A $525, 2048-core cluster in 45 minutes

A $525, 2048-core cluster in 45 minutes

Summary: 10 years ago that would have been a top 10 supercomputer. Now all you need is a credit card and the Internet. Still think cloud computing is a fad?


10 years ago that would have been a top 5 supercomputer. Now all you need is a credit card and the Internet. Still think cloud computing is a fad?

A large biotech research group needed a lot of CPU cycles to run some simulations. Their own 2000-core cluster was fully booked. Call of Duty: Black Ops was just out!

They turned to CycleComputing's CycleCloud automated compute cluster creation system. You can build a cluster without them, but CycleCloud also handles details like:

  • Scheduling
  • Maintaining OS images
  • Encryption and associated key management
  • Deploying file systems
  • Load-based scaling

Amazon Web Services (AWS) provided the horsepower.

Benchmarking AWS With AWS rolling out new services monthly it seems, figuring out what to use is a problem. CycleComputing ran some benchmarks to understand the cost-efficiency of AWS cluster options.

This job was compute, not I/O, intensive. AWS offers new Cluster Compute instances configured with storage and I/O to handle either 8 or 16 concurrent jobs, as well as the older 8-way High-CPU instances.

They found that while the 8 & 16 CC instances were faster than the 8 H-CPU instance, the latter was more cost-effective because it cost so much less. The 8 H-CPU got 25% more work done per dollar.

I know, it seems almost un-American for the latest and greatest to not deliver the best bang for the buck. Know your application!

Set up, take down They started setting up the cluster at 1030am and by a 1115 they were maxing out over 2000 cores. The job was done by 2pm and it took another 10 minutes to bring the cluster down. Total AWS price: $525.

The Storage Bits take With 1.7 TB of RAM and 2048 cores, this rent-a-cluster's computing power was mind-boggling a decade ago. There is a new job here: cloud computing architect.

But there's a larger lesson for the industry here: this was all done with commodity hardware. All the fancy branded storage, servers and networking that the BigCo's are peddling just isn't part of this equation.

Which is why you can do this for $525.

Cloud computing and storage are driving a new round of competition and consolidation in the IT industry. It will be rough on the companies, but good for us users.

Comments welcome, of course. CycleComputing wrote this up in their blog.

Topics: Software, Amazon, Browser, Cloud, Enterprise Software, Networking, Storage

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  • A market emerges...

    I'm picturing a future where excess computing power is sold like excess electricity. Today many power companies choose, or are lawfully bound, to buy excess power generated by privately owned sources. This electricity may be coming from solar panels, wind turbines, small hydroelectric plants...you name it. The electricity can be routed back to the power company and resold. Meters monitor and keep track of these transactions. We're not too far away from being able to do the same thing with excess CPU cycles. Individuals aren't likely to ever get rich by selling off their excess computing power, but they may be able to subsidize their own internet usage. There are already frameworks being used for this kind of computational sharing (SETI@Home, Einstein@Home, Distributed.net) but I believe all of these are volunteer based. I've not yet heard of any that offer up compensation for distributed computing projects. I can't imagine they won't come around at some point though.
    • RE: A $525, 2048-core cluster in 45 minutes

      @jasonp@... Err, you think? It seems the price of computing cycles will continue to fall, the laws of supply and demand make it really hard to sell something that is so abundant.
      • Not really


        The price of computing cycles keep falling and the demand for computing cycles keep growing. You cannot conclude a damn thing from that alone.

        Even drinking water is being bought/sold.
      • Uh huh..

        For someone who claims to have something to do with economics, you sure don't seem to know much about the subject.

