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In this paper, we present a novel twist on the Beowulf cluster - the Bladed Beowulf. Designed by RLX Technologies and integrated and configured at Los Alamos National Laboratory, our Bladed Beowulf consists of compute nodes made from commodity off-the-shelf parts mounted on motherboard blades measuring 14.7" × 4.7" × 0.58". Each motherboard blade (node) contains a 633 MHz Trans-meta TM5600™ CPU, 256 MB memory, 10 GB hard disk, and three 100-Mb/s Fast Ethernet network interfaces. Using a chassis provided by RLX, twenty-four such nodes mount side-by-side in a vertical orientation to fit in a rack-mountable 3U space, i.e., 19" in width and 5.25" in height. A Bladed Beowulf can reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) of a traditional Beowulf by a factor of three while providing Beowulf-like performance. Accordingly, rather than use the traditional definition of price-performance ratio where price is the cost of acquisition, we introduce a new metric called ToPPeR: total price-performance ratio, where total price encompasses TCO. We also propose two related (but more concrete) metrics: performance-space ratio and performance-power ratio.
Date of Conference: 2002