From: CrayFaq0220@SpikyNorman.net Newsgroups: comp.unix.cray, comp.sys.super, comp.answers, news.answers Subject: Cray Supercomputer FAQ Approved: news-answers-request@MIT.EDU Followup-To: poster Summary: This article is a FAQ about Cray supercomputers. Archive-name: computer/system/cray/faq Last-modified: Dec 2003 Distribution: World Version: 1.1.0 URL: http://www.SpikyNorman.net/ Copyright: (c) 1999 "Fred Gannett" Maintainer: Fred Gannett <CrayFaq0220@SpikyNorman.net>
This Cray supercomputer Faq is split into sections, Part 1 describes Cray supercomputer families, Part 2 is titled "Tales from the crypto and other bar stories", part 3 is "FAQ kind of items", part 4 is titled "Buying a previously owned machine" and part 5 is "Cray machine specifications". Corrections, contributions and replacement paragraphs to CrayFaq0220@SpikyNorman.net. Please put XMP at the start of the subject line to distinguish it from the spam. Please see copyright and other notes at the end of each document. Note: Part 3 is the only part posted to newsgroups, the latest version of this and the rest of the documents can be located in http format just down from:
Cray Research (CRI), the original founded by Seymour Cray Jr. in 1972 bought by SGI in 1996. Now considered a seperate business unit within SGI from 1999. Sold to Tera computer corp in 2000.
Cray Computer Corporation, spun off from CRI to Colorado Springs. 1989 .. 1995
Cray Labs research arm of Cri in Boulder in the early 1980s.
Cray Communications, Not related, changed name to Anite corp.
Cray Electronics ditto.
CraySoft, a venture to exploit the compiler technology and expertise of the application software development group. This lead to the interesting fact the each time a program was compiled on a T3e the compile script checked to see if the machines was running Solaris!
SuperTek, original developer of the XMS, was bought in 1989 by CRI
Floating point systems, original developer of the CS6400, folded in 198?, assets bought by CRI. Was sometimes known as Cray Research Superservers (CRS)
SSI, Supercomputer systems Inc, founded by Steve Chen chief architect of the YMP.
Tera inc, The company that bought the Cray name and bussiness from SGI in March 2000.
Crayfaq@spikynorman.net, Caryfaq@spikynorman.net, Newsposter@spikynorman.net, These email addresses have been discontinued and blackholed due to the huge quantity of spam sent to them. Please use the current email address CrayFaq0220@.... for communications about this faq and put XMP at the start of the subject line to distinguish it from the junk..
All CPU chassis, SSD chassis and in the larger machines IOS chassis had serial numbers but the CPU chassis number was taken as the main system designation. From the serial number it is possible to get a general indication of the model type as different ranges of machines were grouped into ranges of numbers. The structure of the model designation varied but often indicated the max. number of CPUs that could be installed, the chassis size, and sometimes the memory size.
Cray Research System Serial numbers Machine type <100 Cray 1 1nn XMP 2 CPUs 2nn XMP 4 CPUs 3nn XMP 1 CPU 4nn XMP 2 CPUs 5nn XMP 1 CPU (SE) 6nn Cray/ELS XMS 1 CPU 10nn YMP 8 CPUs, Model D IOS 11nn XMP/EA 4 CPUs 12nn XMP/EA 2 CPUs 13nn XMP/EA 1 CPU (SE) 14nn YMP 2 CPUs, Model D IOS 15nn YMP 4 CPUs, Model D IOS 16nn YMP 2 CPUs, Model E IOS 17nn YMP 8 CPUs, Model E IOS YMP8I 18nn YMP 8 CPUs, Model E IOS YMP8E 19nn YMP 4 CPUs, Model E IOS 20nn Cray 2, 2/4 CPUs 2101 Cray 2, 8 CPUs 24nn Cray YMP/M94 4 CPU 26nn Cray YMP/M92 2 CPU 28nn Cray YMP/M98 8 CPU 3nnn SV-1 40nn C90 16 CPUs 42nn C92A 2 CPU 43nn D92A 2 CPU 44nn C94A 4 CPU 46nn C94 4 CPU 47nn D94 4 CPU 48nn C98 8 CPU 49nn D98 8 CPU 5nnn ELs 60nn T3d 61nn T3d Included an internal YMP2E + IOS 62nn T3d 63nn T3e 300 - liquid cooled 65nn T3e 600 - air cooled 66nn T3e 600 - air cooled 67nn T3e 900 - liquid cooled 68nn T3e 900 - liquid cooled 69nn T3e 1200 - liquid cooled 70nn T94 4 CPU 71nn T916 16 CPU 72nn T932 32 CPU 9nnn J90 95nn J90 32 CPUs
The < 100 series can be further subdivided, among the Cray-1, Cray-1A, Cray-1S, and Cray-1M lines. SN101 was the first XMP with 2 cpus
Eugene R. Somdahl posted in c.u.c The 1Ms were 1Ss with MOS memory. I believe only six (ED up to a dozen says Eugene Miya) were built. Plus one that wound up as "scrap" running CTSS for several years in a basement in Chippewa Falls. This was the machine on which much of the Y-MP (and later Chen's MP project) design work was done.
To which Ed Barnard Adds " In fact the CRAY-1M serial number 9 that went to ARAMCO (now Saudi Aramco) in Dhahran Saudi Arabia mid-1984, was the last CRAY-1M. There *had* been up to a dozen made. However, in Chippewa Falls on the system checkout floor, serial 10 suddenly got renamed an XMP 1. I understand the serial 10 CPU was in fact an XMP type CPU, as compared to serial 9 which was definitely a CRAY-1 type CPU.
I'm not absolutely certain of the serial 10 details except that it was suddenly relabeled from CRAY-1 to CRAY-XMP/1, during the factory trial period of serial 9. The systems beyond serial 10 were, I presume, likewise relabeled.
I was part of the Aramco crew, and do still have a memory module from when CRAY-1M serial 9 was decommissioned, the last CRAY-1 ever manufactured.
By the by, if I recall correctly, the CRAY-1M had a 12.0 ns clock cycle, as compared to 12.5 ns for the CRAY-1 and CRAY-1/S."
XMP/EA: systems had 500 series serial numbers. Production ran from sn501 (19 Jul 87) through SN515 (15 Jan 89).
