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Parallel Computing: Clusters or Graphics?

Posted on 2008-06-09
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I'm working on my AI research, which could benefit greatly from parallel computing. As I'm sure there's someone here who knows more than I do on the different platforms, which one would bring better results? (I know I could use both... but time's not really on my side.)

- nVidia CUDA [w/ GF8800s]
- OpenMPI [w/ about 50-100 computers, running P4D]

Some pages linking to benchmarks would be useful.

[Sorry for the low point count, I ran out. :(]

Thanks!
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Question by:holobyted
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11 Comments
 
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Expert Comment

by:Callandor
ID: 21751070
One Tesla card supposedly can run at 518 gigaflops http://xtreview.com/addcomment-id-2756-view-Nvidia-Tesla-c870,D870-and-s870.html+tesla+nvidia+benchmarks&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=2&gl=us, which is compared to the throughput of 40 x86 processors.  There is a 4-card version for servers that is that much more powerful.   Graphics cards are designed for parallel processing of textures and have a much higher transistor count than cpus, so it is not surprising that they can outperform general purpose processors for certain applications.
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by:holobyted
ID: 21751739
What would the higher-end Tesla card compare to? Ie, one "normal" Tesla card compares to 40 x86 CPUs (which CPUs?), what would the other be?

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Callandor earned 50 total points
ID: 21752812
One Tesla card (c870) is 518 gigaflops, the d870 is two c870 cards and is over a teraflop, and the s870 is four c870 cards and is over 2 teraflops.  The system scales linearly with additional cards, so by extrapolation that means 80 x86 cpus and 160 x86 cpus, respectively.
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Author Comment

by:holobyted
ID: 21752976
How would 35 Pentium 4 D @ 2.00GHz compare? What would be the "rated" Xflops? Assuming peak performance.
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by:Callandor
ID: 21754526
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by:holobyted
ID: 21754707
If I recall correctly, P4D's went up to 3.2GHz... According to Wikipedia though, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentium_D), you're right.

What would be the approx. flops be for such a cluster? I'll try getting in touch w/ the owner of the 35 CPUs so I can get a real speed value. (Running OpenMPI)
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by:Callandor
ID: 21760050
A single PentiumD 3.2 clocks in at about 600 megaflops, so 35 of them will be around 21 gigaflops.  The PentiumD cpus are much lower in performance than the newer Core2 cpus, easily trounced by even AMD's X2 offerings.
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Author Comment

by:holobyted
ID: 21760797
Wow. That's actually pretty depressing... 35 systems can't even match up to one graphics card. Too bad CUDA is a pain to implement...
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by:Callandor
ID: 21761480
Modern graphics cards are very powerful, and the ability to use them in non-graphics applications is very nice.  Think about a $200 card giving you the power of 10 modern cpus - that's quite a good deal.
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Author Comment

by:holobyted
ID: 21761524
Yeah, I know. What's the GFlops on a "normal" GF8800 though? The tesla is outstanding, but that's cause it's a "small supercomputer for your workstation."

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Expert Comment

by:Callandor
ID: 21765742
It's about the same - 500 gigaflops: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GeForce_8_Series#8800_GT, though I don't know if all of that is available for number crunching.
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