SpaceX Will Deliver The First Supercomputer To The ISS (hpe.com) 98

Slashdot reader #16,185, Esther Schindler writes: "By NASA's rules, not just any computer can go into space. Their components must be radiation hardened, especially the CPUs," reports HPE Insights. "Otherwise, they tend to fail due to the effects of ionizing radiation. The customized processors undergo years of design work and then more years of testing before they are certified for spaceflight." As a result, the ISS runs the station using two sets of three Command and Control Multiplexer DeMultiplexer computers whose processors are 20MHz Intel 80386SX CPUs, right out of 1988. "The traditional way to radiation-harden a spacecraft computer is to add redundancy to its circuits or by using insulating substrates instead of the usual semiconductor wafers on chips. That's expensive and time consuming. HPE scientists believe that simply slowing down a system in adverse conditions can avoid glitches and keep the computer running."

So, assuming the August 15 SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch goes well, there will be a supercomputer headed into space -- using off-the-shelf hardware. Let's see if the idea pans out. "We may discover a set of parameters with which a supercomputer can successfully run for at least a year without errors," says Dr. Mark R. Fernandez, the mission's co-principal investigator for software and SGI's HPC technology officer. "Alternately, one or more components of the system will fail, in which case we will then do the typical failure analysis on Earth. That will let us learn what to change to make the systems more reliable in the future."

The article points out that the New Horizons spacecraft that just flew past Pluto has a 12MHz Mongoose-V CPU, based on the MIPS R3000 CPU. "You may remember its much faster ancestor: the chip that took you on adventures in the original Sony PlayStation, circa 1994."
Silicon Graphics

SGI Desktop Clone Gets A New Version On Fedora (maxxinteractive.com) 103

Silicon Graphics workstations used the IRIX Interactive Desktop (formerly called Indigo Magic Desktop) for its IRIX operating system (based on UNIX System V with BSD extensions). "Anyone who remembers working on a SGI machine probably has fond memories of the Magic Desktop for IRIX," remembered one Slashdot reader in 2002. At the time a project called 5Dwm was working on a clone, and its work is still being continued by MaXX Interactive. Today Slashdot reader Daniel Mark shared the news that after "several years and many long nights," the company is announcing a new release for Fedora 25, adding that "more Linux Distributions support will be added over the coming days/weeks." They're calling it "something new and fresh in the Linux Desktop space." The MaXX Desktop is available in two versions, the free Community Edition (CE) which provides basic SGI Desktop experience and the commercially available Professional Edition (PE) that comes with support, CPU and GPU specific optimizations and a full SGI Desktop experience... So there is no surprise here, the MaXX Desktop is a highly tuned Workstation Environment for the Linux x86_64 and ia64 platforms. Multi-core processing, NVidia GPU specific optimizations are among the things that makes the MaXX Desktop so fast, light-weight and stable.

HPE Acquires SGI For $275 Million (venturebeat.com) 100

An anonymous reader writes: Hewlett Packard Enterprise has announced today that it has acquired SGI for $275 million in cash and debt. VentureBeat provides some backstory on the company that makes servers, storage, and software for high-end computing: "SGI (originally known as Silicon Graphics) was cofounded in 1981 by Jim Clark, who later cofounded Netscape with Marc Andreessen. It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009 after being de-listed from the New York Stock Exchange. In 2009 it was acquired by Rackable Systems, which later adopted the SGI branding. SGI's former campus in Mountain View, California, is now the site of the Googleplex. SGI, which is now based in Milpitas, California, brought in $533 million in revenue in its 2016 fiscal year and has 1,100 employees, according to the statement. HPE thinks buying SGI will be neutral in terms of its financial impact in the year after the deal is closed, which should happen in the first quarter of HPE's 2017 fiscal year, and later a catalyst for growth." HP split into two separate companies last year, betting that the smaller parts will be nimbler and more able to reverse four years of declining sales.

Interviews: Ask Alexander Stepanov and Daniel E. Rose a Question 80

An anonymous reader writes "Alexander Stepanov studied mathematics at Moscow State University and has been programming since 1972. His work on foundations of programming has been supported by GE, Brooklyn Polytechnic, AT&T, HP, SGI, and, since 2002, Adobe. In 1995 he received the Dr. Dobb's Journal Excellence in Programming Award for the design of the C++ Standard Template Library. Currently, he is the Senior Principal Engineer at A9.com. Daniel E. Rose is a programmer and research scientist who has held management positions at Apple, AltaVista, Xigo, Yahoo, and is the Chief Scientist for Search at A9.com. His research focuses on all aspects of search technology, ranging from low-level algorithms for index compression to human-computer interaction issues in web search. Rose led the team at Apple that created desktop search for the Macintosh. In addition to working together, the pair have recently written a book, From Mathematics to Generic Programming. Alexander and Daniel have agreed to answer any questions you may have about their book, their work, or programming in general. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post."