Cray-2: Later, a small number of variants occurred: 2 and 8 processors, 128 MW and 512 MW, Dynamic RAM (DRAM) and Static RAM (SRAM) don't know what SNs Only Serial numbers Q1,Q2 and 2001..2029 built.
SN1001 Had slower clock speed (6.3 ns) than later YMP 8s.
SN1040: Originally a Model D IO system it was converted to Model E IOS for use as a T3d host then later went to Moscow.
Cray-2 SN2000 (only a single CPU) and SN2101 (only 8 CPU) now reside in the computer museum at Moffett field CA. There were 4 single cpu Cray-2 systems built, Q1 -> Q4. Only one was shipped to a customer, one was in Eagan and 2 were used as test systems in Chippewa.
The 1700 series was known as a Y-MP8I because it could hold 8 CPU's with 1 SSD Section and 4 IOSE clusters in a single integrated chassis. One 1700 chassis was rewired to hold three 1600 type machines. That wiremat wasn't pretty. Served in CCN as software development machines ICE, FROST and SUBZERO.
The 1800 series known as the Y-MP8E with similar module layout to a 1000 series but could hook up to a Model E IOS. It would typically hook up to a 700 series Model E IOS which had a chassis very similar to an 1800 that holds 4 SSD sections and 8 IOSE clusters.
IOSE/SSDE boxes usually came in three serial number ranges 7xx, 8xx and 9xx. The 8xx is a short chassis like the 1600 that held 1 SSDE section and 2 or 3 I/O clusters. The 900 chassis looked like a 700 chassis but was only wired for SSDE.
A couple of these machine types (1600, 1900 and 6100) could support a JSSD (SSDE32i/SSDE128i). That was a 32 or 128 Mword SSD that fit in a single chassis slot.
The T3D 6100 series integrated 128 EV4's 2 Y-MP CPU's and 4 IOSE clusters into 1 chassis, and a 6200 which I believe is like a 6100 without the Y-MP/IOSE integration.
For the T3E systems there could (and frequently are) multiple clock rates and memory sizes in a single machine. The serial number only indicates the original speed of the system, upgrades are frequent.
SV-1 may comprise of a cluster of systems resulting in the use of more than one serial numbers.
SV-1 SN3001 to SN3007 and SN3213 to 3220 ... note that SN3217-3220 comprise SN3501 (super-cluster) at NIH.
In 1978 5 Cray-1 systems were installed. In 1996 350 Cray J90 systems where shipped the large part of the total of 415 J90 systems. Some J90 systems are being converted to SV1 chasis just to keep the records complicated.
If you know sub ranges of serial numbers or special variants from the above pattern please email the document author. Details of C3, C4 and CRS6400 numbers would also be appreciated.
The small serial number ranges indicate that the phrase "Hand built in Chippewa Falls" was never far from the truth. With SGI winding down development of the big Cray machines will we ever see Cray SN10,000?
The early adopters of a technology are the crucial customers that can make or break a developing technology company so it is interesting to look where the first few Cray-1 machines were installed. In 1978, 5 Cray-1 systems were installed.
The first Cray one SN1 went to LASL in 04/76 for a six month evaluation after which a short-term contract was signed. In 09/77 SN1 was replaced with SN4, a 1000k word machine with SECDED memory protection hardware. SN1 Ran an OS called DEMOS written in MODEL.
S/N 2 was gutted and never shipped.
Looking at the Cray 1 installed base in the 1976 to 1979 time frame.
Date, Place, application 04/76, LASL Los Alamos NM, Nuclear research later replaced by SN3 07/77, NCAR CO, Atmospheric research 10/77, ECMWF UK, Weather forecasting initially SN1 later replaced in 10/78 01/78, US DOD, Defence research 07/78, US DOD, Defence research 04/78, NNFECC National magnetic fusion energy centre Livermore CA, magnetic fusion research 09/78, United computing systems Kansas City MO, Commercial computing services 10/78, MOD UK, Defence research Used SN1 replaced 04/79 01/79, Lawrence Livermore Lab Ca, Nuclear research 04/79, Cray Research Inc., Development and benchmarking
The machines above were 500k or 1000k Words. These machines were so far ahead of their time that many of them worked at a number of sites, sometimes being leased for short periods until the customer-ordered machine was ready.
Most non-government Cray-1 systems were front-ended by CDC CYBER 170 systems, IBM MVS or VM machines or DEC VAX systems.
Apart from the first Cray-1, which travelled the world, the first machine of most product types typically served in the Cray computer centre (CCN) first at Mendota Heights and later at 655 Lone Oak Road, Eagan.
The first (prototype) Y-MP/8D, sn1001, served in the Cray computer centre as the compute platform "Mist" ( later changed name to "Gust" as "Mist" is a rude word in German ).
The first (prototype) X-MP, sn101, remained on the floor of the 1440 building until 1989 (17 Aug 82 - 25 May 89). ... It was subsequently scrapped.
The first Y-MP2E, sn1601, travelled to the UK and served in the Cray UK data centre as a software development machine.
Pittsburg super computer centre PSC had the first customer T3D and T3E machines.
Cray 2 customers included NMFECC, NASA Ames, University of Minnesota, US DOD, Harwell Laboratory UK, Aramco, University of Stuttgart in Germany and Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland..
Quoted from From HPC wire Subject: 9037 CASH-STARVED CRAY COMPUTER CLOSES, SEEKS CHAPTER 11 Mar. 27 CCC did make one tentative sale, to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) for support of the Department of Energy's nationwide research program. In December 1991 when CCC was unable to meet delivery/performance goals, the order was cancelled.
A small (4-CPU) CRAY-3 was later placed at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) where, after some time and effort, it became ready for production work. This was not followed, however, by an actual sale.
According to the SuperSites list in Aug 1999 The NSA runs a lot of Cray machines.
National Security Agency, Fort Meade, Maryland,US 1) Cray T3E-1200 LC1084 1300.8 2) Cray T3E-900 LC1328 1195.2 3) Cray SV1-18/576 576 4) SGI Origin2000/250-864 432 5) Cray T3E-1200 LC284 340.8 6) 3 * Cray T932/321024 174 7) Cray T3E-750 LC220 165 8) Cray T94/SSS-256K 100 ... snip 20) 4 * Cray C916/161024 64
I can't possibly comment but the only other place where so many Cray machines have been co-located is in the 655-D machine room of CCN located in the Cray Eagan building (now Wham!net). The population of that centre changed over time but will have had just about every sort of Cray Research machine at one time or another. As the CCN data centre was used to house and manage customer machines there was often more than one of each current production system.
