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Windows 7 Cluster?


abferm
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Hi, will a cluster help me? If it will could someone point me toward information on how to cluster Windows 7? My situation is described below.

The computer on my desk at work is an old Intel machine running on a dual core P4 with 2GB of RAM. It is running Windows 7. I haven't run into any problems with it, except the occasional CPU hogging program that slows everything down. My boss encourages tinkering and we have plenty of old parts laying around that I should be able to scrap together another machine or two to cluster with it.

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Would be better to upgrade the machine, and go at least 6GB ram, but that depends on what you need to do with it. 2GB is like borderline minimum for light weight users. Without knowing what you intend to do with the cluster or what its for, I would say better to just upgrade the workstation, go 64bit, and max out your ram. If you need to crunch numbers or have data intensive processing, build a box that can handle a couple of Cuda based cards, but the program in use would have to be written to use the OpenCL platform so it can run against the GPU vs CPU. GPU computing these days pretty much crushes clusters, and saves money at the same time, but that depends on if the program in use can be compiled to run against the GPU. Clusters create more heat(as do every CPU's though) and require more electricity and space.

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Yea definitely get more ram.

If your boss doesn't want to pay for 2k machine for you, like most business PC's are, at least, where I work. You can build a Intel core i7 2600 PC for 600€ and If you go with i5 or i3 you will save more.

And if you have stuff to build an other PC, you might be able to build a faster one.

BTW in the last episode Shannon showed how to control 2 PCs with one mouse and keyboard I ques that it will be the best cluster like solution for you. Unless you run just one app.

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My employer will not buy new machines as long as the ones we have work. The best I could do building with the parts at my disposal is probably a machine with a similar CPU but more RAM. The best chance I have of getting a better PC on the desk is if a customer buys a new machine and doesn't want their old one. I already have two machines connected to a KVM switch. The other one is running Ubuntu to do the things that Windows complains about.

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BTW in the last episode Shannon showed how to control 2 PCs with one mouse and keyboard I ques that it will be the best cluster like solution for you. Unless you run just one app.

No offense, but Synergy, does not a cluster make. Clusters are used for distributed computing power. Sharing a mouse between two machines, is hardly the same thing. Something like folding at home, that uses thousands of peoples idle machines is kind of what a cluster would be. Parallel computing power via GPU would be better in my opinion though.

Edited by digip
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No offense, but Synergy, does not a cluster make. Clusts are sued for distributed computing power. Sharing a mouse between two machines, is hardly the same thing. Something like folding at home, that uses thousands of peoples idle machines is kind of what a cluster would be. Parallel computing power via GPU would be better in my opinion though.

Yes, I thought about using GPUs, but our graphics cards suck. The MoBo I'm currently using is an Intel D865GVHZ and I am using the integrated video card. I've never heard of folding at home, does it really work? You would think internet speed would limit its speed and usefulness.

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Yes, I thought about using GPUs, but our graphics cards suck. The MoBo I'm currently using is an Intel D865GVHZ and I am using the integrated video card. I've never heard of folding at home, does it really work? You would think internet speed would limit its speed and usefulness.

Network speed is an issue with something like that, but its distributed tasks, that are given to many, which then report back their parts. Clusters work in a similar manner, sharing the workload but in your case, I don't think you will see a benefit. You would be better off raping another machine for its memory and maxing out what you can put in the current box. If you are only on a 32 bit machine, its even more of a case to upgrade the hardware. you could build a decent machine with parts off newegg for under $500 that would probably out perform, 3 or 4 P4 workstations you have laying around.

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I know I could build a low cost system that would out perform any cluster I could build with what I have. We are a small computer retail and repair business. If it was a matter of how cheep we could get the parts I would just build the machine, but my employer doesn't believe in spending ANY money to upgrade systems that already do what we need(no matter how slowly they do it). I'm not trying to rival a new system, just to increase the performance as mush as I can with what I have.

