Tuesday, October 18, 2005


mini-itx cluster

`I built a Mini-ITX based massively parallel cluster named PROTEUS. I have 12 nodes using VIA EPIA V8000, 800 MHz motherboards. The little machine is running FreeBSD 4.8, and MPICH Troubles installing and configuring Free BSD and MPICH were few. In fact, there were no major issues with either FreeBSD or MPICH.

The construction is simple and inexpensive. The motherboards were stacked using threaded aluminum standoffs and then mounted on aluminum plates. Two stacks of three motherboards were assembled into each rack. Diagonal stiffeners were fabricated from aluminum angle stock to reduce flexing of the rack assembly.

The controlling node has a 160 GB ATA-133 HDD, and the computational nodes use 340 MB IBM microdrives in compact flash to IDE adapters. For file I/O, the computational nodes mount a partition on the controlling node’s hard drive by means of a network file system mount point.

Each motherboard is powered by a Morex DC-DC converter, and the entire cluster is powered by a rather large 12V DC switching power supply.

With the exception of the metalwork, power wiring, and power/reset switching, everything is off the shelf.’

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