The SSS designation on a T90 indicates a special configuration that was developed for particular customer. Its actual "speciality" may be seen in a section of an ARPA document on the net. The document mentions a processor in memory development for the Cray-3 for use in " This machine would be suited for parallel applications that require a small amount of memory per process. Examples of such applications are laminar flow over a wing, weather modeling, image processing, and other large cale simulations or bit-processing applications." It is thought (by me anyway) that this development was updated into T90 technology.
To the eastern block.
All with the agreement of the export control authorities.
The first mainframe class Cray machine was installed in Moscow the same week that the Moscow branch of "Planet Hollywood" opened.
International subsidiaries as of December 31, 1995. It could be reasonably assumed that the offices were for the supply and support of Cray Research computers in the host country. Not in the list is the UAE and the large Aramco site that had a Cray-2 followed by a C98-DRAM machine.
International offices Cray Research A.B. Sweden Cray Research Scandinavia A/S Norway Cray Research (Australia) Pty. Ltd. Australia Cray Research B.V. The Netherlands Cray Research (Canada) Inc. Canada Cray Research Europe Ltd. United Kingdom Cray Research France S.A. France Cray Research GmbH Germany Cray Research Japan, Ltd. Japan Cray Research (Korea) Ltd. Korea Cray Research (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd. Malaysia Cray Research de Mexico, S.A. de C.V. Mexico Cray Research OY Finland Cray Research, S.A.E. Spain Cray Research S.R.L. Italy Cray Research (Suisse) S.A. Switzerland Cray Research (UK) Ltd. United Kingdom
The development of Cray cooling technology allowed each technology generation to increase the circuit board density. "Someone (perhaps Gary Smaby? I truly don't remember) once said that Cray Research was primarily a refrigerator company."
Cray-1: Single sided boards clamped to copper plates placed in aluminium racks that had cooling fluid in tubes.
XMP: Double side sandwich boards clamped to twin copper plates placed in aluminium racks which had cooling fluid in tubes.
Cray-2,3,4: Immersion cooling. The CPU and memory boards sat in a bath of electrically inert cooling fluid.
YMP, C90, T3d LC, T3e MC: Double-sided circuit boards clamped to hollow aluminium boards in which the cooling fluid circulated.
El,J90,T3eAC,SV-1: Blown air cooling.
T90: Immersion cooling. The CPU and memory boards sat in a bath of electrically inert cooling fluid.
So the main forms of cooling were conduction to external cooling, conduction to internal coolant, blown air cooling and total immersion cooling. There was some research done into sprayed coolant methods for J90 modules, reported in an internal technical symposium paper, but this did not make it into a publicly available product.
All Cray machines (except the CS6400 range) had 64 bit words. Each word could hold 1 integer, 1 floating point numeric value or 8 characters. All arithmetic and logical operations were done in 64 bit maths. Memory sizes were generally designated in Mega Words. 32 MWd can be thought of as 256 Megabytes. However really the memory was 72 or 80 bits wide at the hardware level See SECDED.
Bigs gobs of memory that are attached via very high speed channels to vector CPUs. These extra memories, often 4 to 16 times the size of central memory could be utilised as disk IO cache, swap space, extra memory segments for programs or even RAM based file systems. These memories were accessed on a YMP at up to 1000 Mbytes/sec and are often used to transparently hide the IO required for an out-of-memory solution. Sites that used SSD as root/usr file system disk cache often saw little of no physical disk activity even when the system was stressed. A trickle sync mechanism was employed to prevent these vast disk caches from becoming stale.
Some later SSDs were built from J90 technology memory boards and some from T3E boards.
Single bit Error Correction, Double bit Error Detection. This was a hardware scheme used in all Cray machine (except the very first C1 and CRS systems) to allow single bit memory errors to be effectively ignored and for detecting other memory errors to prevent memory data corruption. Each 64 bit word had 8 other bits that were used in this advanced parity checking/correction method. If a double bit error was detected a syndrome byte indicated where the error had occurred. SECDED on the C90 has 64+16 bits and allowed correction at the 4-bit level.
Binary compatibility, the ability to run programs compiled on one machine on another, extended back one generation only. You could run XMP binaries on a YMP but not on a C90. The J90 counted like a YMP.
There were some cross compilation libraries available so that you could make binaries for different architectures i.e. it was possible to build YMP native codes on an XMP. Cray always recommended recompilation on the newer system in the case of an upgrade in order to take advantage of the new hardware features.
Execution compatibility across the range looks like :
C1 --> XMP --> XMPema --> YMP --> C90 --> T90 | | ^ V V | XMS --> ELs --> J90 --> J90se --> SV1 * * T3d ==> T3e APP --> CS64 --> CS64000 C2 . C3 . C4
For binary compatibility you can go across one arrow or up/down one arrow only.
Note ==> the T3e used the same programming models as the T3d and so was source code compatible with only minor exceptions.
Note ** An MPP emulator was available for ELs to develop MPP codes while waiting for the T3 product line to arrive. The emulator managed about 4 MPP nodes but used the native CRI arithmetic.
Note The C90 could run J90 binaries if compiled without the scalar cache optimisation. The T90 comes with either Cray Floating Point CPUs or IEEE CPUs (or both).T90 IEEE arithmetic CPUs will not support C90 native codes.
The C4 had IEEE FP and went back to lots of registers instead of local memory. There was no binary compatibility between the C2, C3 and C4.
Note ** An XMP CAL interpreter exists for Windows Xp ( MS-DOS ) called xmpsim which is described in the book entitled "The Cray X-MP/Model 24 : A Case Study in Pipelined Architecture and Vector Processing". Book details on Amazon According to the website " XMPSIM is a CRAY X-MP simulator written by Steven Robbins of the University of Texas at San Antonio. XMPSIM runs only under DOS on 80x86 machines. It has some nice features, such as the ability to produce a Gantt chart showing pipeline timing. Besides, it's cool to be able to simulate a $12 million machine using free software on a cheap PC"
Robert C reports .. Los Alamos coerced Cray into developing hardware memory watchpoints. This allowed a debugger to halt processing when a region of memory changed value (caused an interrupt). Unfortunately, CRI produced the hardware watchpoint design in the C-90, but LANL never purchased one.
