build one fucking huge computer in one place, but instead spend all their grant money on fiber transceivers and other equipment that can transfer at a few dozen GBit between far less powerful clusters. Whenever you see a grid built with modern equipment (rather than one that strings together a few older machines), it means the people involved at some level were playing politics so that they could 'me too' their department into owning a piece of it.

      I once watched some of this process in motion, which helped to smack down a far more sensical and quite impressive machine proposal, and found the whole thing to be entirely retarded.
      • Re:Finally!! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by samhalliday (653858)
        You might be interested in grid computing, in which a group of academics with heads too big for their common good

        you seem to have overlooked the fact that these people are indeed academics... the people who push boundaries and bring about new ways of doing things. grid computing isn't working now, but when the technology is in place for it, it will be revolutionary. these kind of ideas don't work first time round, and certainly don't fix themselves overnight.

        your ignorance to the sheer amount of informatio

  • by FunWithHeadlines (644929) on Saturday August 07, 2004 @11:59PM (#9911720) Homepage
    Ah, finally, a story where all those 'imagine a Beowulf cluster of...' comments actually would be ON TOPIC! Naturally that means there won't be that many, other than comments such as this one that is commenting on such comments...a meta-comment about Beowulf clusters. Speaking of which, can you imagine a meta-cluster...oh never mind...
  • At Last (Score:5, Funny)

    by Spencerian (465343) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @12:02AM (#9911731) Homepage Journal
    Imagine a Slashdot topic full of Beowulf clusters...
  • by pyrrhonist (701154) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @12:07AM (#9911754)
    Okay, now imagine a Beowulf cluster of Beowulf cluster anniversaries. Oh, man, I just blew my mind!
  • Sad (Score:3, Funny)

    by maelstrom (638) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @12:08AM (#9911758) Homepage Journal
    The blurb doesn't explain what a beowulf cluster is, but explains what the origin of the name is. Are slashdot readers that ignorant?

    • Re:Sad (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Sunday August 08, 2004 @12:40AM (#9911865) Homepage Journal
      [shrug] Different standards for ignorance; most people would recognize the origin of the name*, but wouldn't have any idea what a B. cluster is. And by /. standards, that's igorance. I'm a believer in the "one culture," myself -- if you don't recognize either, there's a serious gap in your knowledge.

      *I may be giving "most people" too much credit, of course.
      • A serious gap if you don't know what a Beowulf cluster is? Taking things a bit far, aren't you? Or are you just talking about /.ers? If som then I guess you're right...
    • Of course not. We know what a beowulf cluster is.

      But just imagine what you could do with a beowulf cluster of ignorant slashdot readers....
      • But just imagine what you could do with a beowulf cluster of ignorant slashdot readers....

        Nothing?
        • "But just imagine what you could do with a beowulf cluster of ignorant slashdot readers....

          Nothing?"

          But damned if we wouldnt get it done fast.

          Reminds me of the linus quote about executing infinite loops faster than other operating systems
      • Er... produce content typical of any Slashdot post?.... Yea
      • by Sparr0 (451780)
        But just imagine what you could do with a beowulf cluster of ignorant slashdot readers....

        This? [slashdot.org]
    • Re:Sad (Score:4, Informative)

      by NotAJock (803669) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @12:54AM (#9911908)
      Becuase of your low UID, I'm guessing that you aren't asking what a Beowulf cluster is - so you're right on the mark with your comment. So for those Slashdotters who don't actually know what a Beowulf cluster is, here's my blurb (feel free to add/subtract/etc - this is paraphrased from a longer piece I wrote some time ago):


      Beowulf aims at minimizing computation time. One option for reducing the processing time of a program is to divide it into independent sub-tasks that can be processed by different CPUs. When the results of these sub-tasks are available, they can be returned to one of the processors for final processing. It is possible to use Ethernet transfers to extend this strategy across multiple computers. This is how Beowulf works: divide programs into many parts that are executed by many CPUs all of which transfer their data and instructions via Ethernet.

    • by ErichTheWebGuy (745925) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @01:12AM (#9911959) Homepage
      Imagine a beowulf cluster of people telling you to RTFA!

      Seriously though, the linked article goes into a lot of detail about what a beowulf cluster is.
    • by SuperQ (431) *
      yep.. it's funny any time some noob wants to talk about clustering, they start with beowulf. I recently attended a clustering summit in minneapolis, and I did't think I heard the term Beowulf used even once. We discussed things like clustering filesystems, HPC vs. HA clusters, and we had a great talk on http://openssi.org/ and samba clustering.

