Why I like Intel® Cluster Ready

August 20th, 2009 12:50 pm
Posted by Douglas Eadline
Tags: , ,

No, I'm not a marketing droid, although I could play one on TV

I know what you are thinking. Here comes the Intel Cluster Ready (ICR) pitch, blah, blah, blah. First, this is not a product pitch, because ICR is not a product. Second, I might prefer it was "Production Cluster Ready" or something similar that did not have a vendor moniker on it, but, hey, Intel put a lot of work into this framework (and continues to do so). They deserve the recognition. Finally, the real reason I am writing about it is because I think it is a really good idea.

Allow me to elaborate on the "good idea" part. Suppose you are an ISV (Independent Software Vendor) and a client comes to you and says, "Hey, I got one of those cluster things, I want to buy your software for it." At first, you think, maybe we should wait and see if there are more customers who need this before we spend a lot of time creating a cluster version. Then more customers come to you with the same request. You now see a market opportunity because these "cluster things" cost less than big-iron supercomputers, so you figure you can sell more software.

But, there is a problem. Each cluster seems to be a little different. They all have the same basic stuff, but there are enough details for the devils to make your life miserable. There are issues, which MPI and interconnect, compiler, libraries, kernel, Linux distribution, etc. In addition, you found that many times you ended up solving "cluster problems" for your customers and you don't want to be in the cluster support business. As an ISV, you may start to wonder if these "cluster things" will ever work out. Other ISVs see what you are going through and decide it is too much of a mess to jump into. The last thing you want is a customer that thinks your software is broken because it won't run on their handcrafted "cluster thing."

Now suppose a vendor who had a vested interest in HPC said, "Let's put together a framework (not a strict specification) that allows ISVs to run codes on clusters with minimal hassle." And, that my fellow HPC mavens is why I think Intel ICR is a really good idea. So do these ISVs.


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Author Info

Dr. Douglas Eadline has worked with parallel computers since 1988 (anyone remember the Inmos Transputer?). After co-authoring the original Beowulf How-To, he continued to write extensively about Linux HPC Clustering and parallel software issues. Much of Doug's early experience has been in software tools and and application performance. He has been building and using Linux clusters since 1995. Doug holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Lehigh University.