        The law of supply and demand dictates that the more demand there is for a commodity - be it drinking water, CPU cycles, meat, fish, cars, or whatever - the more expensive the commodity becomes. If the supply were to grow - i.e. new players enter the game and offer the same product or service as another, the price drops because suddenly there is plenty to go around. This continues until the demand rises to meet the supply and thus drives the price of the commodity up.
    • RE: A $525, 2048-core cluster in 45 minutes

      @jasonp@... I would see security being an issue.
  • RE: A $525, 2048-core cluster in 45 minutes

    This is pretty awesome. I used to intern at a video production house where we could pull the extra CPU cycles from all the networked computers around the office to help do video rendering for 3DSMAX, LightWave and Maya projects. There were times though when there simply wasn't enough CPU "in the building" for everything going on and timelines could get really tight. This would have been a very handy service to leverage for just those occasions.
  • This isn't a cloud

    It's grid computing. Intel invested heavily in this the last time this fad came around, and they lost big time.
    • thank you

      for pointing that out because some of these people are so overhyped on the whole "cloud computing" that they want you to forget things like grid computing so that when they roll it out of the closet again they can say "see, even more cloud computing things more proof where all going to the cloud!!".

      next he'll point to some company putting out a new email client telling everyone "look mail though the clouds - how much more proof do you need that were all moving to the cloud!?!?!"
      Ron Bergundy
    • RE: A $525, 2048-core cluster in 45 minutes

      @happyharry_z Sorry, grid is dead. And has been for several years. See my post at http://storagemojo.com/2007/11/26/grid-is-dead/

      Robin Harris
      • Grid is dead...

        long live grid.
      • RE: A $525, 2048-core cluster in 45 minutes

        @Robin Harris Thanks for making my point....
  • either it is time to retire

    after this article or too much partiyng. there is nothing new here. It looks like an advertisement to me.
  • I thought the "Grid" had an 8088 ....

    and a plasma display? Titanium case though!
  • RE: A $525, 2048-core cluster in 45 minutes

    I have just finished a 3 day course on #Azure and a recurring them in my head the whole time was that of the Cloud Computing Architect,

    The possibilities at a ridiculously low cost are mind boggling but you do need to understand the options available and look at how best to solve the problem.

    This, at least for some time, is ripe for the new role of Cloud Computing Architect for which you would expect to get paid rather handsomely. The cost savings to organizations could be enormous.

  • If you have a right algorithm/problem...

    If you have a problem that can be distributed to 2048 CPUs nicely then you can do it on office PCs. No need to do it in the cloud.
    • RE: A $525, 2048-core cluster in 45 minutes

      @man_28 But why do it yourself at the massive expense of all that infrastructure (which no IT department would probably get the go ahead for from the CFO anyway) when the infrastructure is already provided for you and you can just rent it for half a day as needs be.

      You company accountant will love you trust me :-)
      • RE: A $525, 2048-core cluster in 45 minutes

        Good point but:
        If you want to run just once and you already have the code then sure rent it.
        However if need to develop the code first, test it, your are talking about much more cash. Also if you want to run program many, many times, you are also saving money by doing it on computers that just sit there anyway.
      • RE: You company accountant will love you trust me


        NO, trust me, your CEO will love you even more, as his (her) bonus will get larger for `saving money`.

        Now, snarkiness aside, for those one-off, or infrequent CPU intensive operations, this could make sense. It all depends on what the user needs.

        Case in point:

        We needed additional holes cut through the 8 inch poured concrete floors of our building; and had a communications contractor do the work. They, in spite of doing these kind of installations on a regular basis, do not own a water cooled diamond core drill. For them, it makes more economical sense to go out and RENT that drill from a rental shop, and let the rental shop owner worry about stuff like maintenance, etc.
    • RE: A $525, 2048-core cluster in 45 minutes

      @man_28 Not every office has a spare 500 to 1000 desktop computers lying around with spare CPU time.

      Consider what it would cost in hardware alone, plus storage space and networking infrastructure.
  • RE: A $525, 2048-core cluster in 45 minutes

    I also believe that this idea of everything in the cloud is passing .... I know many people talk about it when I see the "wonder", people still do not trust these systems, at least that's what several people feel they have fear and safety etc. ....
    <a href="http://www.e-acompanhantes.com.br">acompanhantes</a>