The Cost Of KASY0

The following is the complete (or nearly so) parts list. It may be useful to compare this to our previous big system, KLAT2, whose pricing summary is given here. Notice that costs for all items must be tracked in order for us to justify our claims of setting a new price/performance record.

Subsystem Description Model/Part Number Vendor/Source Quantity Delivered Price
Node Athlon XP 2600+ Processor Athlon XP 2600+ Retail
(333MHz FSB) 128 $13690.00
Node Athlon XP 2600+ Processor Athlon XP 2600+ Retail
(333MHz FSB) 4 $400.00
Node 512MB PC2700 DDR SDRAM Crucial CT6464Z335 MWave.Com 132 $8316.00
Node Athlon XP Motherboard BioStar M7VIT Pro MWave.Com 132 $6996.00
Node Node case + 400W power supply 6042L Codegen 4GoldenBridge.Com 64 $2462.00
Node Node case + 400W power supply 6042L Codegen PineComputer.Com 68 $2380.00
Nodes Subtotal $34244.00
Network Fast Ethernet NIC Linksys LNE100TX AlanComputech.Com 280 $2082.00
Network 24-port Fast Ethernet Switch BenQ SE0024 NewEgg.Com 6 $432.00
Network 24-port Fast Ethernet Switch BenQ SE0024 AudioExchange.Com 10 $772.03
Network 24-port Fast Ethernet Switch BenQ SE0024 existing equipment 2 $152.00
Network Cat5e 15-foot Cable (9 colors) CBLC515 LanAdapters.Com 450 $807.95
Network Subtotal $4245.98
Support 6-Shelf Commercial Chrome Rack Sku# 831725 SamsClub.Com 6 $548.60
Support 20" Box Fan Lakewood Model 202 WalMart.Com 2 $22.09
Support Surge Protector Power Strip Stratitec 6-outlet Sku# 808571 SamsClub.Com 1 (32-pack) $173.64
Support Materials for power mounts BC Plywood, 2x4s, 7/8" dowels, glue, screws, paint local places/stock $20.00
Assembly Food for student helpers 4 dozen Panera Bagels, 11 large Papa John's Pizzas, 5 cases assorted soft drinks, 1 case party mix, 1 case Grandma's cookies, 2 cases miniture cheesecakes local places $200.00
Misc. Subtotal $964.33
Total $39454.31

We do not include the Nikon 950 camera which we have mounted in the cluster because it is completely unrelated to the cluster's operation, serving as a webcam and security monitor for the entire lab. Neither does the cost above include a firewall or a "head node," because the entire lab is behind an old PC used as a firewall and KASY0's configuration allows any of a number of existing machines to serve as "head nodes" for different purposes (i.e., KASY0 is a cluster of peer nodes). If we were to use included spare hardware for the firewall and head node, the only additional cost would be less than $100 for a disk drive.

The assembly cost might seem low, but we easily could have obtained comparable-performance assembled systems for similar pricing. In a university setting, it is simply more appropriate to give students the experience of building the systems and, as a side benefit, we get better control over the precise choice of components used and how they are assembled. For example, each case came with two side fans, which we converted into a redundant stack venting out the back. We also took a cost hit on doing our own assembly in a variety of ways; for example, shipping is higher for parts than for assembled systems. Another cost hit cam because we bought just 4 processors to test assemble systems with and only then ordered the other 128 -- had we ordered everything at once (as we would have for assembled systems), all the processors would have been purchased before a 7% price increase hit. We didn't cut corners on anything; note that we counted spares in the cost, the cases have 400W power supplies, the processors have full warranty retail packages, and even the power strips came with surge protection and full insurance for the protected equipment.

Thus, KASY0's "street cost" is under $40,000 by any accounting. In comparison, KLAT2's "street cost" was $41,205 for just 64+2 nodes, each of which was about 1/3 the speed of a KASY0 node. The memory size is also 4x per node, 8x total. Network latency typically will be identical, with total bandwidth about 1.5x that of KLAT2. The accounting of the network cost is somewhat debatable in that each node motherboard contains one built-in NIC; we counted that NIC as part of the node cost, not network cost, because the board isn't available without the NIC. Even if we had ignored the built-in NIC and purchased more NICs, the network on KASY0 is close to half the cost of that on KLAT2 -- after all, it even uses narrower switches than KLAT2 did: 24-port vs. 32-port switches.

An even cuter comparison is with this, a $50,000+ system built using 70 PlayStation2 units. Not only does KASY0 have a vastly superior network and significantly higher floating point performance per node (8 GFLOPS vs. 6.5 GFLOPS for the PS2), but we get LOTS more nodes!

For those interested in how this compares to UK's SDX HP Superdome, the quick answer is that the two machines are very different, but have roughly comparable performance. The HP is a vendor-packaged system with more processors (224 total: 3x64 + 1x32 750MHz HP PA-RISC 8700), more memory (448GB), and a higher double-precision speed (672 GFLOPS peak, 431.7 GFLOPS Linpack). On the other hand, KASY0's integer and single-precision speeds are faster (e.g., 1062.4 GFLOPS peak, 471.5 GFLOPS Linpack), it is a homogeneous system (not a cluster of different-sized shared memory systems), and power consumption is several times lower. Oh yeah: KASY0 also is much cheaper!

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