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Cray supercomputer ready for use

By Michael Schlamp

After much anticipation, the MIT CRAY-2 Supercomputer Facility (MITSF) opened its doors on July 15. All members of the MIT community can now use the machine, which is located in Building W91.

Equipped with four central processors and 256 million 64-bit words (more than 2 gigabytes) of memory, the CRAY-2/4/256 system is valued at over $7.5 million. The machine is presently leased to MIT as part of a five-year research agreement with Cray Research.

According to Eddie Andrews, the MITSF administrative officer, those people who have already used the machine have expressed great enthusiasm, setting a positive trend for the supercomputer. So far, the most demand for the supercomputer has come from student user groups in collaboration with faculty members.

Those who wish to use the supercomputer must pay either an unburdened usage rate of $125 per hour or a fully-burdened rate of approximately $140 per hour; in addition, a one-page proposal describing planned usage is required of each user on a yearly basis. Supercomputing is both a speedy and economical alternative to local computing on workstations and minisupercomputers, Andrew said.

Tapes for supercomputer usage can be submitted and retrieved at the Information Systems Dispatch Counter. All business beyond the actual tape handling is conducted over the MIT Network.

The supercomputer facility will initially support one MIT application consultant and one CRAY application consultant. Besides being available to the community for technical questions and comments, the consultants will give basic courses in the use of the CRAY-2, as well as in vectorization, parallelization, and supercomputing. More details concerning these courses will be available in a listing due out this January during IAP.