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    Building the fastest computer(s) I can buy for 50-100K. What should I get?

    Thought this would be a nice break from all the realignment stuff. So my advisor came to me recently and tells me to price out some new computer stuff because we (our research group) got some money for it. Anything less than $50,000 will probably be accepted right away. Up to $150,000 is still probably good as well. So what should I get? I need something to run CFD simulations as fast as possible, so the more cores and RAM the better. Infiniband/Myrinet or similar for interconnect. What should I get? Specific vendors I should call for a quote? Or would I be better getting an infiniband switch and cards to connect my 4 existing workstations?


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    Re: Building the fastest computer(s) I can buy for 50-100K. What should I get?



    Whoever made this sign, can't spell getting however.



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    Re: Building the fastest computer(s) I can buy for 50-100K. What should I get?

    Commodore 64.


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    Re: Building the fastest computer(s) I can buy for 50-100K. What should I get?

    Buy a calculator. They'll never know the difference.


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    Re: Building the fastest computer(s) I can buy for 50-100K. What should I get?

    Here's how they do it at the highest levels:

    1) Buy the cheapest piece of crap desktop you can find from Dell.
    2) Take the rest of the money and blow it on whatever floats your boat.
    3) Make **** up. The more insane and clearly so, the better. Just make sure whoever is paying for this has already told you what your outcome will be.

    Anytime you're running simulations on anything that has 3 letters, it is bull ****.



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    Re: Building the fastest computer(s) I can buy for 50-100K. What should I get?

    I'm guessing you would want to do a cluster of desktops so you can make use of multiple computers at once...


    Last edited by SvrWxCy; 09-15-2011 at 07:13 PM.

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    Re: Building the fastest computer(s) I can buy for 50-100K. What should I get?

    Dell 910s with 10G Ethernet. You can get 32 cores per box and up to 512Gb of ram.


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    Re: Building the fastest computer(s) I can buy for 50-100K. What should I get?

    No idea on cost, but a client of mine is Cray. They make the fastest computers in the world.....most of their stuff is sold to the US Government. They're located in Chippewa Falls, WI. I don't know if you can even touch their stuff for a $100K, but if you want me to send you contact information, let me know.



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    Re: Building the fastest computer(s) I can buy for 50-100K. What should I get?

    Get a cluster, cluster them out with RHEL 6.X, its cluster suite and GFS2, you can do infiniband interconnects and a small SAN, you can prob get all of this done for $60 - $80k and have some serious horsepower and failover capabilities. That's what I would do.



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    Re: Building the fastest computer(s) I can buy for 50-100K. What should I get?

    Quote Originally Posted by ISU_phoria View Post
    No idea on cost, but a client of mine is Cray. They make the fastest computers in the world.....most of their stuff is sold to the US Government. They're located in Chippewa Falls, WI. I don't know if you can even touch their stuff for a $100K, but if you want me to send you contact information, let me know.
    No you cannot even talk to Cray for less than a million.


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    Re: Building the fastest computer(s) I can buy for 50-100K. What should I get?

    Can your CFD codes take advantage of GPGPUs? If so, I'd consider making a handful of "desktop supercomputers", as NVIDIA calls them, with multiple GPGPUs per machine and then link the workstations together as a cluster. Basically a hybrid of MPI (for communication between computers) and CUDA (for the GPGPUs themselves). The Asteroid Deflection Research Group at ISU has taken this approach with some of their recent work and had great success. If you're clever with the code (assuming you have that kind of access) you may be able to make use of the existing workstations as well, but that could be an extra headache. Out of curiosity, are you using commercial packages or custom code?

    I'm not up on the details of Infiniband/Myrinet, but I would suggest trying to evaluate the bandwidth you actually need rather than simply going for a specific product. My cluster computing focuses on CT reconstructions so I spend a heck of a lot more time doing calculations on each node as compared to transferring data (we have gigabit ethernet on the CNDE cluster), so a faster interconnect doesn't gain me much. These reconstructions are also "embarrassingly parallel", so I don't need any inter-node communications during the reconstruction process. From the (very) little CFD work I've done I could easily imagine that you'll need more inter-node communication than I do.