Intel and SGI Test Full-Immersion Cooling For Servers 102

itwbennett (1594911) writes "Intel and SGI have built a proof-of-concept supercomputer that's kept cool using a fluid developed by 3M called Novec that is already used in fire suppression systems. The technology, which could replace fans and eliminate the need to use tons of municipal water to cool data centers, has the potential to slash data-center energy bills by more than 90 percent, said Michael Patterson, senior power and thermal architect at Intel. But there are several challenges, including the need to design new motherboards and servers."

Scientists Using Supercomputers To Puzzle Out Dinosaur Movement 39

Nerval's Lobster writes "Scientists at the University of Manchester in England figured out how the largest animal ever to walk on Earth, the 80-ton Argentinosaurus, actually walked on earth. Researchers led by Bill Sellers, Rudolfo Coria and Lee Margetts at the N8 High Performance Computing facility in northern England used a 320 gigaflop/second SGI High Performance Computing Cluster supercomputer called Polaris to model the skeleton and movements of Argentinosaurus. The animal was able to reach a top speed of about 5 mph, with 'a slow, steady gait,' according to the team (PDF). Extrapolating from a few feet of bone, paleontologists were able to estimate the beast weighed between 80 and 100 tons and grew up to 115 feet in length. Polaris not only allowed the team to model the missing parts of the dinosaur and make them move, it did so quickly enough to beat the deadline for PLOS ONE Special Collection on Sauropods, a special edition of the site focusing on new research on sauropods that 'is likely to be the "de facto" international reference for Sauropods for decades to come,' according to a statement from the N8 HPC center. The really exciting thing, according to Coria, was how well Polaris was able to fill in the gaps left by the fossil records. 'It is frustrating there was so little of the original dinosaur fossilized, making any reconstruction difficult,' he said, despite previous research that established some rules of weight distribution, movement and the limits of dinosaurs' biological strength."

Valve's SteamBox Gets a Name and an Early Demo at CES 328

xynopsis writes "Looks like the final version of the Linux based Steam Gaming Console has been made public at CES. The result of combined efforts of small-form-factor maker Xi3 and Valve, the gaming box named 'Piston' is a potential game changer in transforming the Linux desktop and gaming market. The pretty device looks like a shrunk Tezro from Silicon Graphics when SGI used to be cool." Looks like Gabe Newell wasn't kidding.

Managing Servers In the Frigid Cold 122

1sockchuck writes "Some data centers are kept as chilly as meat lockers. But IT operations in colder regions face challenges in managing conditions — hence Facebook's to use environmentally controlled trucks to make deliveries to its new data center in Sweden, which is located on the edge of the Arctic Circle. The problem is the temperature change in transporting gear. 'A rapid rate of change (in temperature) can create condensation on the electronics, and that's no good,' said Facebook's Frank Frankovsky."

Hawking Is First User of "Big Brain" Supercomputer 93

miller60 writes "Calling your product the 'Big Brain Computer' is a heady claim. It helps if you have Dr. Stephen Hawking say that the product can help unlock the secrets of the universe. SGI says its UV2 can scale to 4,096 cores and 64 terabytes of memory, with a peak I/O rate of four terabytes per second and runs off-the-shelf Linux software. Hawking says the UV2 'will ensure that UK researchers remain at the forefront of fundamental and observational cosmology.'"

New Supercomputer Boosts Aussie SKA Telescope Bid 32

angry tapir writes "Australian academic supercomputing consortium iVEC has acquired another major supercomputer, Fornax, to be based at the University of Western Australia, to further the country's ability to conduct data-intensive research. The SGI GPU-based system, also known as iVEC@UWA, is made up of 96 nodes, each containing two 6-core Intel Xeon X5650 CPUs, an NVIDIA Tesla C2050 GPU, 48 GB RAM and 7TB of storage. All up, the system has 1152 cores, 96 GPUs and an additional dedicated 500TB fabric attached storage-based global filesystem. The system is a boost to the Australian-NZ bid to host the Square Kilometer Array radio telescope."

