Originally Published: Monday, 22 October 2001 Author: Suyog Shah
Published to: develop_articles/Development Articles Page: 1/2 - [Printable]

Enjoy Some Warm Cocoa

Ever want to build a supercomputer with your Linux skills? Of course you have. Here's some instructions from Suyog Shah.

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What is COCOA?

COCOA stands for Cost effective Computing Array. It is a Beowulf class supercomputer. Beowulf is a multi-computer architecture which can be used for parallel computations. It is a system which usually consists of one server node, and one or more client nodes connected together via Ethernet or some other fast network. It is a system built using commodity hardware components, like any office desktop PC with standard Ethernet adapters, and switches. It does not contain any custom hardware components and is trivially reproducible. http://cocoa.ihpca.psu.edu/.

What hardware was used to build COCOA?

26 WS-410 workstations from Dell http://www.dell.com, each consisting of:

  1. Dual 400 MHz Intel Pentium II Processors w/512K L2 cache
  2. 512 MB SDRAM

  3. 4 GB UW-SCSI2 Disk
  4. 3COM 3c509B Fast Ethernet adapter (100 Mbits/sec)
  5. 32x SCSI CD-ROM drive
  6. 1.44 MB floppy drive
  7. Cables
In addition, the following were also used:

  1. One Baynetworks 450T 24-way 100 Mbits/sec switch
  2. Two 12-way Monitor/keyboard/mouse switches
  3. Four 500 kVa Uninteruptible Power Supplies from APC.
  4. One monitor, keyboard, mouse and 54 GB of extra UW-SCSI2 hard disk space for one PC which was used as the server.

What is the operating system on COCOA?

Linux! In specific, RedHat Linux 5.1 distribution http://www.redhat.com.

Linux is a free version of the Unix operating system, and it runs on all PC/i386 compatible computers (and now also on PowerPCs, Alphas, Sparcs, Mips, Ataris, and Amigas). The Linux kernel is written by Linus Torvalds torvalds@transmeta.com and other volunteers. Most of the programs running under Linux are generic Unix freeware, many of them from the GNU project.

What software is installed on COCOA?

On the server, the following software is installed:

  1. Base packages from RedHat Linux 5.1 distribution http://www.redhat.com
  2. Freeware GNU C/C++ compiler as well as Pentium optimized GNU
  3. C/C++ compiler (_gcc)

  4. Fortran 77/90 compiler and debugger by Portland Group
  5. Freeware Message Passing Interface (MPI) libraries for
  6. parallel programming in C/C++/Fortran 77/Fortran 90.

  7. Scientific Visualization Software TECPLOT from Amtec
  8. Corporation http://www.amtec.com

How much did COCOA cost?

Approximately $100,000

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