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Athena grows to meet an increased demand

By Andrea Lamberti

Project Athena expanded several public clusters at the end of the summer and will continue to add private and departmental clusters throughout the fall, according to Athena Executive Director Ronald L. Orcutt.

Athena was at capacity by the end of last year, Orcutt said, making an expansion necessary for this year. Because all graduate students can have Athena accounts this year, Project Athena anticipated the largest number of new users this semester. Before this semester, about one third of graduate students had accounts.

As of last Friday, approximately 1300 new users had registered for accounts, compared with 200 to 300 new users at this time last year. Athena began registration activities earlier than usual this year, during Residence/Orientation week, in anticipation of the large numbers.

Athena officials expect that adding computers to existing public clusters and the development of departmental and private clusters will ease the load. More workstations will also be installed in MIT faculty offices.

"We're trying to cram more workstations into public spaces," Orcutt said. The largest public cluster expansion is taking place in the Student Center, Orcutt noted. Twenty-one Digital Equipment Corporation Vax Station 3100's have already been deployed there, and 21 IBM RT's will be completely installed by the week of Sept. 25.

A new Athena cluster in Building 6, will be available to students next week. There are 14 DEC VS 2's there now, and ten more will be installed by next week. Another new cluster will be located in Building 14N, with nine VS 2000's. It will be open within one or two weeks.

Project Athena has encouraged the formation of departmental clusters because of the difficulty in obtaining new space for public clusters. "Since we don't have any more space, we've gone to the departments" to find space for a "non-trivial" number of workstations, Orcutt said.

If a department has space for at least six workstations, Project Athena will install a departmental cluster. Each department will be able to decide who has access to its clusters, Orcutt said.

Early requests for departmental clusters came from the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and the Department of Chemical Engineering. Their clusters and faculty office workstations have already been deployed.

The dial-in service for remote users will also be expanded in about one month. Its present capacity is only about 22 lines, and the electrical current is not satisfactory, Orcutt said. After the initial improvements, there will be about 60 telephone lines,

and the service will be easily expandable.

"The main beneficiaries of the [dial-up] improvements will be graduate students and faculty," Orcutt said. Faculty members will have the option of dialing their own office workstation, rather than sharing the common pool dial-in service.