System owners asked for and got machine instructions to do "population counts", leading zero and later a bit matrix multiply functional unit. BMM was provided as an option on C90 and standard on all T90 CPUs.
Hardware based gather/scatter instructions were included in the EL and later systems. This instruction allowed the compilers to manage array indexed data more efficiently.
See also What is a T94/SSS ?
There has always been lots of Unix src code sloshing round on the net since well before Linux and the admirable open src code movement was invented. However there were a couple of things about Cray machines that made porting codes to Cray machines tricky. We won't get into what you had to do to your algorithm to get the best out of a Cray machine but just examine a few things that made the conversion of codes to Cray machines interesting.
Firstly there was the word size, one rather large size fitted all, integers and floats were represented in 64 bits, whereas most other machines used 16 or 32 bit for ints and floats. This would not cause a problem in well written codes unless assumption were made about the range of an integer or the relative sizes of integers to character data types.
Cray PVP machines are word addressable, the T3D and T3E are byte addressable machines. Although the compilers used transparent word division to mimic byte addressable constructs on PVP machines, advanced character handling was never a natural process on a PVP Cray machine.
When the original arithmetic units were designed for Cray PVP systems, the IEEE floating point standard for arithmetic overflow and underflow did not exist. The IEEE standard compromises performance in favour of ease of use and so may not have made it in anyway. The Cray floating point format provided a different range of numbers and level of accuracy that tripped up some programs. The T3D and T3E and some T90 cpus use IEEE floating point standard.
There are also other subtle considerations that have caused headaches for many programmers porting codes to Cray machines. Known collectively as the "Cray effect", they are the combination of algorithm scaling problems, cyclic accumulation of errors and parallelism interdependencies that seem to show up most times you take an apparently well behaved small program and run it longer harder and further than possible on a conventional system.
A source adds : Possibly the most subtle problem in porting programs to UNICOS was that some very "bright" person put a #define for "WORD" in a header file required by the kernel. The first thing to do in porting a program to UNICOS was to find if it used WORD as a #define or as a typedef and work around that. Cray machines could not support "alloca", so minor magic had to be applied to programs using "alloca." In the very early days, many C programs suffered from the "nUxi" problem, but that was hardly unique to Cray machines.
At various times, the following languages were available on Cray machines, FORTRAN 66,77,90,HPF, Cray C, Standard C, C++, Pascal, Ada, Perl, but never GNU C or Basic. There was an implementation of APL for the CRAY-1, and an implementation of SNOBOL 4. Neither was ever "officially supported." LANL is reported to have ported Common LISP as documented in Dick Gabriel's MIT Press PhD thesis.
This is a low level logic feature that is used to initialise and test the logic state of a board in a machine. Originally introduced on the EL it was later adopted and used on the J90 and T90 machines.
Scan files are unique to each CPU/memory board type. On the early EL systems boundary scan tapes with pre-built scan initialisation files for various part numbered CPUs were available but had to be updated whenever a later revision of board was used.
As the number of CPU module types mushroomed, Cray engineering realised the service problems associated with scan tapes. Releasing the scb command and the associated ASIC data files structures allowed service personnel to rebuild scan files of a machine in the field.
If you know that your hardware is sound you can use scb command to regenerate boundary scan files, as long as you have the /install/asic files and scb command.
The bscan command is used to read and write the scan state off/onto a board to progress hardware problems.
This section could also have the title "The return of the Killer (network of) micros." The battles between the proponents of the "network of workstations" and the "it's only a supercomputer if it costs more than 1M$ per CPU" crowd rattle endlessly round the halls of comp.sys.super but we are not going discuss the merits or otherwise of MPPs V. Vector supers. This section is purely to describe some of the differences between modern implementations of MPP technology. The term cluster can be considered to refer to any collection of generic parts pushed together to make a compute engine. e.g. Beowulf, NOW, SP2. An understanding of the applications that you will be using in an MPP system is vital when deciding what performance attributes are important to you.
There are four main areas of differences between a cluster and a T3e,
Some of these differences may erode, as cluster technology develops, but for now these differences stand to justify the extra 0s on the price.
Interconnect bandwidth and low latency: To make effective use of an MPP computer or cluster the problem/program has to split the work between multiple CPUs. Inevitably the whole task will require some communication between the nodes working on the different parts of the answer. Sometimes this co-ordination is only a very small part of the process, with just a distribution of sections of the problem, at the start, and the collection of the answers at the end, but with other types of problem close synchronisation and large amounts of inter processor data passing is required.
This is where understanding the speed and latency between the processing nodes becomes important. Inter processor synchronisation speed depends on network latency. Inter processor data passing speed depends on network bandwidth. Total communication bandwidth depends on the interconnection topology and sophistication of the routing algorithm.
The amount of communication required by a cartoon film render farm, for instance, would be at the low end of the communication requirements scale whereas a large finite element or fluid dynamic problem would be at the top end requiring low latency interconnects and high bandwidth. Combining these factors is the ratio of communication time to processing time. Delays in synchronisation and bandwidth become less significant if the calculation time between communication is long.
See The Gannett's law document for a description of a possible method of assessing problems and cluster computer solutions.
Single system image: The T3e has a single system image, this is not to be confused by the fact that the operating system is distributed across an number of CPUS. One of the main benefits is that there is just one OS to upgrade, monitor, boot and tune. Another even more important benefits is the availability of global memory data segments, closer synchronisation between the processing elements and shared filesystem access. The downside of a single system image is a high degree of inter node dependence that can make hardware problems tricky to find and fix. The close PE co-ordination makes command and task load balancing fast and efficient.
Programming models: The hardware support of a barrier tree mechanism allows fast multi-node synchronisation. The eureka hardware support allows problems with wide solution branching to be co-ordinated on "first to find the results" basis. Hardware support for atomic swap (and block memory move) allows for fast and accurate semaphore operation between shared memory locations. Clusters support the message passing programming models but also seen in the T3e are the shared memory programming models popular from symmetric multiprocessor systems.
