On Construction of a Diskless Cluster Computing Environment in a Computer Classroom

On Construction of a Diskless Cluster Computing Environment in a Computer Classroom

Chao-Tung Yang (Department of Computer Science, Tunghai University, Taichung, Taiwan) and Wen-Feng Hsieh (Department of Computer Science, Tunghai University, Taichung, Taiwan)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/jghpc.2012100105


This paper’s objective is to implement and evaluate a high-performance computing environment by clustering idle PCs (personal computers) with diskless slave nodes on campuses to obtain the effectiveness of the largest computer potency. Two sets of Cluster platforms, BCCD and DRBL, are used to compare computing performance. It’s to prove that DRBL has better performance than BCCD in this experiment. Originally, DRBL was created to facilitate instructions for a Free Software Teaching platform. In order to achieve the purpose, DRBL is applied to the computer classroom with 32 PCs so to enable PCs to be switched manually or automatically among different OS (operating systems). The bioinformatics program, mpiBLAST, is executed smoothly in the Cluster architecture as well. From management’s view, the state of each Computation Node in Clusters is monitored by “Ganglia”, an existing Open Source. The authors gather the relevant information of CPU, Memory, and Network Load for each Computation Node in every network section. Through comparing aspects of performance, including performance of Swap and different network environment, they attempted to find out the best Cluster environment in a computer classroom at the school. Finally, HPL of HPCC is used to demonstrate cluster performance.
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1. Introduction

In the campus, there are many computer resources in the computer classroom whereas resources are left unused most of the time in the school because a computer classroom actually operates 8 hours maximum a day. This paper focused on how to run the computers in the classroom to its full capacity, 24 hours a day. What we consider is the cost-effective utilization of the largest computer potency.

The improvements in the signal technology over the past few years in areas, such as microprocessors, memory, networks, and software, have made it possible to cluster groups of inexpensive personal computers and/or workstations into a cost effective system that functions in concert and possesses tremendous processing powers. Cluster computing is not new, but particularly in the area of networking, this class of machines is becoming a high-performance platform for parallel and distributed applications. Although the history of PC Cluster is short, it develops quite fast. In the recent decade, PC Clustering has been developed flourishingly for a number of applications. Efficiency and economy that PC Clusters have demonstrated so far have attracted many researchers who need High Performance Computing. Furthermore, either existing PCs or newly purchased PCs can be linked to promote PC Clusters to sweep across all over the world. Cluster has many applications in different fields. For example, a Linux Cluster has become significant in the film industry for graphics rendering quality. In the movie Titanic, a Linux cluster was used to render the background in the ocean scenes. This paper aimed to find out a PC Cluster (Buyya, 1999) suitable for the campus in the article, and all the idle computer resources in the campus can be clustered to reach their full capacity.

The construction of PC Clusters in the past was that every node was needed to install relevant services and it had better performance in the past (Ikeda, Hara, Ichimura, & Takahama, 2005). But this approach will often encounter such questions as a large number of equipment, including PCs, hard disks, monitors, etc…, needed to be managed, and software needed to update in the computer classrooms. Therefore, it is recommended that PC Clusters in the classroom uses a Diskless technology (Wikipedia, n.d.; Warren & Ulrich, 2012; Schwemmer, Carvajal, & Neufeld, 2011) to centralize the services of all nodes, and can reduce consuming hard disks. Therefore, two sets of Clusters, BCCD (Bootable Cluster CD) (http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html) is that school does not need to buy a lot of copyright software (including OS) for teaching if the budget is limited. Therefore, this paper is also proposed to use the free software, such as document (OpenOffice.org), drawing (Gimp), network browser (Firefox), to construct a Free Software Teaching platform for promoting the pluralism of the Information Education. In conclusion, we hope that Free Software Teaching of DRBL not only can reduce the expenditure of budgets, but also this promotion cultivates the “Freedom and Open” concept to teachers and students. By switching method, computers can be turned into a Cluster system automatically or manually and the computer resource can be effectively used.

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