      I have yet to see anyone actualy using Beowulf.
    • The blurb doesn't explain what a beowulf cluster is, but explains what the origin of the name is. Are slashdot readers that ignorant?

      About Old English literature? You bet, at least a substantial number of them are. And you'll find lit students who know all about Hrunting and Grendel's Mom, but are equally clueless about system clustering.

      An aside to Lord-of-the-Rings-loving geeks: Tolkein was a scholar of Beowulf, and drew substantial inspiration from it. It isn't as easy a read as Tolkein (even in a

    • Are slashdot readers that ignorant?
      You're new here, aren't you?
  • by morcheeba (260908) * on Sunday August 08, 2004 @12:15AM (#9911796) Journal
    In 1995, I put together an animation of a satellite [sstl.co.uk] my company was working on. I used POVray running on DOS, and wrote a little pair of programs that would hand off render-jobs to different computers. I used 16 computers (mostly P60's) lying around the office to render about 400 frames total. The whole job took about 35 hours of wall time, which was important because I had only three 1/2 days to tweak my small demo & make a final rendering.

    I didn't know network programming, so all communication was through read/writing a few networked control files. One acted as a semaphore - if you had sucessfully written your computer ID to it, you could modify the main to-do-list file. One specialized computer was assigned the task of copying the finshed files onto my new 810MB laptop's hard drive; otherwise the file server didn't have enough space for all the .TGA files.

    It was a fun project & I've got it included on my resume. Today it sounds kindof trivial, so I've had to explain that general-purpose clustering tools weren't available then. I guess Beouwulf beat me to it by a year (and a zillion-fold on capability), so I was wrong. Information travelled so much slower those days...
    • I'm not sure when it was written, but DQS (the distributed queueing system) was around in 1996, and I don't believe it was especially new then. this document [216.239.41.104] alleges that the whole clustering thing began at NASA in 1994. Apparently FSU developed DQS [fsu.edu] starting in 1992 [fsu.edu] but I don't know when the first release was.

      I used to work for a company called silicon engineering in scotts valley, ca - formerly sequoia semiconductor and last I heard they were part of creative labs called creative silicon or something. We used DQS to schedule jobs for IC simulation for testing.

      Of course, DQS doesn't work on DOS, it's a Unix-type program. For anything that can be batched (like rendering frames in POVray) it can be amazingly slick and it takes relatively little configuration. It has a keen little program that watches when your system is idle and signals the queue master to feed it jobs, which is an X client. Using DQS and the berkeley automounter it was possible to easily submit jobs and not care where they ran, for instance we had the paths set up such that the same commands worked on SunOS4 and SunOS5 so verilog was always in the same place, et cetera.

      DQS also has a parallel make utility, which I never used, because I hardly ever compiled anything. :)

      • this document [216.239.41.104] alleges that the whole clustering thing began at NASA in 1994.

        They must be talking about Beowulf in specific; clustering in general definitely goes back further than that. For example, I know that DEC was clustering Vaxen back in the 1980's. (I remember hearing in those days that CompuServe operated on a Vax cluster.)

  • the cliche is the story!
  • Beowulf - the name (Score:5, Informative)

    by NotAJock (803669) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @12:22AM (#9911818)
    Just because I'm an English (the language) geek, here's the lowdown on the name 'Beowulf':

    The Beowulf poem is the oldest known epic in the Anglo-Saxon language (that's like, early english). It's about the life of a king of the "Geats" called Beowulf. It starts off as him as a young rash figher and follows through to his death after fighting a dragon.

    Damn great story - there's probably loads of online texts (like this one? [everypoet.com]). The only surviving manuscript (possibly the only one ever written) is in the British Library. You can go there and see it.

    • Just because I'm an English (the language) geek, here's the lowdown on the name 'Beowulf': The Beowulf poem is the oldest known epic in the Anglo-Saxon language (that's like, early english). It's about the life of a king of the "Geats" called Beowulf. It starts off as him as a young rash figher and follows through to his death after fighting a dragon.

      Why am I not surprised that you somehow managed to include "Geatse" reference in your Beowulf cluster of those explanation? Don't even get me started o

    • Possibly the best summary of the plot of Beowulf is to be found in Terry Pratchett's Guards!Guards!