    I believe that the CFD center at ISU has done some work with using GPGPUs, so they may be able to answer some questions. The director is Dr. ZJ Wang.


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    [Anything] is easy if you are content to suck at it.

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    Re: Building the fastest computer(s) I can buy for 50-100K. What should I get?

    Quote Originally Posted by jsmith86 View Post
    Thought this would be a nice break from all the realignment stuff. So my advisor came to me recently and tells me to price out some new computer stuff because we (our research group) got some money for it. Anything less than $50,000 will probably be accepted right away. Up to $150,000 is still probably good as well. So what should I get? I need something to run CFD simulations as fast as possible, so the more cores and RAM the better. Infiniband/Myrinet or similar for interconnect. What should I get? Specific vendors I should call for a quote? Or would I be better getting an infiniband switch and cards to connect my 4 existing workstations?
    Get something that will eat Old Dominion on capitalonebowl.com.



  13. #13
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    Re: Building the fastest computer(s) I can buy for 50-100K. What should I get?

    I'd go with a gateway...



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    Re: Building the fastest computer(s) I can buy for 50-100K. What should I get?

    Quote Originally Posted by CycloneErik View Post
    Buy a calculator. They'll never know the difference.
    No, no, no. Buy a calculator and pocket the difference.



  15. #15
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    Re: Building the fastest computer(s) I can buy for 50-100K. What should I get?

    Quote Originally Posted by iahawkhunter View Post
    Can your CFD codes take advantage of GPGPUs? If so, I'd consider making a handful of "desktop supercomputers", as NVIDIA calls them, with multiple GPGPUs per machine and then link the workstations together as a cluster. Basically a hybrid of MPI (for communication between computers) and CUDA (for the GPGPUs themselves). The Asteroid Deflection Research Group at ISU has taken this approach with some of their recent work and had great success. If you're clever with the code (assuming you have that kind of access) you may be able to make use of the existing workstations as well, but that could be an extra headache. Out of curiosity, are you using commercial packages or custom code?

    I'm not up on the details of Infiniband/Myrinet, but I would suggest trying to evaluate the bandwidth you actually need rather than simply going for a specific product. My cluster computing focuses on CT reconstructions so I spend a heck of a lot more time doing calculations on each node as compared to transferring data (we have gigabit ethernet on the CNDE cluster), so a faster interconnect doesn't gain me much. These reconstructions are also "embarrassingly parallel", so I don't need any inter-node communications during the reconstruction process. From the (very) little CFD work I've done I could easily imagine that you'll need more inter-node communication than I do.

    I believe that the CFD center at ISU has done some work with using GPGPUs, so they may be able to answer some questions. The director is Dr. ZJ Wang.

    Fluent 6.3 for this set of runs, so no GPU work, although I might make the jump to Fluent 13 next year (or 14 if it is out by then), which hopefully will have GPU support. The problem with GPU computing is that a lot of the time, the software has to be completely rewritten to take advantage of it, and although the methods I use would probably work really well on a GPU, I've written enough custom code as add-ons to fluent as it is, writing a solver would just be a distraction from my real work. Most of my stuff is on columns, but is multiphase, which really adds to the compute time. They are pretty easy to parallelize, but there is a lot of communication between nodes. Right now I have 3 workstations with a total of 26 cores, each workstation working on a different run. Because the lab that we moved to a couple months ago used to be experimental, it only has a 100Mbit switch. I tested out using that thing for communication between computers and it was worse than pulling teeth without anesthetic.


    Right now, it looks like our best option is to go with a system from dell,ibm, or one of the other small cluster providers on the market, depending on which vendor our IT department tells us they will provide the most support for.


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