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January 1993


Paul Messina, Dan Davis, Tina Mihaly Pauna, California Institute of Technology

The California Institute of Technology operates an array of powerful parallel supercomputers on behalf of the Concurrent SuperComputing Consortium (CSCC), including the Intel Touchstone Delta System, a 56- compute node (Model A4) Intel Paragon, and the newest arrival-- a 512- compute node Intel Paragon (Model L38). As a member of the CSCC, the CRPC has access to these and other parallel machines at Caltech, with 75% of CRPC's time allocation on the Caltech computers allotted to members of the NSF community. At present, the Intel Delta and Paragon A4 computers, as well as a 64-node nCUBE/2, are all available for general use. Once the large Paragon completes acceptance testing, it too will be available for use by researchers across the country. Thus far, the new Paragon called "trex" (pronounced tee-reks, short for tyrannosaurus rex) has passed the production phase of acceptance testing and is now undergoing the interactive part of testing (more details below).

Without a doubt, the workhorse at Caltech is the venerable (almost three years old) Intel Touchstone Delta. The Delta, which uses a 16 x 36 two- dimensional mesh for internal communications, has a peak speed of 32 gigaflops, 16 megabytes of memory per node, and more than 90 gigabytes of online disk storage. Use of this powerful machine continues to grow, both in terms of the number of users and the number of hours of production work. Over the past year, use of the Delta more than doubled. Although at one time the plan was to phase out the Touchstone Delta when the CSCC's new, large Intel Paragon arrived at Caltech, high demand and continued interest by Delta users has resulted in Caltech keeping this prototype machine in operation. The Delta is expected to remain at Caltech through most of 1994; thus, Caltech will operate the Delta and the large Paragon concurrently for several months this year.

The 512-compute node Intel Paragon-- the CSCC's latest major computational resource--has a peak speed of 38.4 gigaflops and 67.2 gigabytes of online disk space. The flagship Paragon also has 14 RAIDs (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks), one Ethernet node, two HIPPI I/O nodes, and five service nodes. As currently configured, all the compute nodes have 32 megabytes of memory. Trex was delivered to Caltech at 9:00 am on December 10, 1993. The Intel installation crew had all nine cabinets wired and the machine booted by 6:00 pm that evening. Intel turned it over to Caltech for testing the following Monday. A week and a half later, trex successfully passed the production phase of its acceptance testing, which involved running a suite of 12 programs (many submitted by Delta users). It ran more than 26 consecutive hours without a reboot, easily satisfying the official 19-hour requirement for the production phase. Currently in progress is the interactive, multi- user, development phase of acceptance testing. As soon as trex completes acceptance testing, this machine will become available for production use. In the interim, a few "friendly users" from the CSCC community will be given a chance to experiment on trex.

As part of the purchase of the larger Paragon, a smaller Intel Paragon A4 was installed in February 1993. Named "raptor," this system has 32 megabytes of memory per node and three RAIDs. Raptor's compute nodes are arranged on a two-dimensional (4 x 16) mesh; each processor runs at 50 MHz. The small Paragon is being used primarily for the development of production codes to be run on the Touchstone Delta and/or the larger Paragon, once it becomes available.

Another computing resource at Caltech is the nCUBE. This machine is an interesting and very stable platform containing 64 nodes. It has a peak speed of 1.73 gigaflops. Based on a 64-bit, custom VLSI processor, the nCUBE is being used regularly by a few loyal customers.

One other major change occurred at the Caltech computing facilities in 1993: the Alliant file server system was replaced by a Convex C-210 computer. Sadly, Alliant Corporation went out of business in Spring 1993. Therefore, the CSCC's Alliant FX/800 (already in place at Caltech) had to be replaced with a system that would be maintained and whose software would continue to evolve. The CSCC's new Convex C-210, which runs the Unitree archival file system software, has 128 megabytes of memory, two HIPPI interfaces, two Metrum 2150 tape drives, and 15 gigabytes of disk space.

Other Computers Available for CRPC Researchers

In addition to the parallel computers at Caltech, CRPC scientists have access to the SP-1 at Argonne National Laboratory and the CM-5 at Los Alamos National Laboratory, as well as the Caltech/JPL CRAY T-30, which was installed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in late 1993. Finally, CRPC researchers who previously used the CSCC's 60-node Intel iPSC/860 machine at Caltech should request time on Argonne's iPSC/860, since Caltech's Gamma machine has been replaced by a new Paragon A4 system.

Paragon Programming Course Video Coming Soon

An introductory Paragon programming course was held on the Caltech campus in December 1993. A videotape of this course is being produced for users and will be available for distribution soon. To obtain this video, send email to techpubs@ccsf.caltech.edu , or call 818 395-3907.

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