We have designed, implemented. and are running a corporate-wide distributed processing batch queue on a large number of networked workstations using the UNIX operating system. Atlas Wireline researchers and scientists have used the system for over a year. The large increase in available computer power has greatly reduced the time required for nuclear and electromagnetic tool modeling. Use of remote distributed computing has simultaneously reduced computation costs and increased usable computer time.
The system integrates equipment from different manufacturers, using various CPU architectures, distinct operating system revisions, and even multiple processors per machine. Various differences between the machines have to be accounted for in the master scheduler. These differences include shells, command sets, swap spaces. memory sizes, CPU sizes. and OS revision levels. Remote processing across a network must be performed in a manner that is seamless from the users' perspective. The system currently uses IBM RISC System/6000, SPARCstation, HP9000s 700, HP9000s 800, and DEC Alpha AXP machines.
Each CPU in the network has its own speed rating, allowed working hours, and workload parameters. The system is designed so that all of)he computers in the network can be optimally scheduled without adversely impacting the primary users of the machines.
The increase in the total usable computational capacity by means of distributed batch computing can change corporate computing strategy. The integration of disparate computer platforms eliminates the need to buy one type of computer for computations. another for graphics. and yet another for day-to-day operations. It might be possible. for example. to meet all research and engineering computing needs with existing networked computers. It may, on the other hand. be advantageous to buy more powerful computers than required for a particular application. so that extra capacity can be applied to other problems by means of the batch scheduler.
The scientific computing environment has changed significantly in the past few years. Desktop workstations available today are more powerful and far less expensive than super computers used a few years ago. This made complex numerical calculations and computer simulations both feasible and affordable for many users. With the continuing increase in processing speed and decline in price of workstations. tremendous computing power can be obtained with a relatively small investment.
UNIX workstations are also used for nonscientific purposes such as computer-aided drafting, engineering design. accounting, sales, and desktop publishing. While many of these computers are fully utilized during the day, they sit idle during the night, weekends, and holidays.