Adobe Goes To Flash 10.1, Forgoes Security Fix For 10 320

An anonymous reader writes "The recent critical zero-day security flaw in Flash 10 may have fast-tracked the release of Flash 10.1 today. Adobe 10.1 boasts the much anticipated H.264 hardware acceleration. Except for Linux and Mac OS (PDF): 'Flash Player 10.1, H.264 hardware acceleration is not supported under Linux and Mac OS. Linux currently lacks a developed standard API that supports H.264 hardware video decoding, and Mac OS X does not expose access to the required APIs.' Your humble anonymous reporter, who is using Fedora Linux with a ATI IGP 340M, is very pleased that the developers of the OSS drivers have provided hardware acceleration for my GPU ('glxinfo : direct rendering: Yes,' 'OpenGL renderer string: Mesa DRI R100 (RS200 4337) 20090101 NO-TCL DRI2'), but even if Adobe did provide hardware acceleration for H.264 on Linux, they wouldn't provide it for me because they disable it for GPUs with SGI in the Client vendor string. Adobe 10.1, with all its goodness, now gives me around 95% CPU usage as opposed to about 75% with the previous release. Good times. I anticipate my Windows friends will have a much better experience."
Silicon Graphics

SGI Rolls Out "Personal Supercomputers" 303

CWmike writes "They aren't selling personal supercomputers at Best Buy just yet. But that day probably isn't too far off, as the costs continue to fall and supercomputers become easier to use. Silicon Graphics International on Monday released its first so-called personal supercomputer. The new Octane III system is priced from $7,995 with one Xeon 5500 processor. The system can be expanded to an 80-core system with a capacity of up to 960GB of memory. This new supercomputer's peak performance of about 726 GFLOPS won't put it on the Top 500 supercomputer list, but that's not the point of the machine, SGI says. A key feature instead is the system's ease of use."
Classic Games (Games)

The Ethics of Selling GPLed Software For the iPhone 782

SeanCier writes "We're a small (two-person) iPhone app developer whose first game has recently been released in the App store. In the process, we've inadvertently stepped in it, bringing up a question of the GPL and free software ethics that I'm hoping the Slashdot community can help us clear up, one way or the other. XPilot, a unique and groundbreaking UNIX-based game from the early/mid nineties, was a classic in its day, but was forgotten and has been dead for years, both in terms of use and development. My college roommate and I were addicted to it at the time, even running game servers and publishing custom maps. As it's fully open source (GPLv2), and the iPhone has well over twice the graphics power of the SGI workstations we'd used in college, we decided it was a moral imperative to port it to our cellphones. In the process, we hoped, we could breathe life back into this forgotten classic (not to mention turning a years-old joke into reality). We did so, and the result was more playable than we'd hoped, despite the physical limitations of the phone. We priced it at $2.99 on the App store (we don't expect it to become the Next Big Thing, but hoped to recoup our costs — such as server charges and Apple's annual $99 developer fee), released the source on our web page, then enthusiastically tracked down every member of the original community we could find to let them know of the hoped-for renaissance. Which is where things got muddy. After it hit the App store, one of the original developers of XPilot told us he feels adamantly that we're betraying the spirit of the GPL by charging for it." Read on for the rest of Sean's question.

Aussie Scientists Build a Cluster To Map the Sky 58

Tri writes "Scientists at the Siding Spring Observatory have built a new system to map and record over 1 billion objects in the southern hemisphere sky. They collect 700 GB of data every night, which they then crunch down using some perl scripts and make available to other scientists through a web interface backed on Postgresql. 'Unsurprisingly, the Southern Sky Survey will result in a large volume of raw data — about 470 terabytes ... when complete. ... the bulk of the analysis of the SkyMapper data will be done on a brand new, next generation Sun supercomputer kitted out with 12,000 cores. Due to be fully online by December, the supercomputer will offer a tenfold increase in performance over the facility's current set up of two SGI machines, each with just under 3500 cores in total.'"

Web Servers Getting Naked, For Weight Savings 101

1sockchuck writes "Cloud computing is causing servers to get naked. HP today announced a 'skinless' server optimized for customers packing thousands of servers into cloud or HPC environments. This follow the lead of SGI/Rackable, which ditched the cover when it introduced bare bones servers for its CloudRack (previously discussed here). HP says the skinless design makes servers far lighter, which is apparently an issue when shipping them by the rackload."

