ClusterMonkey.net: The Beowulf mailing list provides detailed discussions about issues concerning Linux HPC clusters. In this article I review some postings to the Beowulf list on clusters of bare motherboards and choosing a high-speed interconnect.
Beowulf of Bare Motherboards?
The experimental, entrepreneurial spirit for clusters is alive and well! On Sept. 27, 2004, Andrew Pisorski asked about putting some bare motherboards on metal racks by directly attaching them to the racks in some fashion. Even though Andrew didn't mention it, the goals of projects such as these, are to reduce costs (no cases) and increase the density for little or no cost (blade servers from vendors are fairly pricey). Jack Wathey responded that in late 2003, he built a cluster with bare motherboards attached to metal shelves but the motherboards were mounted to aluminum sheets. He attached the motherboards using nylon standoffs. He also said that Ken Chase had done something similar by packing the motherboards close together with no shielding between them in a Plexiglas case. He said that Ken had some problems because the boards had some radio frequency interference between them and some would not boot. He as also worried about the risk of fire with so much wood and plastic near high power components.
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