Hack-a-Thon II to Put Distributed Coding Skills to Test

Terra Soft Solutions, the developer of Yellow Dog Linux and the HPC Consortium, will hold Hack-a-Thon II in Austin, Texas, Sept. 22-25, two days prior to the start of its four-day Power Architecture Developer Conference.

Hack-a-Thon participants will work on a six-node Sony PlayStation 3 cluster to test their parallel and distributed coding skills. The PS3 runs the Yellow Dog Linux operating system.

This year’s event will expand upon the successes of last year’s initial goals for the Hack-a-Thon. It focused on using the Sony PS3s in a cluster, giving demonstrations for the use of Terra Soft Solution’s Y-HPC Cluster Construction suite, Cluster Resources’ Torque and Moab and Mercury’s MultiCore Framework SDK, said Kai Staats, CEO of Terra Soft Solutions.

The event provides attendees with a unique opportunity to work with a new kind of commodity cluster for development and testing of science and engineering applications for the Cell processor, said Tim Wilcox, sales engineer for Terra Soft.

Moving On

The original Hack-a-Thon offered a hands-on experience with what was then a brand-new, nearly impossible to find Cell processor. It brought people from all walks of computer life into a single room for eight days, Staats said.

“The peer-to-peer interaction was as important as the presentations by the experts. The food was 100-percent home-cooked and served hot while we worked from couches purchased at the Goodwill just days prior while snow storms raged outside,” Staats told LinuxInsider.

Making Progress

In the six months following last year’s Hack-a-Thon, Terra Soft rebuilt the infrastructure in preparation for growth. That work involved combining G-Forge (the open-source foundation for Source Forge) with LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) and a member wiki for seamless user account across the build-box, QS20 blades and PS3 cluster, he said.

LDAP is an Internet protocol that e-mail and other programs use to look up information from a server.

The work enabled Terra Soft to prepare new systems for rapid deployment, seamlessly dropping into the existing system, Staats explained.

Cluster Training

Terra Soft will offer a hands-on workshop for the installation of Yellow Dog Linux, compute image deployment via Y-HPC, and use of Torque and Moab for job management.

When netbooting a compute node, the cluster head node (server) offers a ramdisk image which executes in memory (RAM) on the compute node, formats the local drive (if present), pulls-down the entire image (snapshot of a complete, functional OS), and reboots, explained Staats.

“It sounds simple, but when done right it makes building a cluster a very enjoyable process. Y-HPC offers this,” he said.

Y-HPC is Terra Soft’s cluster construction suite for both the x86 and Power Architecture.

Torque and Moab together offer a process (job) queuing and management interface to cluster users. Developed by Cluster Resources, these two applications together have become the industry standard, according to Staats.

Still Time

Those interested in participating in Hack-a-Thon II can sign up by visiting HPC Consortium’s registration page.

The event is open to programmers and cluster users of all experience. Availability is limited to the number of available Cell systems and facility accommodations.

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