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Our department has $16k to buy computer hardware for high performance computation. The purpose is to do simulation and data analysis using multithreaded applications written with MPI or GridGain, so we want low latency between the cores. Storage is not the highest priority.

We've no experience of server grade hardware before, but are familiar with clustering normal PCs running Debian.

People are keen on blades, but I'm not sure they will provide the maximum bang for buck. We are not a data centre and this $16k is likely to be the most money we will have to spend on server hardware for a long while. What other options should we be considering?

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Blades suck price wise.... problem is the blades are more expensive than the normal server AND you need to buy the center on top.

Try TYAN and SUPERMICRO.

They have multi node computers. 1 rack unit high = 2 separate computers, 2 rack units high = 4 separate nodes. Node = separate motherboard, discs etc. A LOT cheaper than blades.

For cross-Node-Communication your only real "low latency" technology is Infiniband (Supermicro has boards with Infiniband on board). Everything else is a number of manitudes higher latency.

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Excellent answer, with lots to think about. Thanks –  user56620 Oct 10 '10 at 19:30

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