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General discussion

Pooling computer resources?

by satish_997 / June 1, 2008 3:09 PM PDT

Is it even possible to pool several computers' resources, not just the files on hard drives but even cpu power and ram, together on a network? I ask because we have several extremely old Windows computers XP that separate are practically useless but, if there somehow connected to work in harmony with each other, could prove of some value. Is there some term or phrase I can google that could give me more info?

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Grid computing ...
by Kees Bakker / June 1, 2008 5:51 PM PDT

is what this is called. But you won't be able to do it with your normal stock OS.

You can find a very good example in google server farms, for example. Recently I read that to handle one search request, 700 to 1000 machines are doing something.

Kees

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It's possible
by Jimmy Greystone / June 2, 2008 12:03 AM PDT

It's possible, and it goes by many different names... Clustering, grid computing, cloud computing... All different approaches to doing the same thing. The catch is that it's not worth it unless you have a few dozen systems to tie together, and some program that needs some serious number crunching power. It's also not an easy thing to configure, and if you want to use Windows to do it, it won't be cheap either. It's a nice idea, but reality tends to intrude.

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what about Linux?
by satish_997 / June 2, 2008 1:55 AM PDT
In reply to: It's possible

Thanks so much for all your info! I'll look into this more later. You were saying that this wouldn't be cheap if I plan to use Windows. What about Linux though? Could that work? If so, which distro would be the best?

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Clustering works the same
by Porch-a-Geese / June 2, 2008 1:59 AM PDT
In reply to: what about Linux?

Redhat would be the best distro for this.
Debian has the redhat cluster modules available.
However, stick with Redhat.

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Redhat it is!
by satish_997 / June 2, 2008 2:04 AM PDT

Thanks!

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I need to add this.
by Porch-a-Geese / June 2, 2008 2:24 AM PDT
In reply to: Redhat it is!

Rehat has a pricetag on it- this is for support not the OS. However, they will be able to help you setup the clustering environment.
If you want to go with a no cost but are willing to learn, try the Beowulf option listed on this thread.

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It can be done
by Jimmy Greystone / June 2, 2008 2:20 AM PDT
In reply to: what about Linux?

It can be done, and on the cheap with Linux... But only if ALL systems were running Linux. And even then, the program generally has to be written to be able to take advantage of this. Not many would likely fit the bill. GCC is about the only one I can think of off the top of my head.

Another problem, is I'm reasonably certain, though not completely, that all systems have to be of identical configuration. Meaning you can't chain together some old Pentium 3 collecting dust in your basement with your brand new Core 2 Duo system to get an extra couple hundred MHz boost. You could chain together two, 1GHz P3 systems, or more, but you couldn't combine a 2GHz Pentium 4 with a 1GHz Pentium 3 to effectively get a 3GHz system.

I'm not absolutely positive on the above, so if someone knows differently they are free to correct me. However, I wouldn't go getting my hopes up of that happening.

Anyway, if you want to know more try typing in something like "beowolf cluster" into Google and start reading.

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Clustering does not require identical systems ...
by Edward ODaniel / June 2, 2008 7:50 AM PDT
In reply to: It can be done

and one could actually have a mix of widely varied processors BUT the headache of locating specific bottlenecks is a good sound reason to keep the mix to a minimum.

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I stand corrected
by Jimmy Greystone / June 2, 2008 8:40 AM PDT

I stand corrected then. Now that I've learned something new for the day, I can go party.

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will do!
by satish_997 / June 2, 2008 9:50 AM PDT
In reply to: It can be done

Thanks so much for the info! I'll go check out Beowolf clusters now.

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