[rescue] Cray J90s

Dave McGuire rescue at sunhelp.org
Tue Jun 12 17:27:26 CDT 2001

On June 12, Jonathan Katz wrote:
> On Tue, Jun 12, 2001 at 05:49:24PM -0400, Dave McGuire wrote:
> > > http://cgi.ebay.com/aw-cgi/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=1245498968
> > > http://cgi.ebay.com/aw-cgi/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=1244448223
> >   Actually, they're both real steals in the grand scheme of things.
> > The supercomputer secondary market is a very, very strange thing.  If
> > anyone here is really interested, I'd be happy to explain why these
> > two (and the third) systems aren't selling worth a damn on eBay, in
> > spite of being relisted over and over at lower and lower prices.
> How low will it go? I heard stuff about things overseas and they
> can't ship them overseas and stuff... please edumacate us!

  These very systems had high bids in the $15K range a couple of
months ago.  A fellow in Germany was bidding on them.  As far as I was
able to tell, he had the money and was able to complete the
transactions...but the sellers here couldn't export the hardware.  So
they were relisted.

  Trouble is...Unless you dig around and find out exactly what
happened, what would one think when one sees a machine sell, then get
relisted a week or two later?  I'd think "oh shit, their deal fell
through, something must've gone wrong...there's probably something
wrong with the machine" or something like that.  Most people aren't
familiar enough with this sort of hardware to be able to take a chance
on it not being 100% functional out-of-the-box.  Even booting a J90
takes several steps...it's not that complex, but it's still a rpcedure
that one must learn, and there are NO doc sets available on the

  Further, for people who ARE familiar with the hardware, we poke
around a bit and notice that the machines (all three of them) are
incomplete in one way or another.  Every J90 comes with a Sun Sparc5
loaded with Solaris and a bunch of Cray software that controls the
powerup diags and booting of the J90.  The machine cannot run without
this [unmodified Sun] Sparc5 and its [impossible to get] software.

  Basically, you need to befriend someone who has a running machine
and a willingness to help you, or you have no hope of ever getting it

> Especially because there is the possibility of some kind of CFD
> homework that I may do, except I can't code for crap and don't
> remember much calculus.

  If you figure out the calculus and ship me a sixpack of Red Bull, I
could probably be talked into giving you an account on one of my
Crays.  I can help you out with writing vectorizable code also.  It's
actually lots of fun.

      -Dave McGuire

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