Kentucky Research AMD Athlons, Z - Multiple PCs (KRAA Z-MP)

The KRAA Z-MP (pronounced "crazy M P") is a sub-$10,000 cluster built as a demonstration of all our new technologies and to compete in the HPC (High Performance Computing) Games at SC2000.

What happened at the HPC games? Of 656 benchmarks on which scores were reported, Rome Labs won/tied 418, we got 225, a PowerPC G4 cluster got 27, and a Pentium Pro cluster got 9 -- overall, 96% of the benchmarks were won by Athlons. Rome Labs entered a cluster of Athlons that was very similar to the KRAA Z-MP, but used a standard 100Mb/s network to connect sixteen 700MHz Athlons and one 1.1GHz Athlon. The result was that Rome was able to run all the benchmarks, but we had many that we simply could not run (e.g., PVM doesn't understand the KRAA Z-MP's FNN, so we were unable to run any of the PVM benchmarks). Rome also used a newer version of GCC that has been partially tuned for the Athlon, allowing their system to beat the KRAA Z-MP on some benchmarks. Anyway, the KRAA Z-MP won the "Most Innovative Architecture" award in the HPC Games... and it blew away the competition in the benchmarks that were related to its special features, such as the bisection bandwidth benchmarks or the few benchmarks where we were able to legitimately use our 3DNow! support (e.g., some of the cache benchmarks). We did not have time to use the AFN for any of the benchmarks.

The remainder of this page contains a set of overview slides followed by a detailed accounting of the cost of the KRAA Z-MP.

Overview Slides

The following slides, which were created to be displayed on the KRAA Z-MP's video wall during SC2000, explain a bit more about the design of the machine.

The Cost

The cost of the KRAA Z-MP is summarized in the following table (also available as .ps and .pdf files). Note that the Asound NICs turned out to be a very bad choice: they were manufactured with a burr on the card edge connector which literally destroyed some of the PCI slots. This level of manufacturing defect is obvious (once a board is tried) and inexcusable.

We wish to thank AMD for their generous support of our work, both in providing us with the Athlon processors and in helping us to afford building the KRAA Z-MP and showing it at SC2000.

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