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The first LinuxBIOS cluster, see SC 2000.
Ed, a 128 node Alpha cluster running LinuxBIOS.

This page exists for historical reasons since these are the first systems that ever ran LinuxBIOS (what became coreboot).

SC 2000

The first LinuxBIOS cluster, built at SC 2000, now at LANL

News Flash! Magnus Svensson is the first (and only) to correctly identify the rack below as an old Digital rack that contained a couple of drives with platter-sized disks and a washing machine style drive.

We took a 16 node cluster to SC00 in Dallas, TX. It was the first LinuxBIOS cluster and despite the fact that Dallas sucked, this cluster sucked less.

The cluster was comprised of the following:

  • Frontend Node
    • 1-4U box with the Acer Aladdin TNT2
  • 16 LinuxBIOS-Based Cluster Appliance Nodes
    • 13-1U Linux Labs Nodes with the SiS 630E chipset
    • 1-4U box with the SiS 630E chipset
    • 2 mid-towers with the SiS 630E chipset
  • Network
    • Packet Engines 20 port switch

The frontend node ran the Scyld Beowulf clustering software. The appliance nodes ran LinuxBIOS out of the Millenium Disk on Chip and the Scyld Beowulf node boot program. We used the cluster to run various programs (NAS MG, K-Means clustering, 2-D Elasticity, etc.) written in the ZPL programming language.

Setting up the cluster

Cluster setup.
Burning DoC.

On the left, uniformed laboratory employees help prepare the cluster before the show floor opens. On the right, Ron burns a Millenium Disk on Chip to complete the cluster.

Our part of the LANL booth


The front end node, the switch and most of the Linux Labs nodes are in the rack on the right. On the left, a VA Linux node running LinuxBIOS sits on top of dirtball, the flash-burnin', all around utility machine.

Front and side views of the cluster

LinuxBIOS cluster.
Side of cluster.

The majority of the cluster was housed in a rack we got out of lab salvage (a prize to the first person who can identify what machinery the rack came from). The cluster was the only one on the floor to have bestowed upon it the coveted "THIS CLUSTER SUCKS LESS" award from Scyld (see picture on right).

The hardware

Open node.
Naked node.

We left one of the Linux Labs nodes open (left) and following Ollie Lho's lead at ALS in Atlanta, we also left a completely naked node (right) on the table.

Help from our friends

Scyld guys.

The guys from Scyld came by to eat candy and help us out.

Other visitors

More debugging.
Buck visits.

On the left, Ron and Mitch (a colleague from the lab) track down a problem with one of the nodes. On the right, Ron explains the cluster to the Deputy Director of our division, Buck Thompson.


A 50 GFlops Compaq DS10 Alpha cluster, LANL


Upgrade of the first LinuxBIOS cluster


Simple Highly Reliable Embedded Komputer



4/22/2002: The lunchbox gets a makeover!

Bento, aka the lunchbox cluster, is our newest LinuxBIOS/BProc cluster. Okay, so it's really in a toolbox, so think of it as a lunchbox for the really hungry. Thanks to Rob Armstrong and Mitch Williams of the Embedded Reasoning Institute at Sandia - Livermore for turning us on to this hardware. They're way ahead of us in terms of picking out good, small iron since they're sending their's up in the nose cone of a missle.

Front-end: IBM Thinkpad T23 (Ron's laptop) running BProc from the Clustermatic W2002 release

7 smartCoreP5 nodes from Digital Logic running LinuxBIOS configured with BProc support

1 (one) naked 3Com 100 Mb HUB (removed from it's case)

3 IBM Thinkpad 12 V power bricks

1 (one) Master Mechanic yellow plastic toolbox

This is a nice little demo unit to take around the country. It's been through a lot already -- Ron's was randomly selected to have his all his bag searched ("uh, what's that?" said security), and now he's blacklisted forever. But more importantly, it's been great way for us to get real, kernel-level development work done while traveling. For example, in Houston Matt was able to work on Supermon when (not) in meetings. Ron integrated Lm_sensors into Supermon in California. You just can't do that unless you have a cluster that can be easily rebooted (i.e., on-site).


The rebuilt lunchbox

The lunchbox cluster recently underwent a change. The change was motivated by the need to improve the use of mounting hardware, replace the hub with a switch, and cooling issues in the case. We've renamed it "DQ" -- we'll let you guess what that means.

Here's the parts list:

Front-end: Ron's IBM Thinkpad T23 or Erik's IBM Thinkpad X20 or Sung' Sony VAIO Z505JS.

6 smartCoreP5 nodes from Digital Logic running LinuxBIOS configured with BProc support (one less than the lunchbox due to the spacers required to make better use of the mounting hardware)

1 (one) NetGear 100 Mb switch (with its own power brick)

2 IBM Thinkpad 12 V power bricks

1 (one) CD storage case

1 pink fuzzy strap


Multiprogrammatic Capability Cluster, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory


Single Evolucity chassis dual 2.4 GHz P4 Myrinet cluster, LANL


1 TeraFlop dual 2.4 GHz P4 Myrinet cluster, LANL


A Science Appliance, 9.6 TeraFlop 1024-node dual 2.4 GHz P4 Myrinet cluster, LANL