[MUD-Dev] Re: TECH: Distributed Muds

Adam Martin amsm2 at cam.ac.uk
Fri Apr 20 11:31:09 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

----- Original Message -----
From: "Derek Snider" <derek at idirect.com>

> What would really be useful would be a modular super-computer design
> where you could easily "plug-in" more CPUs, RAM, hard-drives and
> network cards.  I know that sounds a little far-fetched, but I seem
> to recall hearing bits and pieces about such technologies emerging.

> If properly designed and implemented, you could have a system that
> could be upgraded constantly without rebooting.  If a CPU fails, it
> will be flagged as bad, a little red light will go on, and an
> operator can hot-swap it for a new one.  Same goes with hard-drives,
> memory and network cards.  If you want to replace an old component
> with a newer model, all you do is hot-swap it for a new one.  It
> might be a good idea to have it set up so that you press a little
> button on the component to let the system know to deactivate it
> before you remove it.

>From my understanding of their product-lines, IBM, SUN, etc have been
selling machines that work in exactly that way for some years
now. From memory, Deep Blue (or whatever IBM called their
Kasparov-beating supercomputer) was made of 100's or 1000's of modular
RS6000's plugged together, each RS6000 being a big black box which had
pluggable CPUs and RAM, and separate big boxes of hard-disks, all of
which are hot-swappable in big RAID5 arrays.

Certainly I recall that on some models, each time a component breaks
or starts to act iffy, the LCD panels on the front start warning you
precisely which component, how severe this is and what you should do
about it.

> I know this is straying off topic of "distributed muds", but if we
> had the right hardware, we could achieve a system where we could run
> everything off of one huge super-computer, and if it started to get
> over-loaded, we could add more cpu/memory/storage/bandwidth to it on
> the fly.

Yes, unfortunately starting price for a machine with approximately the
power of a typical desktop-PC is around $35,000. And they go up
fast. Main problem, again from my limited understanding, is that the
switching is very expensive to implement (all the big vendors use
state of that art as-high-speed-as-possible switching technologies in
order not to waste time on communication between those 2048 CPU's you
have ticking away)

Adam M

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