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EGSC HPCC Hardware
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.
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.
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:
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.