Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Thinking of PlayStation 4 (PS4) Cluster

PS4 is finally unveiled along with its hardware specification. It would probably be a very nice system for HPC cluster, despite not officially. But there are several matters that I'm going to evaluate:

  1. The problem set that I'm planning to tackle involves Computational Fluid Dynamics that would be "enriched" with lot's of chemical equations as constraints in the not so distant future. Is this kind of workload suit the architecture? Moreover, the connectivity speed (max at GbE) between nodes of PS4 must be taken into account. Therefore, as Jack Dongarra, et.al put it (http://www.netlib.org/lapack/lawnspdf/lawn185.pdf), only compute intensive algorithm is best suited to game console HPC cluster. Because, only on problem types where you can keep the node busy and don't communicate intensively with each other--read within the GbE bandwidth--the game console HPC cluster would make sense. This means applications that inherently have a lot of "chatter" are best kept out of this kind of system.
  2. Installing Linux on the PS4 nodes. Is this going to be supported? or will it require some hacks? Well, probably Sony puts TPM hardware in the motherboard to prevent tampering with the (UEFI???) firmware. But, yeah, maybe I could do something about it?
This is just a food for thought at the moment but I think I'm going to go for it once PS4 is available. It would be worth trying. Another added "bonus" is the hUMA support in the machine (http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/191007/inside_the_playstation_4_with_mark_.php) is very intriguing for me. Despite AMD Kaveri CPUs would have them as well, it's much more interesting in PS4, given that the latter has 8GB GDDR5 main memory :D

Well, I ended up buying four Gigabyte Brix with Celeron 2955U CPUs (see: http://www.gigabyte.com/products/product-page.aspx?pid=4743#sp). It costs me around $1K along with 4GB RAM per-node at todays exchange rate. The unit itself supports up-to 16 GB RAM per-node. Therefore, I would be able to upgrade the units RAM once I'm playing around with "big data". Anyway, what's interesting is because Celeron 2955 CPU is actually a Haswell CPU, despite its meager 1.4GHz frequency.