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January 1993

Intel Paragon Installed at Caltech

The CRPC Caltech site received a new Intel Paragon XP/S Model A4 computer on February 8, 1993. The delivery of this new resource is the beginning of a process that will eventually result in the replacement of the Delta by a Paragon with a comparable number of nodes. Researchers will initially use the new Paragon to begin the process of moving the site's workload to the new environment.

Although there are many similarities between the Delta and the Paragon, there are also important differences. In a sense, the new Paragon will play a role similar to that played by the 64-node iPSC/860, namely for the development of programs that will run on the future 500- node production version of the Paragon. The Paragon is Intel's new commercial product for which the Delta was the prototype. Consequently, Paragon systems are very similar to the Delta systems in hardware, but there are important differences in the software.

The Paragon at Caltech has 56 computational nodes, each with 16 megabytes of memory; three mass storage RAID arrays (each array has five disks) with a total capacity of over 14 gigabytes, managed by three I/O nodes; one multiuser service node; one backup four mm DAT tape drive; and an ethernet interface. In the late spring, memory size will double to 32 mega- bytes and one HIPPI channel will be added. The peak speed of this Paragon is four gigaflops. The processors used are Intel 860 model XPs, in contrast to the 860 model XR processors used by the Delta and iPSC/860 machines. The 860 XP is 25% faster in peak speed, but should be almost twice as fast for many applications because it has larger caches and much higher internal bandwidth. The Paragon has the same two-dimensional mesh topology as the Delta, with similar but much faster mesh-routing chips. The hardware speed of the node-to-node communication channels is 200 megabytes per second.

The new operating system is OSF/1. It is a true UNIX system, modified to be compatible with parallel processing. There are many new features, both internal ones (such as paging and swapping) and user-visible ones (such as interactive parallel debuggers, performance profilers, etc.) The operating system has an NX message-passing compatibility feature; thus user programs already adapted successfully to the Delta should port readily to the new system.

Support staff are currently running system acceptance tests and will port some programs. Once they understand the behavior of the operating system, a limited group of selected users will use the system. By mid- April or May, the Paragon will become a generally available resource. CRPC researchers also have access to other Paragons, including the large 1,000-node system at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and a 56-node system at Rice University.

Source: CSCC Update, March 1993

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