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Old 2010-12-31, 05:20   #1
ixfd64
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Default are blade servers good for number crunching?

Does anyone know if blade servers would make a good number crunching farm? Many modern blades can support up to four processors, which is a lot of computing power. In addition, blade servers have a modular design, meaning that a large number of them can be stored in a relatively small space.

Server chips do tend to be very expensive, but I think it's possible to replace them with their consumer counterparts, provided that the sockets match.

Would a rack of blade servers be beneficial for number crunching, particularly GIMPS work?
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Old 2010-12-31, 05:49   #2
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Yes, of course they are good for number crunching. They are just CPUs and memory and whatnot like a basic desktop. I'm rather surprised you needed to ask actually.

However they usually do have one really really good advantage that makes them more suitable for things like Mersenne finding, they often have ECC. So for long term tests, like one year or more, this is a huge step up and provides much better chance of an accurate test result.
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Old 2010-12-31, 06:19   #3
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We read somewhere that a row (?) of blade servers needs a dedicated power circuit. We have no idea how much current a whole rack would pull.

And then you need to factor in the air conditioning.
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Old 2010-12-31, 09:54   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ixfd64 View Post
Does anyone know if blade servers would make a good number crunching farm?
Not really; the price/performance ratio is generally significantly worse than desktop machines in standard desktop cases, and you probably don't want to pay for enough electricity to run a farm that is inconveniently physically large when composed of standard desktop machines.

If you can find blade servers on eBay which are capable of being upgraded to credible performance, and (importantly - a new chassis will be extravagently expensive) a chassis for them, you have discovered a company with a somewhat daft IT procurement department, and you might as well use them.

Quote:
Server chips do tend to be very expensive, but I think it's possible to replace them with their consumer counterparts, provided that the sockets match
Intel and AMD have gone to some effort to make this impossible with current-generation hardware, particularly in the multi-socket space.
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Old 2010-12-31, 10:04   #5
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About a year ago I was offered three aged blades for free by a friend.

After looking at the specs and pondering for an hour, I've cleverly punted them to some organisation who have (I think) put them to a very good use (even if taken them for parts).
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Old 2010-12-31, 16:49   #6
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That entire project is being run from one of them. Another is running the Dept website, and the third is for parts.
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Old 2011-01-01, 01:59   #7
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I talked to my uncle Don (who is an experienced computer technician), and he said that it's generally not possible to replace a server CPU with a consumer CPU (the computer will not work otherwise).

However, is there such a thing as a "blade computer" - that is, one that has the physical design of a blade server but uses consumer chips instead?
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Old 2011-01-01, 02:26   #8
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There are some hybrid boards - usually called a "workstation class"; something between a server and a desktop. You can set them in a box, or in a blade.

Here's an example that I was looked at for a while... salivating... or not.


P.S. ...Or rather that was not addressing your question; here's the right answer: here's one that takes a Xeon and ECC memory or and i3 with non-ECC memory. ...Or is it?
Ugh, anyway: Last time I looked was a year ago. Now I cannot find the boards I was looking at, so I shot here twice in the dark. Browse Newegg, there's some entertaining and food-for-though stuff there.

Last fiddled with by Batalov on 2011-01-01 at 02:46 Reason: /shooting in the dark is not a good thing/
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Old 2011-01-01, 03:19   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Batalov View Post
P.S. ...Or rather that was not addressing your question; here's the right answer: here's one that takes a Xeon and ECC memory or and i3 with non-ECC memory. ...Or is it?
Ugh, anyway: Last time I looked was a year ago. Now I cannot find the boards I was looking at, so I shot here twice in the dark. Browse Newegg, there's some entertaining and food-for-though stuff there.
Yeah, I was looking for something like that. Unfortunately, it only seems to support one processor. I guess the only way to get multiple processors in a single blade would be to shell out a lot of money for those expensive server chips. Of course, this will probably all change once George adds GPU support to Prime95.
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Old 2011-11-02, 23:18   #10
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Sorry for necroposting, but it seems that "blade computers" do exist. For example, here is a 8-blade system that accepts Core i3 chips. It's a shame that they only go up to two cores, though.

By the way, I have another question. I've always been under the impression each node/blade in a cluster runs one instance of an operating system. However, I've also heard of cases in which an operation system is scaled to multiple blades (such as in the HP Integrity Superdome). So is it generally possible to configure multiple blades to act as one computer, or does it depend on the blade?

Last fiddled with by ixfd64 on 2011-11-02 at 23:24
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Old 2011-11-02, 23:40   #11
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Generally, because blades are loosely coupled (even if you pay for expensive infiniband hardware), each blade would run its own copy of the operating system. Not that meta-OS's don't exist.
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