Microwulf: Related Systems

Since Tim and I built Microwulf back in 2007, I've been contacted by a number of people who have built their own clusters that they said were inspired by the Microwulf design. I thought it would be fun to collect them and other related systems all together on a single page. You can click on any of the pictures to get a larger image.

The first people to contact me with pictures of a working Microwulf-inspired system were Sumesh, Arif, and Alok, three 8th semester CS students from the IHRD College of Engineering, Attingal, in India.

Like Microwulf, the Attingal cluster's nodes all have dual-core CPUs, they all boot from a single hard disk, and the nodes communicate via Gigabit Ethernet. They report they had access to "cheap cases" so they used them rather than building a custom small-form-factor case.

A cluster from RHRD College of Engineering, Attingal
The second working "offspring" I heard about was "CamWulf", built by a student known only to us as o21171, who was studying EET at Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma (USA).

CamWulf looks to follow the Microwulf design pretty closely.

A Microwulf-inspired cluster from Cameron University
The third "offspring" I heard about was from "DeWang", a PhD student at the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China in Chengdu, China.

Like CochinWulf (above), this cluster follows the Microwulf design, but it puts each node in a separate case..

A cluster from the University of Electronic Science
             and Technology in China
The next related cluster I heard about was Norbert, a cluster based on the design from the Limulus Project (LInux MULti-core Unified Supercomputer), which is the brainchild of Jeff Layton and Doug Eadline.

Jeff was a co-author of our 2007 article on the ClusterMonkey website, which Doug runs.

A cluster from Jeff Layton and Doug Eadline
The next "offspring" I heard about was Quadrowulf, built by Justin Moore and Dr. Hayden S. Porter at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina (USA).

Quadrowulf was, to our knowledge, the first Microwulf-style cluster to use quad-core CPUs.

Their website provides excellent documentation of the software configuration process. All of their project photos are available at Justin's Picasaweb site.

A Microwulf-inspired cluster from Furman University
The next "offspring" system I heard about was "BlueWulf", built by Chad Nelson, who lives in Virginia (USA). A Microwulf-inspired cluster from Virginia
The next "offspring" I'll call "ErnstWulf", since it was built by Dan Ernst at the University of Wisconsin - Eu Claire, in Eu Claire, Wisconsin (USA). A Microwulf-inspired cluster from the University of Wisconsin - Eu Claire
It apparently wasn't inspired by Microwulf, but Helmer is a rendering cluster in an IKEA cabinet, built by Janne at Svensk Film Effekt in Upsala, Sweden.

The Helmer website provides a nice level of detail describing the project.

It has enough similarities that I thought it worthwhile to include it here for others to enjoy.

(If you've read this far, I'm assuming you're enjoying this!)

A cluster from
The next "offspring" cluster I heard about was "David 1", built by Michael Everhart, Brad Eidschun, Scott Munizza, and Dr. Jose D'Arruda at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, in Pembroke, North Carlina (USA). A Microwulf-inspired cluster from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke
The next "offspring" system I heard about was "Grendel", built by Jason Bowen at the University of California at San Francisco, in San Francisco, California (USA).

He uses it in their Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging for "image processing, reconstructions, data analysis, etc."

A Microwulf-inspired cluster from the University of California at San Francisco
Next was Slayer, the Microwulf of Marquette, built by masters students Adam Koehler and Michael Schultz under the guidance of Dr. Craig Struble in the Dept of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science at Marquette University, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (USA).

Adam sent me this note: One design alteration of note is that we chose to have the top most layer only have the upward facing slave node. This allows for easy viewing and description of parts of the nodes when explaining to students at fairs held by local high schools or junior highs. Also contrary to many of the implementations, Slayer is fully enclosed by plexiglass; another design choice partially based on not wanting wandering fingers touching the cluster's parts.

The Slayer website documents their project nicely. They even have color-coded their intake fans (blue) and exhaust fans (red)!

A Microwulf-inspired cluster from Marquette University
Another related cluster is this cool, 2-node, 4-CPU mini-cluster built by Laurent Damay (lolobrin), somewhere in France, I think.

Using some of the ideas of Microwulf, the two-node design eliminates the need for a switch, since you can just connect the nodes using a cross-over cable.

This cluster uses a different version of Linux (Debian), uses OpenMosix to share memory across the nodes, and uses PVM instead of MPI. I like it, because it shows you can build a useful mini-cluster without sticking to the Microwulf recipe.

His site also includes several nicely documented parallel programming examples.

(If your French skills are like mine, you may find Google Translate to be useful.)

A Microwulf-inspired cluster from
Another is Pangloss, a cluster built by Richard Faulkner, Garrett Richard, Ojasvi Dubey, Rubab Sayeed, Evan O'Donovan, Kent Klymenko, and Cameron McInally at Fordham University in Bronx, New York (USA).

They were hoping to use it to calculate PI using the Leibniz method, but they seem to have had some motherboard problems.

Since they got three of the four nodes working, they get an 'A' for effort...

A Microwulf-inspired cluster from Fordham University
Another is the tinyHPC cluster by Mukarram Ahmad, a student at Duke University, in Durham, North Carolina (USA).

His system started out small, but has grown significantly since the start.

A Microwulf-inspired cluster from Duke University
Another work in progress is the SCrappy Cluster by Jason Ernst at the University of Guelph, in Ontario, Canada. A Microwulf-inspired cluster from the University of Guelph
Another system based on Microwulf is Ukeinwulf, a 6-node cluster constructed by the synthetic and theoretical inorganic chemist Dr. Dimitris Manganas and the electrical engineer George Manganas. Each node has an AMD Phenom (quad core) CPU, providing 24 cores total. It is programmed and administrated by Dr. Manganas.

Currently Ukeinwulf equips the computational facilities of the inorganic chemistry group of professor Dr. Panayiotis Kyritsis in the University of Athens.

Dr. Manganas is using it for ab initio quantum chemical calculations in synthetic biomimetic complexes.

Please click the picture for more details.

A Microwulf-inspired cluster from the University of Athens
The Kunkunguo group from the College of Material Science and Engineering of Hunan University has also built a Beowulf cluster based on Microwulf, to help them conduct research on shapes of biological membranes. They were also kind enough to send this list of updates to Tim's system configuration notes. A Microwulf-inspired cluster from Hunan University
George Perdrizet built Vostok, a cluster of laptops he configured by following our instructions. More comments are available on reddit. Vosktok: A Microwulf-inspired cluster from George Perdrizet
Libby Shoop and her students at Macalester College built Rosie and Rosie2.0 (shown at right), a 6-node cluster built from Nvidia Jetson TK-1 single board computers. Each Jetson has a quad-core ARM processor and a 192-core CUDA-capable GPU. Rosie2.0's nodes all share a common solid-state drive (SSD), communicate through a Gigabit Ethernet switch, are all powered by a single power supply, and the system is powered on with a single on-off switch. A Microwulf-inspired cluster named Rosie from Libby Shoop

That's all of the related systems and pictures I know of. Many other people have contacted me and said they were planning to build personal clusters based on the Microwulf design; so I have no doubts that there are other related systems out there.

If you have built a Microwulf-inspired cluster, please send me a picture, any other relevant information, and I'll add it to this page. If you have a project website, include the URL and I'll include that too.

Finally, I've also heard from people who have built small-footprint, computationally-dense clusters that predate Microwulf and Little Fe. These systems include:

I hope you've enjoyed reading about these "relatives" of Microwulf. It's been fun to collect them all together in one place!

Joel Adams > Research > Microwulf > Related Systems