      In fact, I like it so much I am going to plead fair use and extract it.

      "Monsters are getting more uppity, too...I heard where there was this guy, he killed this monster in this lake, no problem, stuck its arm up over the door-"

      "Pour encourjay lays ortras," said one of the listeners.
      "Right, and you know what? Its mum come and complained. It's actual mum come right down to the hall next day and complained. Actu

  • LO, praise of the prowess of moderators of troll-armed Slashdotters, in days long sped, we have heard, and what honor the NASA reasearchers won!
  • by Beek (10414) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @12:27AM (#9911831) Homepage
    Once this article gets duped a few times, we'll have a Beowulf cluster of stories.
  • by Nova Express (100383) <lawrenceperson.gmail@com> on Sunday August 08, 2004 @12:35AM (#9911850) Homepage Journal
    I am given to understand that the name came not firsthand from the epic poem, but second-hand via Niven, Pournelle & Barnes' SF novel The Legacy of Hereot. In it were some big, nasty monsters they dubbed "grendels," which they then proceeded to wipe, only to find out that the adult form was what was keeping the numbers of the immature form under control, resulting in a massed attacked by thousands of "baby grendels." I remember reading that this was what inspired the Beowulf name in a FAQ several years ago. Anyone know if it's true?

    • In it were some big, nasty monsters they dubbed "grendels," which they then proceeded to wipe, only to find out that the adult form was what was keeping the numbers of the immature form under control, resulting in a massed attacked by thousands of "baby grendels."

      For anyone who doesn't know the original story, this is pleasingly ironic. Beowulf defeated the monster Grendel, ripped its arm off and hung it up as a trophy. Grendel goes home and dies of his injuries, and his mother promptly goes off to hunt d

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 08, 2004 @12:42AM (#9911873)
    That's it. Every one of you boneheads is now my enemy.
  • by buffy (8100) *
    Quirk writes "Wired News has a blurb celebrating the 10th birthday of the Beowulf cluster. Attendees recalled the initial fear and loathing the Beowulf project had to overcome. The Beowulf project takes its name from an epic poem penned circa 1000 A.D."

    Attendees of what, exactly? The blurb? I've never attended a blurb. Can you build a beowulf of them?? Sigh. -buf

    • The /. summary is just a summary. It makes more sense if you RTFA.
      . . . attendees at a party held Wednesday night in San Francisco to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Beowulf and to unveil the newly redesigned Beowulf project website.
      • No shit, Sherlock. However, proper english is helpful in making a somewhat useful summary don't you think?

        -buf
  • by veg_all (22581) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @12:47AM (#9911888)
    A quick and sloppy google suggests that this [slashdot.org] is the first "imagine a..." comment (bottom of the page), though it's possible that the joke predates google search capability since Beowolf clusters and slashdot are both older than google. Still, the fact that it's not used as a joke, and the fact that it got a 1 rating (while, inexplicably, all those repeat jokes get modded to the stratosphere these days) lends an air of authenticity to the claim, lacadasical though the research may be.
    • More to the point, this comment [slashdot.org] seems to be the one, from February of 1999.

      Where were *you* on 25 February 1999?

      p
      • This one [slashdot.org] was posted in January 1999. Note that the replies are mostly along the line "Dude, that makes no sense", rather than "Enough already with all these stupid Beowulf comments!"
        Where were *you* on 25 February 1999?
        Why, right here, reading Slashdot! It's so sad.
    • > Still, the fact that it's not used as a joke, and the fact that it got a 1 rating (while, inexplicably, all those repeat jokes get modded to the stratosphere these days) lends an air of authenticity to the claim, lacadasical though the research may be.

      Actually, it's likely that comment was probably posted before the rating system came about, seeing as all the other comments on the story are also Score 1.
    • So SCO is responsible for the first "imagine a Beowulf cluster..." joke, too.

      I wonder if they are going to claim it as their IP, and sue thousands of /. posters?
  • Beowulf (Score:3, Informative)

    by Mahtan (794918) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @12:48AM (#9911889)
    Beowulf was a poem Tolkien really liked. A lotta the Rohirrim are based off of it.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...does anyone even still USE these any more; what with the low cost of high-end software and developments in SMP technology; aren't clusters very much out of date?
  • I tried to search out the first time someone said "Imagine a Beowulf cluster of ..." (actually I left out the of ... when I did the search). but I can only do 30 answers at a time, and since the information I want is going to be at the last page. I am not going to sit here and keep hitting next 30 until I get there. Sorry, I'm playing ZangbandTK, or Planescape: Torment. None, of the repetitious clicking for me.

    hmm, haven't played Diablo 2 in awhile...

