This document provides information regarding the hardware design of the BEAM Beowulf systems. The systems are based upon a number of 'identical' PC architecture computers. Each computer, or node as we shall often later refer, contains two Pentium II micro-processors, 128MBytes or more of memory, significant amounts of local disk storage and a 100Mb/sec fast ethernet card.  The nodes are phycially interconnected by the use of a 'wire-speed' ethernet switch. This 'wire-speed' capability allows any pair of nodes to communicate at full bi-directional wire speed of 200Mbits/sec regardless of  other node traffic.The group of nodes (cluster) is seperate from any other network and employs is own private IP network address. However, one of the nodes in the cluster is designated to be the beowulf host node and as such differs in that in contains two NIC (ethernet) cards, and can act as a Gateway to other networks.

Each node is contained in an industrial style case. All electrical connections are made to the rear of the units. Server & Node Internal Specifications

Keyboard & VGA Switch box

While most of the time a user will access the cluster via use of the root node and thence remote login to other nodes, we have provided the ability to quickly connect a keyboard and monitor between any of the nodes. This allow an administrator direct access to each node. The switch box is very simple to use, simply press the appropriate radio button to attach the keyboard and monitor pair to the desired node.


The Ethernet Switch

All the nodes are interconnected via an Allied Telesyn CentreCom 8118 ethernet switch unit. This units facitlitates full duplex 100Mbits/s interconnection between any two nodes.

The ethernet interconnections are all made via the 16 front panel connectors. Each socket is functionally identical and connections may be made in an arbitrary manner. The activity leds located to the right of the patch panel indicate activity, interface speed and may be used for basic diagnostics. The internal setup of the unit has been factory configured at BEAM. The configuration can be viewed and modified by the user of a web browser, from the server simply enter the name "switch" as the requested URL in your browser. The online pdf documentation available via the manufacturers web site has for convienence been downloaded and made available.

Hardware User Guide
Software User Guide

Back to index