Processor interconnect: The high level of processor and network integration allows the T3e to perform multi-node process moves, checkpointing and program debugging. Problems that require 1000s of process synchronisation per short problem step can only be realistically considered on the T3e.
IO ability: Clusters can work well in the cases where the IO is limited or centralised but many super computer applications are defined by large amounts of computation and huge amounts of data. The T3es provision of large shared file systems that makes sharing of huge datasets between computational processors easy. Support for huge raid disk arrays equally available across all CPUs in the system make shared file access routine. NFS cross mounting between 100s of processing nodes just doesn't provide the strength for many big problems. The emergence of multinode access filesystems on the SP2 have served to make IO a closer race.
So to sum up a T3e is best suited to problems whose parts require very high levels of synchronisation, co-ordination and communication. If the requirement is for chunks of computer power loosely coordinated over long time steps and budget is a big consideration generic cluster technology should be considered.
Copying memory contents to disk, copying disk contents to tape or selling computers at less than cost to stuff the opposition. CRI filed a government investigated dumping complaint against NEC over the supply of a system to NCAR. In a later quirk of economic fourtunes Cray Inc now sells the NEC machines into the Amerian market.
This is the short version, the full version fills a very long chapter and a whole day on the "Unicos kernel internals" course. The exact details varied a bit from generation to generation but the principals remained the same. Starting from a cold machine, the first thing to do would be to call the Cray engineer to start the power conditioning MG set. Next check the cooling circuits and WACS panel on the side of the main cabinet, to see that the power supply rails and temperature levels are normal. Working from the MWS the engineer would then master clear the machine to initialise the processor and IO channel logic. After this the first code would be copied main memory and the DEAD START command issued. The first code would usually be diagnostics to set and check the internal logic of the CPUs and memory. This diagnostic stage was largely replaced by the boundary scan logic in later systems.
Finally the system would be handed over to the operators for the booting of Unicos. The Unicos boot process went like this. Firstly all the CPUs are halted and, starting from word 0, the kernel is copied into main memory from the OWS or support disk, along with a parameter file describing the hardware environment, kernel parameters, disk and IOS layout. At this point CPU 0 would deadstart and run while the rest of the CPUS idled. The kernel parsed the parameter file and used it to locate the IOSs and root partition, both of which it would need for single user mode. Once in single user mode the rest of boot sequence ( triggered by init 2 ) was much like most Unixs, spawn the service demons, initialise the networks, check and mount the rest of the file systems, spawn the console gettys.
There were many an interesting reasons why systems would not boot but most of them came down to hardware problems, incorrect parameter files and Unicos bugs on new hardware. Finding what was causing a system boot failure was of course a source of endless amusement.
Check the "big red button" is up. Switch system power on at the power breaker on rear machine, wait until the system ready indicator lights up on front panel of the machine. Press the system reset buttons under the flap on the front face of the machine. Let the console messages and diagnostics scroll up.
It should come to the BOOT> prompt. Type load this will scan the hardware looking for disks and controllers according to the config.sys file on the IOS disk. It will also run diagnostics if this is a cold start.
At this point you should have a IOS> prompt. You can now cat /bin/boot Look for the line that has something like
lu /sys/sys.ymp /sys/config.uni
/sys/sys.ymp is the kernel the other is the text parameter file which describes the disks/filesystems that Unicos will use. Then type "boot" to start Unicos into single user mode. The system should now arrive at the # Unicos prompt. Check your file systems with /etc/gencat. When this is complete go to multi user mode with init 2
Typing ^a on the console switched you between talking to the IOS and talking to the Unicos console unless either the scroll lock (right next to the delete key) had been pressed or the console line had been switched into remote support mode in which case the machine just looks hung.
A computer based learning training course for system operators was constructed that simulated the boot sequence and other basic EL maintenance procedures. See the annotated boot sequence in a nearby document.
What was the difference between the Alpha chips used in the T3[de] and other Alpha chips ? Basically not much except in the liquid cooled T3[de] versions the chip was packaged upside down. Normally the heat from the Alpha chip is dissipated through an air heat sink on the top of the chip but with the T3e providing cooling from inside the board the packaging was flipped to have the heat go down instead of up. DEC also provided a pin to allow CRI to run data fetches big-endian rather than little-endian.
Heat| ++++++ chips V ====== PCB board ~~~~~~~~~ Cooling fluid in hollow copper module ^ ====== PCB board Heat| ++++++ Chips
There was some consternation in 1997 when Intel bought the Alpha chip fabrication plant, the prospect of putting "Intel Inside" on the case of the Cray T3e filled purists with horror.
This was an employee fun day that happened once a year at the Eagan buildings. The day was a holiday for all staff with organised sport and social events. The origins of the "Ducky day" name came from a prank; a plastic duck was found in the rather grand water pond with sculpture outside the 1440 building. The facilities manager issued a rather stern warning so the next day the pond was filled to the brim with yellow plastic ducks.
One of the many traditions of Ducky day was a cartoon competiton, the winner of which had their cartoon rendered on the annual Ducky Day teeshirt. Photos thanks to Ebay Store: My Uncles Treasures
"Going strong for a Duckade"
"It keeps going and going .. and going"
"HATCHING THE T3Duck"
"Forrest Duck : Supercomputing is what supercomputing does"
"Its a whole new bird"
Got any more photos out there ? Send to the usual FAQ address.
A Revisionist view of Ducky day From Bill P. Ducky Day began at the Mendota Heights facility (1440 Bldg.) and was moved to the Eagan facility with the construction of the new campus. The combination fountain/sculpture was christened "Octal". It was made of wooden lattice work, concrete and plumbing (probably procured from a local Menards Building Center). On the company move to the "new" Cray Research Park from the 1440 Northland Drive facility, the first ducky day at the new location was celebrated by putting the torch to the wooden portion of the reassembled sculpture on the island in the middle of Cray Lake. This "Viking like" ceremony was presided over by Bob Ewald, the VP of Software Development at that time.