  • No apology.
    -russ
  • Happy Birthday (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by simontek2 (523795)
    Happy Birthday to you, Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday Beowolf Cluster!
  • by danny (2658) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @01:08AM (#9911948) Homepage
    The top result on a Google search for "beowulf" is about clustering, but 8 of the top 10 are about the epic. And I doubt there'll ever be nearly as many books and articles written about the clustering system as about the poem.

    Danny.

    • Writing begets writing. Every literary flea has literary fleas on its back (did Pope say that?). But computer science begets computers. Stuff that really works doesn't need a mountain of commentary, though it could probably benefit from a decent manual.
  • The Year? (Score:2, Informative)

    by swingerman (29475)
    "...name from an epic poem penned circa 1000 A.D."
    That should be A.D. 1000. A.D. means "Anno Domini", Latin for "in the year of Our Lord", and should properly *precede* the year. B.C., on the other hand means "Before Christ" and properly *follows* the year.
    • I quote:

      "AD - abbrev. - Anno Domini (placed after a date, indicating that it comes the specified number of years after the traditional date of Christ's birth).
      ORIGIN L. 'in the year of the Lord'."
      (source: Oxford Dictionary, Tenth Edition; emphasis added)

      BC is also placed after a date.
      • Well yeah, but can you honestly ignore this historic document [wikipedia.org]?

        In A.D. 2101 War was beginning.

        If Zero Wing says it, it must be true...

      • Yeah, well my centuries of standard usage can beat up your dictionary. :P It looks like poor proofreading at Oxford, because I'm sure they know better. Check any other lexicon and they'll specify that "A.D." ordinarily goes before the number. Go look at the inscriptions on some cornerstones, or some ancient manuscripts, and you'll see this confirmed.

        "Anno Domini 2004" ("in the Year of the Lord 2004") tells you that we're talking about the 2004th year of Jesus' Lordship. "2004 in the Year of the Lord" i

        • "While it is increasingly common to place AD after a date, by analogy to the use of BC, formal English usage adheres to the traditional practice of placing the abbreviation before the year, as in Latin (e.g., 5 BC, but AD 3)."
          (Source: Wikipedia [wikipedia.org])

          There's a reason why the Oxford Dictionary calls itself "the foremost authority on current English" :)

          No idea why the formal usage of AD wasn't included, though.
  • Wow (Score:4, Funny)

    by Pan T. Hose (707794) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @01:19AM (#9911978) Homepage Journal
    I just imagined it...
  • Imagine (Score:5, Funny)

    by Waffle Iron (339739) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @01:38AM (#9912008)
    Imagine there's a cluster
    Of 64 G5s
    Or 128 Opterons
    Between them only CAT5
    Imagine all the boxen
    Benching Quake FPS...

    Imagine no shared memory
    It isn't hard to do
    Nothing to spinlock or thrash for
    No cache coherence too
    Imagine all the boxen
    Crunching local tasks...

    Imagine there's no mainframes
    I wonder if you can
    No need for Crays or S/390s
    A cluster loosely bound
    Imagine all the boxen
    Sharing all the LAN...

    You may say that I'm a uniprocessor
    But I'm not the only one
    I hope someday you'll join us
    And we'll simulate nukes as one

    • Terriffic! and whats more impressive (at least according to Google) original!!! when I next have mod points I'll track down one of your posts and mod it up!.

  • That's what the Beowulf project has created (besides way too many /. jokes =) ).

    Imagine clustering hundreds to thousands of identical computers together to do heavy-duty computational work at a cost far below that of a dedicated supercomputer--that's what Beowulf clustering has made possible. Why do you think a lot of biotech companies are using large-scale Beowulf cluster setups to do DNA simulation?

    Also, it has created a market for rack-mounted small server machines called blade servers where you can pu
  • by Anonymous Coward
    El Cid

    Check it out, yo.

    http://www.legends.dm.net/paladins/cid.html
    htt p://www.google.com/search?q=el+cid+campeador
  • Question (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ErikZ (55491) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @02:28AM (#9912106)
    One thing that the article mentions, but doesn't get into. That scientists were hostile to the concept at first.

