"Small Mac" Cluster

Discussion in 'Community' started by jared_kipe, Jan 12, 2005.

  1. jared_kipe macrumors 68030

    jared_kipe

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2003
    Location:
    Seattle
    #1
    Some of you may be wanting to think about creating your own super computer out of the new Mac Mini. Obviously you will have some consideration as to model and connection between them. But let me give you some calculations.

    Lets just say you want to make a stack of Mac Mini's in your apartment. My apartment has what appears to be 9' or so ceilings. So a single stack would be....
    54 Mac Mini's Maybe you want to use xSan to network the drives, giving you...
    2.16 TeraBytes of data and 4.32 TB for the highends.
    All this would cost you less than $27,000 ($32,346 High)

    Hmm, thats impressive, but lets say that you want to have as many computers as the "Big Mac" 1100 Mac Mini's would mean just 20 stacks with 20 MM's left over. If we put it into a fictional 9'x9'x9' cube room, then the 1100MM's will only occupy less than 7.4% of that rooms volume. And give you 44TB storage (88TB high) for less than $550,000 ($660,000 high).

    Obviously for a proc. equivalent to the Big Mac, (2200 G5s) we can just double the specs...
    2200 Mac Mini's
    14.8% of our cube room
    88TB (176TB high)
    $1.1Million ($1.32 Million)

    What would it take to fill our 9' cubic room?? Well it would take 14,906 Mini Micro Mac's (assuming the remaining 155 cubic inches was all it took for the powersupplies, not super realisitc)
    14,906 Mac Mini's
    ~600TB (~1.2 ExaByte 1200TB Highend)
    $7.5 Million ($8.9 Million Highend)

    Comepare that to the cost of the Big Mac @ $5.2Million. Think of the folding that could be done. Obviously you would either need to get a firewire or USB2.0 low latency network, or distribute your work so that a very small chunk of data requires a large amount of clock cycles.
     
  2. virividox macrumors 601

    virividox

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2003
    Location:
    Manila - Nottingham - Philadelphia - Santa Barbar
    #2
    but the lan cards are only 10/100 so its going to be slow, plus think about heating!!!
     
  3. Mechcozmo macrumors 603

    Mechcozmo

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2004
    #3
    The cooling, power, and LAN cables take up space too. But if anyone has around $800,000 laying around I don't mind trying it out...
     
  4. jared_kipe thread starter macrumors 68030

    jared_kipe

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2003
    Location:
    Seattle
    #4
    Everyone's a critic ;)

    Of course all that would take up room, possibly a room bigger than 9'x9'x9', because thats a really small room. A point none of you brought up would be that you would need walking room to be able to physically access every computer.

    As for your concerns about the ethernet. I addressed them in my original post, what you guys should do is look for a firewire or USB2 network hub.

    And, as a side note, where did the last 2 replies go?
     
  5. Mechcozmo macrumors 603

    Mechcozmo

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2004
    #5
    USB 2.0 isn't good for networking... Mac's can't receive IPs over it, and its sustained transfer rate isn't as good as FW. But a FW hub...

    Well... if Apple makes an edu model of the Mac Mini, then I guess your issue with the optical drive access is solved. And if not, well, burn them on something faster than 4x!
     
  6. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

    pseudobrit

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2002
    Location:
    Jobs' Spare Liver Jar
    #6
    I know of a much more effective solution; it's already set up for high speed networking and cheap storage. It won't have complications with cooling or racking, either.

    It's made by a company in California and you can see it here
     
  7. jared_kipe thread starter macrumors 68030

    jared_kipe

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2003
    Location:
    Seattle
    #7
    Do you honestly think that a single single processor xserve would be faster than 6 Mac Mini's? Cause thats how many you could buy for the price of the single proc. xserve. Not to mention the fact that an xserve occupies approximately 10 times the volume, meaning you could fit your 6 Mac mini's in less space.
     
  8. chv400 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2003
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    #8
    I thought the Virginia tech comps all had like 4 gigs of ram and arent the G5s a good bit more powerful than G4s
     
  9. hartsft macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2004
    #9
    hmm

    i think it'd be cool to just have a dozen or two stacked all up together on one desk.. like a micro-cluster
     
  10. chv400 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2003
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    #10
    yah it would i still want a mini though id put it ontop of my B&W like a cd burner and sync the HDs then id take it with me on trips.
     
  11. kettle macrumors 65816

    kettle

    Joined:
    May 12, 2002
    Location:
    England, Great Britain (Airstrip One)
    #11
    Can PC'c receive IPs over USB2?
     
  12. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2003
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    #12
    For the same $3000 you could get a dual 2.3Ghz cluster node, which I do think would be much faster than 6 1.25Ghz Mac Minis, or 5 1.42Ghz Mac Minis.

    I don't think the volume argument quite works either as space for cables (more due to more nodes to connect), external power supplies, and cooling space would more than even out your 10:6 ratio.

    Still, I do think the idea is fun.
     
  13. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

    pseudobrit

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2002
    Location:
    Jobs' Spare Liver Jar
    #13
    No, but I honestly think a dual G5 Xserve cluster node would, and would cost as much as your 6 G4 minis. Factor in the data bottleneck comparisons:
    1.15GHz bus/167MHz bus
    max 8GB DDR400EEC/max 1GB DDR333 RAM;
    10/100 ethernet/Dual Gigabit Ethernet+FibreChannel+PCI-X available

    I would think the fact that even the lowliest single Xserve has more RAM capacity than your 6 unit mini setup would be enough to kill this argument dead.

    Yeah, like a mini would fit in industry standard racks?

    You can put as many processors as you want on your cluster, but the bottlenecks would make it very much not worth the trouble.

    The Mac mini is great for what it's designed, but it's going to get blown out of the water if you compare it to professional equipment. I can take two cars worth $20,000 and combine the engines into one vehicle, but I'd still get reamed by just about any $40,000 sports car.
     
  14. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2003
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    #14
    There was a posting here on MR that stated that the Mac mini could not be stacked. Probably for heat issues.
     
  15. crackpip macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2002
    #15
    For folding or other distributed projects 10/100 Mb ethernet would be fine since the computation time is so much longer than the transfer time.

    Firewire 400 seems to have just over half the latency of switched ethernet, but its still 10 times that of something like myrinet. It's got pretty good bandwidth, but for clustering applications its generally more about latency. The more processors you included the more latency degrades performance, which is why you often see diminished returns.

    Still, I think it would be pretty cool to get a bunch of minis and try it out. If I get a few grand in research money for a new computer, I might try and put something together. It seems a bit weird that you can't stack them, considering the bottom has some sort of rubber on it and the top is made of plastic. I would have figured you should give plenty of air around the sides and back.

    crackpip
     
  16. jared_kipe thread starter macrumors 68030

    jared_kipe

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2003
    Location:
    Seattle
    #16
    Thankyou, and you're right, just because some guy on MR said it couldn't be stacked doesn't mean it can't be stacked.

    Now, I'm not actually saying that this would be more powerful than a cluster node, but isn't that kind of cheating? Using a computer that is stripped down for this kind of work in a mock battle against a full mini pc? You're missing the point, and the fun.
     

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