Up to about 1994 the computers in the Cray Research, Eagan and Chippewa Falls, machines rooms in were known by their serial numbers. For manufacturing this was fine but for the Eagan centre it was a pain as computers were replaced and upgraded on a reasonably regular basis. CCN in Eagan was more interested in running compute environments so it was decided that each type compute platform benchmarking, filestore, batch engine etc. would have an environment name instead. This meant that "Rain" as a compute platform started out as a YMP8e but later transparently changed into a C90 with less disruption to the end users. The exception to this was USS the Data Migration file server that was always called USS. The biggest machines in Eagan were interconnected by very high speed networking, HYPER channel in the early days, and later (@1994) 200MB/s HIPPI connections.
In the early days of the company yes, there was even rumour of a cowhide covered XMP delivered to a Houston oil company. As time went on colouring your computer was dropped as a customer option. Well almost - when there is that much money changing hands, if enough fuss is made, the exterior panels would revisit the paint shop. This did not apply to Els which were all black and red. Well almost - one customer which had just upgraded a pair of YMPs (one green, one blue) for a C90 and an EL did manage to get the EL painted a rather fetching sky blue colour.
As for XMP/EA, sn501 and internal contact reports "We lobbied to have it done up in denim (like the denim Jeans) & have a little red Levis tag attached. ... Management was not amused & it never happened."
One second user customer did have a bit of a surprise when their second user C90 arrived in a lurid deep rose/pink colour. The top of the C90, being a convex shape happened to sit just a couple of feet under a set of strip lights and resulted in lovely pink glow over a whole section of the machine room. Rumour has it that the colour matched the previous owners, girlfriends' nail varnish.
The Bell Labs Cray (XMP) was a wallpapered IC design.
The smallest, commercially available machine, was the EL92 a repackaged version of the air cooled EL range which measured approx. 1.2m high by 0.6m wide by 0.6m deep and could run from a normal power outlet. Whilst not a big commercial success as it was a bit late to market, it was widely used for trade shows, software development and as loan equipment. Available in 2 and 4 CPU versions with 512Mb memory it was truly a deskside Cray. Good write up and pictorial in "Advanced systems" magazine July 1994.
The 16 CPU version of the C90 was a truly big machine standing at 2.5m tall and CPU cab just fitting in a 4m diameter circle. Together with the power and cooling equipment the whole system weighed in at approx. 12 (?) tonnes. There was one (possibly more) systems delivered that consisted of four interconnected 16 CPU C90s.
In 1998 the biggest machine was a 1480 CPU T3e assembled by Cray and released to a small community of scientists in December of that year. This machine was subsequently delivered to an undisclosed customer. The design at that time would have scaled up to 2176 Cpus before hitting node addressing limits.
The "Guinness World records 2000" has the Cray C90/16 as the fastest general purpose vector-parallel computer but we all know this should be updated to the T90/32.
By bigger in supercomputing terms we mean more CPU horsepower in one system. Looking at the T3e range of machines, we see that that the T3e is the most scaleable architecture of any of the Cray machines. The systems can be grown buy adding boards of 4 or 8 processors during a maintenance slot. However adding boards does require some rewiring of the interconnect torus and takes a few hours.
There would be various reasons why a limit is set on the size of a T3E. I am not sure which of the following played a part in the upper size limit of a T3e but here are the ideas.
Physical size limits: 2176 CPUs, the largest known configuration, would fill 8 system cabinets and beyond that the distance across the frame could have adverse timing influences on the clock circuits. The clock was carried from cab to cab using Fibre optic circuits. The physically bigger a system gets the longer it takes to co-ordinate the parts. Which is why computers get denser by preference rather than larger. Seymour Cray always concentrated on making smaller denser machines rather than larger ones with more in because of this factor.
Power and cooling: Not really a limit, bigger, hotter machines had been built by Cray in the past. However beyond certain wattage very special and usually expensive power and cooling arrangements have to be made and this will contribute to large infrastructure and running costs.
Reliability: Because of the tightly bound interconnect of the machine, very much tighter than nodes on a network, the failure of any CPU or board power supply could kill the machine. If you had a CPU/power supply combination that fails once randomly distributed in 50 years (50*52=2600weeks) / 2176 cpus = 1.19 So you can expect to see a failure just over once a week. Building a board that fails less than once in 50 years is hard but a system failure once a week is unacceptable. Driving up that reliability curve for the machines was something that the engineers battled with during the development of the system. Having "Spare" CPUs ready to map in limited the down time associated with a CPU/cpu failure but it still took time to locate the point of failure and map around it. A system running weather predictions to a tight time scale could not afford to have random 2..4 hour failures once a week. After an initial burn-in period boards do not fail randomly but you can see that the more cpus/parts there are the less reliable a machine will tend to be.
Operating System scaleability: The T3e is a single system image machine, even though parts of it are distributed between processors, there is only one copy of the operating system, process table memory map etc. A "normal" SMP type architecture will struggle once the number of active processes exceeds 2000 and has the advantage of uniform access to all its memory map. The T3E has to cope with just as many processes with the extra strain of them all running in parallel. The scheduling was made easier by dividing the processors into application pools and by treating a group of processors working on a single task as a single job but controlling the machine gets harder the more parallel elements there are to co-ordinate.
The bigger the machine the more likely it is that you will hit a situation where much of the system is pounding on a single part of the machine that runs a critical resource. The cost of having that a big machine all waiting on the completion of a single task limits the scaleability of the system. E.g. Root filesystem inode contention, process table interactions etc. These and other throttle points limit the scaleability of the Operating system.
Market demand: The amount of CPU horsepower you can get out of one CPU was such that most problems fitted into 50..100 CPUs before the program bogs down waiting on I/O or system resources. If you have 40 lots of 50 CPU programs to run you would have a more reliable solution having 2 * 1000 CPU boxes. The demand to run 2000 CPU problems, by the people that can pay for big machines was just is not large enough to cover the extra cost of building them.
Cray and Apple, seemly at opposite ends of the computer spectrum, do have some subtle links. It was known that Seymour Cray used an Apple desktop some of the time when designing the Cray-2. It is also known that Apple had a sequence of Cray machines starting in 1986 with an XMP/28 followed by another XMP in Feb 1991. A YMP-2E arrived later in 1991 and finally an EL from Dec 1993 to Jun 98. It is said that Apple's first XMP was bought by Steve Jobs after he just walked into the Cray facility in Mendota Hights.
Mike a more reliable souce relates ....
