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Thread: Canonical Announces The Orange Box $12k USD Ubuntu Cluster Suitcase

  1. #1
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    Default Canonical Announces The Orange Box $12k USD Ubuntu Cluster Suitcase

    Phoronix: Canonical Announces The Orange Box $12k USD Ubuntu Cluster Suitcase

    The Orange Box, which isn't to be confused with Valve's video game compilation, is a 10-node cluster computer designed by Canonical and TranquilPC for showing off Ubuntu Linux...

    http://www.phoronix.com/vr.php?view=MTY4ODc

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    There a lot of design choices I find confusing:
    * Why not just step it up to i7? To me, if you're trying to make a great compact cluster system, you want to go with the highest common denominator for logical threads, which in the case of x86 is 8.
    * Why didn't they use Xeons? It is a server, after all.
    * Why didn't they use ARM? Is it because of the memory? I kind of get the impression that Canonical is a leader in ARM based servers, so they'd stand out better if they made their own.
    * Where exactly are you supposed to put something like this? It won't fit in a rack and it's a bit long to put on a desk.
    * I don't see this being particularly effective as a cluster with all of the ethernet ports being external and each individual platform having its own SSD. I feel like it'd have made more sense if they put an internal switch with a NAS to do a network boot and then have 1 external Ethernet port.
    * Honestly, who is going to use wifi on this?
    * How exactly is 1 HDMI port supposed to get anything done? I get the impression that each individual system runs independently, so how do you switch between them?

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    Quote Originally Posted by schmidtbag View Post
    * How exactly is 1 HDMI port supposed to get anything done? I get the impression that each individual system runs independently, so how do you switch between them?
    There's individual HDMI and USB ports for each system on the bottom of the box. There is also an internal switch, them ethernet ports on the back are additional ones.

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    Quote Originally Posted by schmidtbag View Post
    There a lot of design choices I find confusing:
    * Why not just step it up to i7? To me, if you're trying to make a great compact cluster system, you want to go with the highest common denominator for logical threads, which in the case of x86 is 8.
    * Why didn't they use Xeons? It is a server, after all.
    * Why didn't they use ARM? Is it because of the memory? I kind of get the impression that Canonical is a leader in ARM based servers, so they'd stand out better if they made their own.
    * Where exactly are you supposed to put something like this? It won't fit in a rack and it's a bit long to put on a desk.
    * I don't see this being particularly effective as a cluster with all of the ethernet ports being external and each individual platform having its own SSD. I feel like it'd have made more sense if they put an internal switch with a NAS to do a network boot and then have 1 external Ethernet port.
    * Honestly, who is going to use wifi on this?
    * How exactly is 1 HDMI port supposed to get anything done? I get the impression that each individual system runs independently, so how do you switch between them?
    I agree. I think that two E3/E5 (6/8 cores, 12/16 threads) would have been cheaper and offered more performance. Also easier to use, as you get two powerful processors instead of 10 not-so-great cpus.
    You would also get everything on a single platform, instead of having to keep moving data around from NUC to NUC (and the 1gb link might be a bottleneck here).

    As for the HDMI port, I think those are supposed to run headless, so I understand why they put only one. I guess that the use case might be some distributed compiling or number crunching.

    Anyway, my opinion: useless product. It's not going to fit into a rack, it's not cheaper than a server and it's not better as well.
    But maybe I just don't know the "enterprise" needs.

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    Default Why do this Canonical?

    Why Canonical always names things like other video games products? Unity, Orange Box, what's next?

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    HyperThreading for virtualization isn't useful. It's better to disable it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Filiprino View Post
    HyperThreading for virtualization isn't useful. It's better to disable it.
    Are you suggesting you get more performance on a quad core vs a quad core with HT? But suppose that isn't what you meant - Xeons are largely specialized in VMs. If HT were so ineffective, AMD would be dominating the server market with their TRUE 8, 10, 12, and 16 core opterons.

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    Quote Originally Posted by schmidtbag View Post
    There a lot of design choices I find confusing:
    * Why not just step it up to i7?
    * Why didn't they use Xeons? It is a server, after all.
    Because this is based on Intel NUC boards. There is no i7 NUC. There is no Xeon NUC.

    Quote Originally Posted by schmidtbag View Post
    * Why didn't they use ARM? Is it because of the memory? I kind of get the impression that Canonical is a leader in ARM based servers, so they'd stand out better if they made their own.
    I guess because there are no good, affordable, server-class ARM boards. Most are either lowish-end Cortex-A7's or hobbled by USB-only I/O. The only server-class boards are far too expensive. Something based on i.MX6 (quad-core Cortex-A9 + SATA + GigE) could be half-decent - although it's limited to 4 GB of RAM and the GigE is limited to around 480 Mb/s.

    Plus there's still a lot of x86 assumptions in Linux software and not everything is ported (or working 100%). If you want something that's super easy to set up, you go x86. Hopefully that will change soon.

    Quote Originally Posted by schmidtbag View Post
    * I don't see this being particularly effective as a cluster with all of the ethernet ports being external and each individual platform having its own SSD. I feel like it'd have made more sense if they put an internal switch with a NAS to do a network boot and then have 1 external Ethernet port.
    There is a 16 port GigE switch in there. Can't you read?

    As for storage, it's better for each node to have fast access to local storage. You don't want to use the network for everything, there's too much latency.

    Quote Originally Posted by schmidtbag View Post
    * Honestly, who is going to use wifi on this?
    Maybe someone using this as a portable training or demo device?

    Quote Originally Posted by schmidtbag View Post
    * How exactly is 1 HDMI port supposed to get anything done? I get the impression that each individual system runs independently, so how do you switch between them?
    Seriously... have you never used a Linux system remotely? SSH and/or X11.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Filiprino View Post
    HyperThreading for virtualization isn't useful. It's better to disable it.
    Quote Originally Posted by schmidtbag View Post
    Are you suggesting you get more performance on a quad core vs a quad core with HT? But suppose that isn't what you meant - Xeons are largely specialized in VMs. If HT were so ineffective, AMD would be dominating the server market with their TRUE 8, 10, 12, and 16 core opterons.
    If the scheduler know that it's running on hyper threading it is faster as you can fill the CPU better.
    However if it doesn't you may get lower performance if the scheduler put two expensive tasks
    on the same core. This is the same problem AMD had with its modules before Windows started
    supporting them.

    I haven't tried but I expect that Linuxs scheduler supports hyper threading.

  10. #10
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    That's hilarious. Especially having that Wi-Fi antenna stuck on the back. But how many 12-year-olds could really afford one of these for a LAN party?

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