High Performance Computing on a Linux PC Beowulf cluster

CMP Group, Physics Department, Michigan State University

Prof. in charge: Dr. Phil Duxbury

Student in charge: Aleksandar Donev

Current Project: Convex Network Optimization

In Giltner Hall, room 346, there is a Beowulf-like Pentium (350 MHz) II PC cluster with 11 nodes that is used mostly for teaching purposes. The server is gauss.pa.msu.edu, and there are eleven nodes called pc346g-xx.pa.msu.edu, where xx goes from 01 to 10. The nodes are connected with each other via a fast 10/100baseT ethernet switch and are accessible to users remotely. The system is administered by Nicholas Kreucher from computing support and has Red Hat 6.0 Linux installed. More information on the cluster user policies can be found here. This is by far the most resourceful information pool on Beowulf clusters, and more links can be found, for example, here.

At nights and over weekends, this cluster is lots of unused computing power. Although part of our interest in the cluster is this computing power, the main goal of this work is to explore some easy-to-use tools for cluster computing (distributed parallel computing for those more familiar). Primary focus is on using High Performance Fortran as a parallel programming language, with the public domain compiler Adaptor and the MPICH MPI implementation as a main parallelizing tool, and the Lahey Intel Linux Express Fortran 95 as the serial node compiler. You can learn a lot about High Performance Fortran, for example, here.

For this, we have created an account on gauss for the user called hpf. Currently I am the only one using this account, since we are still in the early exploration phases. But later we would like to tell others about our experiences and have other High Performance Computing cluster users. The experience we get will hopefully help us use some of the big Beowulf clusters at various supercomputing centers.

Some information on the hpf account can be found here. A description of some parallel tools installed can be found here, and a corresponding page for some serial libraries can be found here. Also, check out these slides from my presentation on parallel programming in Fortran.
NOTE: These pages are visited for some major updates as the fall semester 2000 begins!

Aleksandar (i.e. me) does not pertain to be an expert and so he would appreciate insights from the more experienced out there.