Re: The next step: supercomputer via disparate nodes

David Feuer (
Thu, 3 Dec 1998 18:32:27 -0500 (EST)

Maybe a VLBI-type scheme would be more effective: A large percentage of
computers offer time on their systems, and a central, trusted body takes
proposals for projects. The approved ones get to use all the systems.
Each computer offers a certain fraction of processor time, so admins can
decide how much they want to put into the effort.

/ David Feuer \
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\ /

On Thu, 5 Nov 1998, Zack Brown wrote:

> Although this is not strictly on topic, it seems strongly related to a kind
> of kernel development. I checked out, and they seem to have
> a much different approach to the question. They are more concerned with
> parcelling out portions of a task, not with making an actual usable
> computer.
> Would anyone care to make predictions about when we might see a computer of
> this kind (and what obstacles stand in the way):
> 1) each node consists of a niced user-space program running on top of linux
> (i.e. participation in the whole does not require the dedication of all
> resources).
> 2) no node is more or less vital to the system than any other (!)
> 3) nodes can connect and disconnect at will via ppp or other mechanism
> (contributing cpu cycles for the time they are connected) without seriously
> disrupting the operation of the whole (if the node does not arrange to
> reconnect within a certain time (negotiated based on the assigned job), the
> job is reassigned). The way I envision it, a daemon is configured to watch
> (at intervals) for an internet connection. When it finds one it negotiates
> and connects to the whole.
> 4) nodes can locally select to include or exclude jobs (via config file)
> initiated by particular users. PGP authentication ensures identity of user.
> The effect of this is that most users won't actually be able to use the
> power of the computer, but various worthy causes will, because participants
> will include them in their config file.
> 5) any node can submit a job to the whole (so once you're connected, that's
> your login session).
> 6) a mailing list or newsgroup would serve for debates about the merits of
> particular tasks, in which various worthy causes could state their cases.
> 7) various "administrators" could maintain their own lists of worthy causes,
> which participants could choose to mirror, to avoid the noise of the
> discussion groups while still donating their cpu power to the supercomputer.
> Zack
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