The first machine installed at Apple was an
X-MP 48 completed in August 1986. It had painted purple metallic columns
and black power supplies. John Scully was the CEO, and he called the
Western Region office in Pleasanton, Ca to get the salesman for his area
of Cupertino, and his call was directed to Mike Wilhelm, the Western
Region Manager, who after a lengthy conversation dispatched the salesman
Bence Gerber, who sold the machine. I was standing at the receptionist
desk who took John Scully's call when it came in, and got excited that
Apple called us, and then went to Mike Wilhelm's secretary to hear what
happened. I was also present for the installation, and spent many days
covering the site.
According to this quote from Macobserver the timeline would indicate that Scully was in charge at that time.
1985: Apple's board of directors authorizes John Sculley to remove Steve Jobs as executive VP and general manager of the faltering Macintosh division. Sculley, who genuinely liked Jobs, didn't act right away, hoping to make a smooth transition. Only after discovering Jobs' plan for a coup the following month did Sculley finally strip the founder of all operational responsibilities.
The machines originally purchased to help out on a computer on a chip project, the machines eventually earned their keep running MOLDFLOW an injection plastic modelling program ( producing some results in the form of Quicktime movies) and later as a file server. Other applications were CFD codes for disk drive design improvement and one source reports ".. they sometimes ran the first XMP as a single user MacOS emulator ... They had a frame buffer and a mouse hooked up to the IOP."
T3d cube of cubes logo animated by changing the size of the surrounding balls.
What is less well known however is that the small active display panel on the T3d was an Apple powerbook. The powerbook ran a Macromedia presentation showing the T3d cube of cubes logo with an orbiting growing/shrinking sphere. The display at one site was changed to alternate with a presentation plaque display. It was rumoured that one site engineer ordered a collection of spare bits that, over time, comprised a complete new powerbook.
According to a CCC inside source Seymour Cray and the Cray Computer Corporation Macintosh computers where the desktop of choice and were used almost exclusivly whilst the company worked on the Cray-3 and Cray-4 projects. Much of such work was moving text and graphic files arround a shared network.
The Sept 1999 launch on the www.Apple.com web site of the G4 Macintosh computers displayed a YMP-8D computer on the processor page. Whilst there was no direct reference to that particular machine there was a requote of the Seymour quote about "using an Apple to simulate the Cray-3" in a sidebar. ( prob this should be Cray-2 ED). The G4 is being touted as a "Supercomputer for the desktop" and with the performance figures of a Gigaflop/s (1 CPU) it is certainly up to at least 1992 supercomputer cpu speed. The YMP pictured on the site would have had 0.333 Gflop/s per cpu but was sold as sustaining 1 Gflop/s, for the whole machine, on real life applications. It remains to be seen if the G4 can match the memory size, memory bandwidth and IO capacity of this 8 year old Cray. Supercomputers these days do a Teraflop/s. There is however no doubt that it will be cheaper to buy.
The popular Macintosh telnet program developed by NCSA has an icon which is an XMP surrounded by a network with Macs. NCSA had a Cray accessed by Macs and thus needed to develop such a program. NCSA = National Centre for Supercomputer Applications.
Another one of those strange coincidences was problems using perspex as a chassis material. Apple had problems with the Cube, the corners were subject to cracking in some instances. At Cray the original Cray 2 had the cylindrical coolant reservoirs and cascades. They found for some reason the perspex that they were made of after a while started to "craze" and appeared like there were many fine cracks in it. In the end they designed a new rectangular cascade that had a smaller footprint and was made of glass ( I think!!) and that solved the problem. More details related here.
This compiled from various SEC 10-K documents.
As of December 31, 1995, the Company had 4,225 full-time employees; 983 in development and engineering, 1,399 in manufacturing, 763 in marketing and sales, 915 in field service and 165 in general management and administrative positions.
As of December 31, 1994, the Company had 4,840 full-time employees;1,172 in development and engineering, 1,531 in manufacturing, 849 in marketing and sales, 1,075 in field service and 213 in general management and administrative positions.
As of December 31, 1993, the Company had 4,960 full-time employees: 1082 in development and engineering, 1798 in manufacturing, 728 in marketing and sales, 1157 in field service and 195 in general management and administrative positions.
|Year||Employees||Locations USA/International||New Systems||Installed systems|
|1977||199||6 / 1||3||4|
|1978||321||8 / 1||5||8|
|1979||524||10 / 3||6||13|
|1980||761||13 / 4||9||22|
|1981||1079||16 / 4||13||35|
|1982||1352||17 / 4||15||50|
|1983||1551||18 / 6||16||65|
|1984||2203||20 / 8||23||84|
|1985||3180||22 / 10||28||108|
|1986||3999||28 / 12||35||138|
|1987||4308||34 / 13||43||113|
|1988||5237||35 / 18||52||220|
|1989||4708||32 / 18||57||240|
|1990||4857||34 / 18||52||263|
|1991||5395||35 / 21||71||309|
|1993||4960||6 + 153600 ft^2 Leased||505|
|1994||4840||6 + 190600 ft^2 Leased||638|
|1995||4225||6 + 211100 ft^2 Leased|
CCC had 350 workers at the time of its closure in 1995.
CEOs of Cray Research
Who Dates Where are they now ? John Rollwagen 1976..1992 Now is a "Venture Partner" at Paul Venture Capital in St. Paul, Minnesota Marcello Gummucio 1992..1994 Now at BeOS ? John F. Carlson Jan 1993..1994 Robert Ewald Dec 1994..1996 Now at Estamp an internet venture selling snailmail postage over the web. J. Phillip Samper May 1995.. ? ? Irene Qualters ?
Mr. Ewald ... joined the Company (SGI) in 1996 as President of Cray Research and a Senior Vice President of the Company. Mr. Ewald was the President and Chief Operating Officer of Cray Research, Inc. from 1994 until 1996, when Cray was acquired by the Company. Prior to that, he was Chief Operating Officer of Cray's Supercomputer Operations and in 1993 served as Executive Vice President and General Manager, Supercomputer Operations. From 1991 through 1993, Mr. Ewald was Cray's Executive Vice President, Development. His daughter worked for part of the Craysoft organisation.
Les Davis can certainly be considered one of the spritual leaders of the traditional Crayons.
