Clustering On A Budget
I'd like to start a little computation project I've been milling over for a while. Initially I had tried running it on my computer (after increasing the Windows swap file size to 4GB), but this proved a bit silly as it was constantly swapping pages to go through the massive table I had generated. After nearly two full weeks of listening to constant grinding I called it off. :o
So, I decided that what I would do is modify the design of the program to work on a parallel processing basis, in that my computer would dole out chunks of work to a cluster of machines that would do as asked, return the results and check out another chunk.
The thing is, how can I put together a cluster on a budget? I want about eight machines and they don't need hard drives or sound cards or anything like that, just 128MB or so and a network adapter. Can I get a rack or something like this?
I've thought about just getting several old PCs off eBay or wherever but those would all be big things that could possibly go bang at an innappropriate time. Laptops were also an idea but even the older ones are relatively expensive.
Is distributed computing out of the equation? You could probably use CORBA (or DCE... although CORBA is probably a better choice) as a middleware. It integrates well into whatever C++ project you may have.
About a year or two ago I was digging around on the internet for cheap systems myself. The goal was a system around $50 for a guy who needed a basic internet system. I came across a site called Directron. In particular, their PC clearance department.
Shipping isn't too bad. I've typically paid around $20 to $25. Note that their system stats aren't quite exact. Last system I bought was supposed to have 256MB of memory but only had 128MB. Plus it was supposed to have Windows 98 but instead came with Windows 2000. Other than that it was alright.
Good prices, Frobozz, but the shipping rises to about $100+ to the UK, kinda puts a downer on it all. ;)
I also want to avoid a forest of big beige boxes if I can. Like I said, I don't need any sort of expandability, just a little box (with a little power supply, external even) that has a CPU, memory and a NIC in it. Perhaps there are systems that don't have proper video cards or monitor output, which is also fine, I can control those remotely.
A rack of servers sounds like the best option, but I was wondering if anyone had any experience in that area regarding buying. :confused: