Re: Linux, the microkernel (was Re: latest linus-2.5 BK broken)

From: Eric W. Biederman (
Date: Mon Jun 24 2002 - 05:59:43 EST

Sandy Harris <> writes:

> Larry McVoy wrote:
> > The interesting thing is to look at the ways you'd deal with a 1024 processors
> > and then work backwards to see how you scale it down to 1. There is NO WAY
> > to scale a fine grain threaded system which works on a 1024 system down to
> > a 1 CPU system, those are profoundly different.
> >
> > I think you could take the OS cluster idea and scale it up as well as down.
> > Scaling down is really important, Linux works well in the embedded space,
> > that is probably the greatest financial success story that Linux has, let's
> > not screw it up.
> Assuming we can get 4-way right, methinks Larry's ideas are likely to be a
> whole lot easier way to handle a 32 or 64-way box than trying to re-design
> the kernel sufficiently to do that well without destroying anything
> important in the 1<= nCPU <= 4 case. Especially so because 16 to 64-way
> clusters are common as dirt, and we can borrow tested tools. Anything that
> works on a 16-box Beowulf ought to adapt nicely to a 64-way box with 16
> of Larry's OSlets.

I wonder sometimes. With a 16 way cluster practically any tool will
work and not give you problems. I don't think many of the tools have
progressed beyond the make it work stage, and into polish yet.
> However, it is a lot harder to see that Larry's stuff is the right way
> to deal with a 1024-CPU system. At that point, you've got perhaps 256
> 4-way groups running OSlets. How does communication overhead scale, and
> do we have reason to suppose it is tolerable at 1024?

The rule is to communicate as little as possible. Because even if you
have a very low latency interconnect, with insane amounts of
bandwidth, it is needed for your application, not for cluster
management services.

> Also, it isn't as clear that clustering experience applies. Are clusters
> that size built hierachically? Is a 1024-CPU Beowulf practical, and if so
> do you build it as a Beowulf of 32 32-CPU Beowulfs? Is something analogous
> required in the OSlet approach? would it work?

A cluster with 960 compute nodes (each 2way) is being built for
Lawrence Livermore National Lab.
The insane part is the Lustre filesystem is going to be a 32 Node
cluster in and of itself.

So there will be experience out there.


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