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Issues and Questions for the Review Committee

These web pages, and in particular the Node Specs which are available on the menu bar to the left, provide a detailed description of the proposed cluster nodes. The Switch Design, also available from the menu bar to the left (under Design/Switching) provides a detailed description of the proposed options for the cluster switch.

Here are a list of questions and issues that we would like advice about from the review committee:

  • Switch design
    Does the committee agree that a less-expensive oversubscribed switch design makes sense?
  • Switch design
    Does the committee agree that the proposed oversubscription design (max 50% oversubscribed at the edges, plus potentially some oversubscription in the core) is reasonable? Or should we consider N-way trunking with larger edge switches?
  • Switch design
    We have presented four options for the core switch, ranging in price from below $100k to above $140k. What would be our best choice? Are we overlooking something with a higher performance/price ratio?
  • Node design
    Does the committee agree with the choice of AMD Opterons rather than Intel or other AMD CPUs?
  • Node design
    We have three choices of hardware RAID card: 3ware 9500, Areca 1110, and 3ware 9550. The first has been on the market the longest and is probably the safest bet for reliability. It has the lowest cost and performance. The second has been on the market for a half year, and has the highest performance and cost. The third is a new product, and offers much better performance than the 9500 at a slightly increased cost. However there have been some reports that it is not (yet) reliable or predicatble.
  • Node design
    We have chosen to use single core rather than dual core processors to provide an inexpensive future upgrade path. Should we consider building fewer systems, with one CPU slot populated with a dual-core processor and the other CPU slot empty, to make such an upgrade more cost efficient in the future? This would cut the total node count by about 15%.
  • Bid specification
    Are there additional qualifications, requirements, or questions that should be added to the proposed bid specification?
  • Testing
    Is there additional performance or compability testing that should be carried out before making a purchase?
  • Other
    Are there other issues that the review committee wants us to address before proceeding?

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Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.