Microwulf: Cost Efficiency
When you have measured a supercomputer's performance using HPL,
and know its price, you can measure its cost efficiency
by computing its price/performance ratio.
By computing the number of dollars you are paying for each
floating point operation (flop),
you can compare one supercomputer's cost-efficiency against others.
With a price of just $2470
and performance of 26.25 Gflops,
Microwulf's price/performance ratio (PPR)
is $94.10/Gflop, or less than $0.10/Mflop!
This makes Microwulf
the first general-purpose Beowulf cluster to break
the $100/Gflop (or $0.10/Mflop) threshold
for measured double-precision floating point performance.
For comparison purposes:
cost more than 8 million dollars
and had a peak (theoretical maximum) performance of 250 Mflops,
making its PPR more than $32,000/Mflop.
Since peak performance exceeds measured performance,
its PPR using measured performance
(estimated at 160 Mflops) would be much higher.
cost more than 17 million dollars
and had a peak performance of 3.9 Gflops,
making its PPR more than $4,350/Mflop ($4,358,974/Gflop).
IBM's Deep Blue
defeated world chess champion Gary Kasparov.
Its price has been estimated at 5 million dollars,
and it produced 11.38 Gflops of measured performance,
making its PPR more than $439,367/Gflop.
In 2003, the U. of Kentucky's Beowulf cluster
cost $39,454 to build,
and produced 187.3 Gflops on the double-precision version of HPL,
giving it a PPR of about $210/Gflop.
Also in 2003, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's
National Center for Supercomputing Applications built
the PS 2 Cluster
for about $50,000.
No measured performance numbers are available;
which isn't surprising, since the PS-2 has no hardware support for double
precision floating point operations.
This cluster's theoretical peak performance is about 500 Gflops
showed that the PS-2's double-precision performance took
over 17 times as long as its single-precision performance.
Even using the inflated single-precision peak performance value,
its PPR is more than $100/Gflop;
it's measured double-precision performance is probably more than 17 times that.
In 2004, Virginia Tech built
which cost 5.7 million dollars,
and produced 12.25 Tflops of measured performance,
giving it a PPR of about $465/Gflop.
In 2007, Sun's Sparc Enterprice M9000
with a base price of $511,385,
produced 1.03 Tflops of measured performance,
making its PPR more than $496/Gflop.
(The base price is for the 32 cpu model,
the benchmark was run using a 64 cpu model,
which is presumably more expensive.)
At $94.10/Gflop, Microwulf is by far the most cost-efficient platform
available today for high performance double-precision computation.
While it may not provide Tflop performance, it provides more than twice
the general-computation performance of Deep Blue.
Microwulf thus offers significant computational power at a
highly affordable price.
Joel Adams >