HPC on the Cheap(ish) Background

One of my hobbies has been building/tinkering with computers. This goes back to when I was about 5 years old, and I remember we purchased an IBM PC 8080 Clone. Since then I have built 8080’s, 80286’s, 80386 based machines, Pentium’s, etc.. While doing my residency, I built my first “cluster” using a couple of HP machines and used this to parallelize FSL, which is a program I use to do some neuroimaging process. A given run would take about 4 days, but by installing Sun Grid Engine (now Oracle Grid Engine) I was able to speed that up into a couple of hours. Since then I have been a huge performance of High Performance Computing. Technically the first thing I hacked was either Low or Medium Performance Computing (3-4 nodes), but it’s been something I enjoy playing around with. Over the past 3-4 years, I’ve been hobbling together a cluster of my own, which now has ~45 nodes. I’m going to discuss some of the strategies I’ve used to assemble my cluster…. on the relative “cheap”.