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I know I could build a low cost system that would out perform any cluster I could build with what I have. We are a small computer retail and repair business. If it was a matter of how cheep we could get the parts I would just build the machine, but my employer doesn't believe in spending ANY money to upgrade systems that already do what we need(no matter how slowly they do it). I'm not trying to rival a new system, just to increase the performance as mush as I can with what I have.

Increase the performance for what process though? I think that is the key factor. What is it you feel the cluster will give you that you don't have now? Clusters wont make your gaming faster, or your OS faster. They take specific tasks and balance the load across CPU's. They are also good for failover, round robin type deals with domain controllers, so if something dies, you fail over to the other machines(s) handling the requests, but what specifically are you going to be doing that needs more CPU power? If you want performance for the OS cause its kind of slow, add more ram. If you wanted to learn about clusters, then build it and make one.

I would say start reading up on them, and decide what you need it to do. - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_cluster If you need cluster computing specifically, you would need to go with windows compute cluster server anyway.

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I'm with Digip, it would be a waste of resources (money, electricity) to build a cluster of computers based on CPUs. If I were you I would invest into a couple of Nvidia's graphics cards. To give you an idea a single GTX 460 card contains a total of 480 CUDA codes, that's like having a few hundred computers in a room, wasting huge amounts of electricity.

All you need is an application that supports Cuda or OpenCL, to take advantage of all this power.

Edited by Infiltrator
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My answer/suggestion won't help you with creating a cluster, but it might help you still. I've heard that Xubuntu is a great OS for older/slower hardware. If it's higher performance that you are after, maybe you should try Xubuntu, and run Windows in a VM if you happen to need Windows. Maybe run some benchmarks with your current configuration, install Xubuntu, and run some more benchmarks. Maybe it helps, maybe not, but either way it costs infinitely less than building a cluster with hardware that you don't already have.

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No offense, but Synergy, does not a cluster make. Clusters are used for distributed computing power. Sharing a mouse between two machines, is hardly the same thing. Something like folding at home, that uses thousands of peoples idle machines is kind of what a cluster would be. Parallel computing power via GPU would be better in my opinion though.

Yea, but if you have multiple apps you want to use simultaneously it might work.

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Yea, but if you have multiple apps you want to use simultaneously it might work.

Might work for what, to use multiple machines? He could do that now, put a bunch of machines in a back office, and then RDP into all of them to do different tasks on each of them. That still isn't a cluster, just a bunch of workstations/servers. Computers today rarely use more than 50% of their CPU at any given time. Unless you are transcoding video, playing high end games(which max the GPU, usually not the CPU) or running complex mathematical/scientific work, what is it you need a cluster for. I'm still waiting for an answer of what it is he thinks a cluster is going to help him do.

I'm not saying it isn't something to learn, and by all means, do it for the learning experience. I've not had to set one up myself, but I also don't have a need for one, knowing what is required to set one up and what they are for and can do. If hes looking to get more performance out of his current machine, a cluster doesn't help with that. If hes looking to break down a heavy, CPU intensive workload of output from some job/program, then a cluster may help in that regard, but only if its specifically written to use parallel computing power, by which it would be more cost effective for a cheap Cuda based card and compile said program to run against the GPU instead of 3 workstations networked together.

If you want a real cluster of computer power in a desktop form factor, build a Beowulf cluster. http://www.calvin.edu/~adams/research/microwulf/

Forgot to mention Helmer - http://helmer.sfe.se/

Edited by digip
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I don't usually have a single CPU intensive program running, but I am always running multiple programs at the same time. I was thinking it would be useful if I could pass these processes off to another CPU. Unfortunately now that I have looked at the PC a little more trying to find out if I could use CUDA, I have found that my computer is maxed out at 2GB of RAM and low RAM is restricting me more than anything else. I probably need to just find a better used board laying around somewhere. The cluster idea was just as much about learning how to do it, but if it wont help than I need to find another solution.

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