back to article Why not build a cluster out of WORKSTATIONS?

Australia's Monash University has just opened an amazing visualisation facility called Cave 2. The facility offers an eight-metre long, 320-degree wall comprised of 80 3D monitors with a combined resolution of 27320 x 3072 pixels. “We spend millions of dollars building supercomputers and then look at the results they produce on …

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Now where did I put my copy of Unreal Tournament?

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I was more thinking of pong - just for the contrast :)

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Anonymous Coward

Timely.

Had IT on my back the other day as to why I couldn't use a generic server for the many-screens system I am looking to install in our art gallery over summer break. Just sent the relevant manager (who used to by my boss several years ago, so we get on fine, really) a link to this.

(I am not as ambitious as the story in this article - I am looking at driving three full-HD signage screens in our foyer and up to several HD to full-HD projectors/monitors in the gallery space propper - the latter will vary as to what artworks are installed at the time).

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Re: Timely.

Looks like you need the Large Pixel Collider.

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Anonymous Coward

“We spend millions of dollars building supercomputers and then look at the results they produce on a $200 monitor,”

Maybe because it doesn't matter what the data displayed is, just the result. Do I need that many monitors and 3D at that just to see the answer is 42?

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conversely

we now have HD tv and 405 line script writers.

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Coat

You could just send that to a digital watch..

(towel icon please)

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We output on a $200 monitor..

But now we're outputting it on lots of $100 monitors.

Seriously, that works out to be 60× 1366×768 monitors.

1366x768. That well known exclusive resolution. Still, impressive setup.

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Unhappy

Re: We output on a $200 monitor..

"Seriously, that works out to be 60× 1366×768 monitors."

Errr... _80_ x 1366 x 768 (like it said in the story)

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Thumb Up

A lot of applications benefit from seeing the big picture

People like chemical simulation, magma flow and seismic viewing

Excellent idea.

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I don't get the use of this.

What use is a curved wall of graphics output linked to a supercomputer?

And if they just want to visualize 3D output, why not get an Oculus Rift or Sony HMZ-T3W? Or 100 of them, that wall can't have been cheap.

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Re: I don't get the use of this.

Don't under estimate the power of the human eye and brain to process information and see patterns that either become invisible at lower resolutions, or would require significant amounts of cpu time if only the researcher knew what it was they were looking for...

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Re: I don't get the use of this.

What use is a curved wall of graphics output linked to a supercomputer?

Why, a brainwashing room, of course. Like in The Ipcress File (with Michael Caine) and lots of other films from around the same time.

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Gunna need a bigger man-cave

I thought my 6 display set up was pretty darn nice. I feel suddenly emasculated :P

I don't think I am going to survive any attempt to get something like that approved by the boss (girlfriend).

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Brute force

Will make an awesome password cracker or Bitcoin miner with all those GPU's humming away...

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Re: Brute force

Bitcoin mining on anything GPU based these days is a no-go. The latest ASIC based machines are homing in on the 1 terra-hash/second mark. You'll be unable to compete and you'll struggle to cover your power costs.

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What's so new...?

We did this with a cluster of HP Unix Workstations and D&B for a data factory in...oh, 1995. Running custom parallel processing software. Our alternative was to buy a Teradata or IBM SP...the workstations were cheaper and just about as functional for what we were doing...

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If you're using HP workstations its proberbly cheaper to use the dl380s than a beefy z820.

I know you can get at least one k5000 into the dl380, I can't see why you wont be able to get two. Super micro can defiantly do it.

As for "servers aren't optimised for graphics" that's patently bollocks. What do you think most workstations are? server motherboards in a fancy box.

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Depends on the board setup

Some of the single processor workstations in the last few years have had a significant advantage over the servers boards and multi proc setups.

For example, Up until the Ivy Bridge E chips came out from intel. You where better off doing multi video card setups on a single socket 2011 setup since they had a much higher pcie bus speed. Since the Sandy Bridge E X79 chipset had pcie 3.0, instead of 2.0 on the servers.

The other big advantage insome situations becomes how the bus is setup on the board. Are you sacrificing PCIE density so that you run management cards drive controllers vs a series of large 16x wide pcie cards.

To go a step further depending on the setup and just how much they are saturating the bus. It might be far cheaper to just use a high end desktop board, with PCIE bridging and switching capabilities. For a dual card setup, Than spending the extra cash on a socket 2011 box.

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Office render farm

A friend at a games company many moons back once told me they had an idea, why not give everyone in the office a high(ish) powered workstation and distribute the render farm through the office using unused cycles. That way everyone gets a decent workstation and they build the render farm for cheap.

They deployed said solution, one problem though, heat. Lots of heat, more than the feeble office aircon could handle, resulting in a lot of sweaty meat bags.

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SETI@Home

Clustering general purpose/home machines isn't a new idea. For something that needs a lot of GPU work it's not a bad idea, or in the case of SETI if you've got lots of spare CPU cycles going begging. What they do lack is the resiliency of full server class machines (no ECC memory for example).

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27320 x 3072 ?

I dont get it - 3072?

What the PPI like on this thing?

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Bah!

"very niche"????

Death is too good for the author of that.

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