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EGSC HPCC Hardware

Hardware summary

The EGSC High-Performance Computing Cluster, or Beowulf, consists of 18 interconnected nodes: 16 work nodes; one Master Control Node (also known as the Worldly Node); and one adjunct node used primarily for writing data to DVD discs. As used here, the term node means a commodity computer system just like any common personal computer. The Worldly Node is so called because it is the only one of the 18 nodes directly connected to the Internet; it has two network interface cards (NIC's): one is connected to the Internet through the local area network (LAN) of the USGS National Center in Reston, Virginia; the other is connected to the EGSC HPCC's private Gigabit Ethernet network. The Worldly Node provides address translation services for the other 17 nodes so they can communicate indirectly with hosts on the National Center LAN and on the Internet. In effect, the 17 internal nodes of the EGSC HPCC can "see out" of their private network to LAN and Internet hosts, but those hosts can not "see in" to the 17 HPCC internal nodes.

Work Nodes

The following table summarizes the current hardware configuration for each of the sixteen work nodes. Each entry includes a link to a more detailed description of node hardware.

Node
Number
Processor
Type
RAM
Amount
Hard-Disk
Space
Latest Upgrade
Date
01 Intel Core® 2 Duo processor (dual-core 64-bit operating at 2.40 GHz) 4.0GB as two pairs of 800 MHz DDR-2 DIMM's 500GB April 5, 2008
02 Intel Core® 2 Duo processor (dual-core 64-bit operating at 2.40 GHz) 4.0GB as two pairs of 800 MHz DDR-2 DIMM's 500GB April 4, 2008
03 Intel Core® 2 Duo processor (dual-core 64-bit operating at 2.40 GHz) 4.0GB as two pairs of 800 MHz DDR-2 DIMM's 580GB April 3, 2008
04 AMD Athlon® 64 X2 6000+ processor ( dual-core 64-bit operating at 3.0 GHz) 4.0GB as two pairs of 800 MHz DDR-2 DIMM's 580GB April 1, 2008
05 AMD Athlon® 64 X2 6000+ processor ( dual-core 64-bit operating at 3.0 GHz) 4.0GB as two pairs of 800 MHz DDR-2 DIMM's 580GB March 27, 2008
06 AMD Athlon® x64 Dual-Core 4200+ 4GB as four PC3200 DDR DIMM's 160GB March 21, 2007
07 AMD Athlon® x64 Dual-Core 4200+ 4GB as four PC3200 DDR DIMM's 400GB February 27, 2007
08 AMD Athlon® x64 Dual-Core 4200+ 4GB as four PC3200 DDR DIMM's 400GB February 27, 2007
09 AMD Athlon® x64 Dual-Core 4200+ 4GB as four PC3200 DDR DIMM's 400GB September 8, 2006
10 AMD Athlon® x64 Dual-Core 4200+ 4GB as four PC3200 DDR DIMM's 400GB February 28, 2007
11 AMD Athlon® x64 Dual-Core 4200+ 4GB as four PC3200 DDR DIMM's 400GB February 23, 2007
12 AMD Athlon® x64 Dual-Core 4200+ 4GB as four PC3200 DDR DIMM's 400GB March 19, 2007
13 Intel Pentium® D Processor 950 (Dual-core 3.4GHz) 4GB as four PC4000 DDR2 DIMM's 320GB February 21, 2007
14 Intel Pentium® D Processor 950 (Dual-core 3.4GHz) 4GB as four PC4000 DDR2 DIMM's 320GB February 21, 2007
15 Intel Pentium® D Processor 950 (Dual-core 3.4GHz) 4GB as four PC4000 DDR2 DIMM's 320GB February 20, 2007
16 Intel Pentium® D Processor 950 (Dual-core 3.4GHz) 4GB as four PC4000 DDR2 DIMM's 820GB February 20, 2007

The HPCC is an heterogeneous cluster. There are three different processor models distributed among the 16 work nodes: five Athlon® 2100+ (32-bit single-core) processors; seven Athlon® 4200+ 64-bit dual core processors; and four Pentium® D Processor 950 64-bit dual-core processors. Although this heterogeneity has the disadvantage of complicating load balancing, it has the advantage of affording opportunities to assign different jobs to the processors best suited to handle their particular instruction mixes. Athlon® processors generally perform more operations per clock (cycle) than comparable Pentium® processors and provide high throughput for certain kinds of integer and floating-point computations. Pentium® processors, however, are faster than Athlons® for many commonly encountered instruction mixes and for certain other kinds of floating-point computations. For practical purposes, the best way to determine the best processor for a job is to test a typical run on different processors and then to use the processor which gave the best results for the production runs.

Master Control Node

The Master Control Node (Worldly Node) of the EGSC HPCC, unlike the HPCC work nodes, is configured for communications and control rather than for dedicated computation. It includes the following components:

  • Desktop case with power supply
  • Dell® Precision motherboard with 512K/800 front-side bus
  • Intel Pentium® 4 3.0 GHz processor
  • 2.0GB total RAM as 4 512MB DDR333 NECC DIMM's
  • 2 120GB 7200rpm IDE fixed-disk drives
  • 1.4MB floppy disk drive
  • 16X DVD-ROM drive
  • Sony® CD-RW CRX230A CD Reader/Writer
  • USB 2.0 interface
  • LinkSys® EG1032 10/100/1000 (Gigabit) Ethernet network interface card (NIC)
  • D-Link® DL10050 10/100 Ethernet network interface card (NIC)
  • U320 SCSI adapter with external connector
  • IEEE 1394 controller card
  • nVidia® Quadro NVS 64MB graphics card

DVD-Writer Adjunct Node

The DVD-Writer Adjunct Node is a Windows™ PC equipped with a DVD±RW±R writer. This node provides simple and economical DVD-R backups.

Private Gigabit Ethernet Network

The 18 HPCC nodes are networked through three Linksys® EG0008 EtherFast 10/100/1000 8-port GigaSwitches. These three switches are interconnected by two Cat 5-e UTP crossover cables. Each of the 16 work nodes, the Master Control Node, and the DVD-writer adjunct is cabled to one of the three switches with a Cat 5-3 or Cat 6 UTP patch cable. Since each of the 18 HPCC nodes is equipped with a Gigabit-Ethernet-capable network interface card (NIC), this network setup allows communication among the 18 nodes at transfer rates substantially higher than those of the National Center LAN. Bulk transfers can move data from node to node at rates exceeding 30 megabytes per second, depending mainly on intra-node hard-disk data-transfer rates.

KVM Switch: Keyboard-Monitor-Mouse Multiplexor

In order to reduce the space and the number of cables required by the Beowulf, each of the 16 work nodes is cabled to a Belkin® KVM, a keyboard/video-monitor/mouse multiplexor. This KVM allows the 16 work nodes to share one monitor, one mouse, and one keyboard. Either a USB mouse and keyboard or a PS/2 mouse and keyboard can be used with this KVM; the EGSC Beowulf uses the PS/2 interfaces for these human-interface devices.

Schematic and Front-View Photograph

A schematic diagram illustrates the logical connections among the hardware components of the EGSC HPCC.

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