The utilization of most of the 16 cpu C90 systems I ever saw approached 98% at most sites, month after month, year after year so despite the high, typically USD 30,000,000 price customers got value for money.
Warning salesmen maths ahead, full of apples=oranges assumptions but go with me for while...
Lets work it out over 6 years the typical life of a C90. USD 30,000,000 purchase price + 3,000,000 * 6 Per year service cost = USD 54,000,000 total. That would be 9,000,000 per year over 365 days = USD 24,657 per day for the system. Per CPU that would be approx. USD 1,541 per day. In that day on that one CPU you could do 1 Gigaflop/s * 24 * 3600 * 98 % = 84,672,000,000,000 Flops in the day.
C90 Cost per 10^6 flops = 154,100 / 84,672,000 = 0.0018 cents per MFlops
Think that a workstation in 1994 would cost you approx. USD 8,000 + 800 PA and would be obsolete in 3 years. So that is USD 10,400 total or 4366.6 PA. Per day that's USD 12. Typically workstations are person driven, and people work 9 to 5 - 1 hours in a day, 5 days out of 7 that's a 40/168 = 23 % utilisation. Workstations in 1994 could manage about 5 Mflops/s on real codes. So the workload works out at 5,000,000 * 24 * 3600 * 23% = 99,360,000,000 Flops in a day.
PC Cost per 10^6 flops = 1200 / 99,360 = 0.012 cents per MFlop.
So it is cheaper to work things out on a C90 than a workstation just as long as you have enough work to keep it busy. We won't go into the fact that you can run much bigger problems on the C90 or that you can get the same work done faster as we seem to have won this point already.
No. For 20 years Cray dominated, after inventing, the super computing marketplace. Cray was *the* name in high performance scientific and engineering computing. Cray did seem to lose the technology focus in the later part of the '90s, the T90 was too expensive to build, the T3e cost too much to develop and the DEC deal scuppered the chances of world domination in departmental compute servers but there is no doubt that the sheer quantity of engineering and science completed on Cray hardware changed the face of the 20th century.
So did Cray Research fail? No. Whilst relatively few machines were ever made, even of the more popular models, they provided an unrivalled platform for tackling the toughest computational problems, which is of course, the mission of Cray Research.
In March 2000 the Cray Research name and business was sold by SGI to Tera Inc, the inovative supercomputer maker from Seattle. Tera Inc changed their name to Cray inc and continue to service and develop Cray computers.
Since the join up Cray inc have delivered the SV-1 and X1 traditional vector super computers, sealed a deal with one-time rival NEC to OEM the sx-6 and serviced the MTA line. There have also been developments in the Linux cluster areas leeding on to this recent announcement.
In October 2003, Cray Inc. announced plans to create a product line based on the "Red Storm" 40-TeraOp (40 trillion calculations per second) supercomputer it is developing for Sandia National Laboratories. Red Storm is a supercomputer system leveraging over 10,000 AMD Opteron(tm) processors connected by an innovative high-speed, high-bandwidth 3D mesh interconnect designed by Cray. See http://www.cray.com for more details.
These days have a look at www.cray.com and find out information about the current range of machines.
I quote directly here from the official company history.....
In 2004, Cray Inc. acquired HPC startup OctigaBay Systems Corporation, a Canadian company developing a high performance computing (HPC) system designed around a direct-connect processor approach to massively parallel processing that directly links together processors, alleviating memory contention and interconnect bottlenecks found in cluster and SMP systems. Renamed the Cray XD1 system, this high-performance computer has an innovative architecture that embeds both a high speed interconnect and application accelerators to remove major bottlenecks and improve performance on real-world applications.
|Cray-1 SN1||UK: London Science Museum, South Kensington, London||Science Museum||
|Various||USA: 21 E. Grand Avenue, PO Box 711 Chippewa Falls, WI 54729 Phone: (715) 720-9206||Chippewa Falls Museum of Industry and Technology|
|Cray-1A SN6 , Cray-2, Cray-YMP, Cray-EL, Cray-3 brick||USA: 1401 N. Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View CA 94043 Ph 650-810-1010||Computer History Museum|
|XMP-24 SN11||USA: The Museum is located on Route 32 just off the Baltimore - Washington Parkway (at Colony Road) Tel: 301-688-5849||National Cryptologic Museum
Some good pictures on Declan McCullagh' s website
|Cray-1 SN14||USA: Independence Ave at 4th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20560
|The Smithsonian National air and space museum.|
|Cray-2||France: 60 rue Réaumur
Underground/Subway : Arts et Métiers, Réaumur-Sébastopol
Buses : 20, 38, 39, 47
Tel : +33 (0)1 53 01 82 00
|Musée des Arts et Métiers|
|Cray-1 SN09||Sweden: Museivägen 7, Box 27842, S-115 93 Stockholm, Tel: +46 8 450 56 00 Fax: +46 8 450 56 01||Tekniska Museet - The National Museum of Science and Technology||
|Cray-1, It used to belong to the Deutsches Raumfahrtzentrum||
|Deutsches Museum von Meisterwerken der Naturwissenschaft und Technik|
Please email other sightings of older Crays to the normal FAQ address.
Thank you for taking time to read these important notes.
Cray, Cray Research, CRI, XMP, YMP, C90, T90, J90, T3d, T3e, Unicos, plus other words and logos used in this document are trademarks which belong to Cray Inc. and others. There is nothing generic about a Cray supercomputer.
Some of the ideas described in this document are subject to patent law or are registered inventions. Description here does not place these ideas and techniques in the public domain.
I wrote this document with input from a number of sources, but I get both the credit and the blame for its content. I am happy to read your polite correction notes and may even integrate them with the text so please indicate if you require an acknowledgement.
Personal use of this document is free but if you wish to redistribute this document, in whole or in part, for commercial gain, you must obtain permission from and acknowledge the author.
Copyright (c) 1999 by "Fred Gannett", all rights reserved. This FAQ may be posted to any appropriate USENET newsgroup, on-line service, web site, or BBS as long as it is posted in its entirety and includes this copyright statement. This FAQ may be distributed as class material on diskette or CD-ROM as long as there is no charge (except to cover materials). This FAQ may not be distributed for financial gain except to the author. This FAQ may not be included in commercial collections or compilations without express permission from the author.