PLplot Notes Its 10,000th Commit 66

iliketrash writes "From the PLplot development team is the announcement of their 10,000th commit: 'PLplot is a cross-platform software package for creating scientific plots that has been in continuous development since its inception 17 years ago. On May 23, 2009 the PLplot developers quietly celebrated our ten thousandth commit since our initial software repository was populated back in May 1992. This longevity puts PLplot in some select company amongst open-source software projects. We may even be unique within this group because all PLplot development has been done by volunteers in their spare time. The enthusiasm for PLplot development continues; we have averaged more than 100 commits per month over the last year which is double our 17-year average, and we are looking forward to the celebration of our next ten thousand commits!'"
Silicon Graphics

SGI's Open Source Performance Co-Pilot 24

codesmythe writes "The Fates, through SGI nee Rackable, have granted a new beginning to Silicon Valley's once darling Silicon Graphics. Despite old mistakes and economic misfortunes, Silicon Graphics' engineering contributions are legendary: their systems (oh, the systems!), and software such as the well known OpenGL and the little known Performance Co-Pilot. PCP is an enterprise-class open source system monitoring, measurement, and visualization infrastructure — overlooked in last fall's monitoring tool discussion. Since its proprietary beginning in 1993, PCP has been re-released as open source and ported to all major operating systems. Readers of Slashdot's recent Beginning Python Visualization book review will be pleased to hear there are Python interfaces to PCP data sources. Here is an example of using Python and Blender to visualize PCP data (registration may be required). The PCP dev community is well and active, and includes several of the original team members."

Hardware-Accelerated Graphics On SGI O2 Under NetBSD 75

Zadok_Allan writes "It's a bit late, but since many readers will remember the SGI O2 fondly, this might interest a few. The gist of the story is this: NetBSD now supports hardware accelerated graphics on the O2 both in X and in the kernel. We didn't get any help from SGI, and the documentation available doesn't go beyond a general description and a little theory of operation, which is why it took so long to figure it out. The X driver still has a few rough edges (all the acceleration frameworks pretty much expect a mappable linear framebuffer, if you don't have one — like on most SGI hardware — you'll have to jump through a lot of hoops and make sure there's no falling back to cfb and friends) but it supports XRENDER well enough to run KDE 3.5. Yes, it's usable on a 200MHz R5k O2. Not quite as snappy as any modern hardware but nowhere near as sluggish as you'd expect, and since Xsgi doesn't support any kind of XRENDER support, let alone hardware acceleration, pretty much anything using anti-aliased fonts gets a huge performance boost out of this compared to IRIX."
Silicon Graphics

SGI Lives On, In Name At Least 107

Hugh Pickens writes "In a surprise corporate move, after Rackable Systems received bankruptcy court approval on April 30 to close its purchase of SGI, the company announced on Monday that the deal had closed and that the combined company would be called SGI — short for Silicon Graphics International instead of the original Silicon Graphics Inc. The revival of the SGI brand will certainly please people in Silicon Valley with a historical bent, as SGI has been one of the area's true icons. However, some consider this a curious turn of events, considering that Rackable has come to represent the new guard in the server market, while SGI has struggled for years. Executives hope the name change will help it expand its business overseas, where SGI is a better-known brand. The new SGI will also continue to develop and support the high-performance computing systems that Silicon Graphics was known for, says Rackable's president and CEO. 'There should be no disruption to Silicon Graphics customers.'"
Sun Microsystems

IBM About To Buy Sun For $7 Billion 699

plasticsquirrel was one of several readers to send in the sharpening rumors that IBM is on the verge of acquiring Sun Microsystems, as we discussed last week. The pricetag is reportedly $7 billion. According to the NYTimes's sources, "People familiar with the negotiations say a final agreement could be announced Friday, although it is more likely to be made public next week. IBM's board has already approved the deal, they said." After the demise of SGI, one has to wonder about the future of traditional Unix. If the deal goes through, only IBM, HP, and Fujitsu will be left as major competitors in the market for commercial Unix. And reader UnanimousCoward adds, "Sun only came into the consciousness of the unwashed masses with the company not being able to get E10K's out the door fast enough in the first bubble. We here will remember some pizza-box looking thing, establishing 32 MB of RAM as a standard, and when those masses were scratching their heads at slogans like 'The Network is the Computer.' Add your favorite Sun anecdote here."

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