    Can anyone who was around at the time shed some light on this?
    • Re:Question (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 08, 2004 @04:28AM (#9912320)
      I happen to know Dr. Sterling, I worked with him at CACR/Caltech. To answer your question, from what I heard and so on:

      1. commodity hardware had some serious problems back then compared to today (so did big iron but that was always hush-hush and part of the mystique of running on big iron), and the software was a lot rougher, did less compared to the commercial Unixes, etc.

      2. Running on big iron was, well, not only accepted, but sexy, it was the thing to do. to be able to say you are running your code on the new super fast SGI, Intel or IBM is much more uber (at the time anyway) than to say yeah we ran it on a bunch of desktop PCs in a cluster. Took awhile for the non-computer tinkerer scientists to accept the whole thing.

      3. Even today, some jobs run better on a shared memory big iron machine than parallelized out on a
      cluster using message passing. That was true then, also.

      4. Scientists don't always think of a very scalable (i.e. increasingly faster potentially) thing like a cluster as good. Gone are the days where you can start a run and disappear to go mountain climbing or sailing for two weeks. At best a long simulation (or portion thereof) buys you a long weekend. The faster the number-crunching goes the more work you have to do, the more results are expected faster, etc, etc. A vicious circle really. If this concept shocks you, pretend grants, academia and all of it has no politics, only wonderful breakneck pursuit of fact and conquering new horizons...

      That's just my take. Oh yeah, and highly unlikely to get funding or donations back then from the big companies of equipment to build a cheap alternative to their flagship HPC products... They didn't exactly encourage that sort of thing.

  • When the beowulf clust hits it's 100th anniversary?

    I'm kinda off-base here, aren't?

  • by actor_au (562694) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @03:50AM (#9912253) Homepage
    I would like to apologise first off for creating this monster.
    I did it out of boredom more than anything else a long time back..

    Its only the first three verses' however, I wasn't insane enough to do the whole thing.

    D00d u no Cl4n Danish?
    Cpl 98, 99
    Th3y b l33t
    [danish]Shield < [danish]sheaf
    pwnd in Q3 & C$
    Romero was like "D00d??! WTF?"
    Bcase he w4z working solo.
    He wez top of teh ladder
    and teh Chatroom was like
    "D00d??! WTF?"
    He pwnz

    [danish]shield N3\/\/ a n00b
    T0ok nOOb to clan danish
    n00b was fr0n CowboyNeil
    k3pt the Cl4n as 1
    M4de them > l33t
    [danish]grain w4a his 'nic
    He was l33t.
    in the CPL
    4ll n00bs shuld l34rn
    Spread the lewt
    when u are a noob
    so wh3n ur 19
    teh clan wi1l still restecpt U
    wh3n j00 at w4r
    a man is l33t
    if he is k00l
    on any of teh servers(xsept teh telstra 1s)

    [danish]shield was pwnd after his 19th
    w3nt to uni stoned but still with l33t
    teh clan danish gave him pr0n
    which was sw33t
    1n his gargae sat
    a l33t machin3
    old-school but built 4 teh road
    There [danish]shield slept
    next 2 teh handbrake
    surrounded by teh pr0n
    russ4n, german and teh japanes
    teh Cl4n watched teh car leave
    a shitbox it was
    filled with the lewt
    and teh goatse mails and gifs
    4 teh long wait till uni
    he was without a gfx card
    he w4s liek a n00b
    wh3n he left teh clan
    A l4mer n00b
    teh clan put a bumper sticker on his c4r
    Goatse it procle.. proclaine... said.
    teh clan l3t him le4ve
    a|\|D 3 teh uni he went
    teh most l33t in teh clan
    don't no what uni is liek

    I feel unclean now.
  • Wow (Score:3, Funny)

    by Dachannien (617929) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @05:45AM (#9912453)
    Attendees recalled the initial fear and loathing the Beowulf project had to overcome.

    And now, "Beowulf" is a term synonymous with the most downmodded /. joke of all time.

    You've come a long way, baby.

  • Given the development of kernel-level clustering such as OpenMosix, is there any point in implementing a 'traditional' Beowulf any more?

Do not simplify the design of a program if a way can be found to make it complex and wonderful.

Working...