In Search of Clusters by Gregory Pfister


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(Paperback - 2nd Revised & Updated Edition)

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  • Pub. Date: December 1997
  • 575pp
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    Product Details

    • Pub. Date: December 1997
    • Publisher:Prentice Hall
    • Format: Paperback, 575pp


    As Microsoft's much-touted "Wolfpack" Cluster Server shows, clustering technology has arrived in the marketplace. Clustering is now a strategic direction for Microsoft, Compaq, IBM, Sun, DEC, Novell, and every other large computer company – and their products are rolling out now. This comprehensive, highly-readable guide helps you make sense of clustering in all its forms, not just a single company's offering. Gregory Pfister – one of the world's most respected experts on clustering technology – delivers all the information you need to make critical strategic decisions. He introduces the primary hardware and software technologies involved in clusters, and shows why they have become popular – and will become increasingly important. He presents the background that system planners, purchasers, designers and architects need to make effective use of clustering. He compares different types of clusters and the workloads they are best used for. He presents a detailed comparison of clusters with symmetric multiprocessing -- demonstrating major differences that are often "papered over." The book contains extensive new coverage of availability issues, as well as detailed coverage of Non-Uniform Memory Access (NUMA), the technology at the heart of new offerings from Sequent, HP, Pyramid, NCR and others. "Pfister is a prophet with an attitude..." – Norris Parker Smith, HPCWire.


    The classic exposition of "The ongoing battle in lowly parallel computing" has been revised and updated. The prognostications and predictions of the first lucid and eminently readable edition have come to pass and become history. This humorous narrative guides you through the leading edge concepts and technologies that will define tomorrow's computers, their capabilities, and ultimately their use. It asks such fundamental questions as "What are clusters, and why use them?" Then goes on to define clusters, discuss hardware concepts, and more importantly examine the state of software.

    Simon Guerrero ( from Stone, Staffordshire UK ,
    04/23/98, rating=10:

    Learn about clusters without falling asleep

    About a month ago I started work on a project running on a small cluster and
    involving the Oracle 8 Parallel Server at a low level (writing the Distributed
    Lock Manager support libraries for a certain OS). At this point, I'd never used
    (or even seen!) a clustered system, and I knew nothing about clusters at all.
    Then a colleague loaned me the first edition of Dr Pfister's book. Unwilling
    to be over-eager to learn anything out of 'paid' time, I opened the book with
    some trepidation, expecting to find the usual dessicated prose and tons of
    TLAs. What a pleasant surprise! From the 'legal stuff' at the front of the book
    ('a kind of garlic'), right through to the bibliography ('I found this paper
    almost unreadable'), the author understands the need of the reader to remain
    conscious through what is potentially the dullest of subjects and emerge,
    slightly surprised ('Did I actually enjoy that?') at the other end. Thousands
    of college lecturers have a lot to learn from this man!

    The second edition of the book is more a re-write than an update, and just as
    packed with anecdotes, humour (right down to pseudo-Paul Simon lyrics - people
    were hanged for less in the Wild West), and at the same time, probably the most
    thorough explanations of the why/how/when/wheres of clustering you will find in
    any book. As the quote on the back says 'This book is what would happen if
    Scott Adams wrote a book on parallel computers'... Full marks!

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    GREGORY PFISTER obtained his Ph.D. from MIT. He has been an Instructor at MIT, an Assistant Professor at the University of California, Berkeley. For many years, he has been a member of IBM's R&D staff, currently at a senior level. He holds six patents in parallel processing.

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