Rasperry wrote: ↑
Wed Mar 04, 2020 2:15 pm
What is usability of 4x Raspberry Pi 4s ... a lot of people use it or is it just a toy for some niche applications?
While almost all computers these days have multiple cores arranged in what appears as a symmetric multiprocessor, far fewer sport multiple sockets and chiplets with nonuniform memory and fewer still are examples of clusters.
Of course each cluster consists of many computers connected together. For example, the Sunway TaihuLight internally connects 41,600 computers for a total of 10,649,600 CPU cores. The cluster we have at the school consists of about 119 computers some with GPUs for a total of 3,808 CPU cores and 168,960 CUDA cores. My super cheap cluster of Pi Zeros consists of 5 computers for a total of 5 CPU cores.
Compared to the Sunway the school's cluster is a toy; compared to the school's cluster my Pi cluster is a toy. At the same time, each of these are real clusters used for real work. I'm also rather thankful to have the Pi cluster at home rather than one of those bigger ones.
Many clusters are shared-use machines designed to solve general problems in computing. However, some were built for a niche: For example, running a particular program for
- Weather forecasting.
- Gene sequencing.
- Google searches.
- SETI at home.
- Mining bitcoins.
As many feel it is necessary to point out, clusters are not generally useful for the playing video games or word processing, though I suspect they play a role behind massively multiplayer games as well as online word-processing systems such as Google docs. Google also uses a pretty big cluster to run Gmail. Moreover, the bots and crawlers responsible for most web browsing likely run on clusters.
Some people view clusters as the tool to use only when more processing power is needed than can be provided by a single machine. However, clusters are also built for redundant reliability, distributed storage as well as research in parallel processing, distributed systems and process migration, among other things. Even through the super-cheap cluster has less processing power than a smart phone, it is still a real cluster that can be used for real work, for example, on the adaptive load-balanced implementation of recursive-parallel algorithms using message passing in distributed memory architectures.