[rescue] Cheapest Cray?

Dave McGuire mcguire at neurotica.com
Sun Apr 25 23:18:24 CDT 2004

On Apr 25, 2004, at 11:42 PM, Torquil MacCorkle, III wrote:
>     Could you give us some actual ballpark pricing on all these?  (I 
> know it
> is "worth whatever you are willing to pay" or in my case "more than you
> have," but just for archival purposes.) :)

   There is absolutely no way to tell.  If eBay is any reference (and 
let's face it...it is), I've seen EL98 system end with no bids at 
$2000, and a few months later see them sell for $8000 after an intense 
bidding war.  It really varies depending on who is looking and who has 
money.  If I were still pulling down $110K/yr I'd buy absolutely every 
one that showed up on the market, pretty much regardless of price (and 
I did exactly that for a while), but I'm out of that game for now.

   The biggest thing that keeps their resale value down is blank 
disks...no OS.  You simply WILL NOT find Unicos floating around, and 
Cray charges serious bucks for it...I was quoted $10,000 for a license 
and media for a J90 a couple of years ago.  While the EL family and the 
J90 family are all YMP-architecture machines, and as such are binary 
compatible, the OS loads are different.  I bought an EL series machine 
at one point only because it had a bootable Unicos load on its drives, 
which I used to bring up one of my other machines.

   The last point of Cray's responsibility in a service contract (which 
everyone bought...because even I wouldn't buy a multi-million-dollar 
supercomputer without a service contract) is to "deinstall" the machine 
when you don't want to run it anymore.  They shut it down, disconnect 
everything, coil up all the cables, put seals on all the cards (to 
certify them eligible for maintenance in the future), neaten everything 
up, and...you guessed it...wipe the drives.  So the new owner pretty 
much has to go to them and give them a shit-ton of money to bring the 
machine up again.

   Sometimes, however, machines slip out of production without anyone 
calling Cray to "deinstall" them...and that's how a few copies of 
Unicos have made it out into the wild.  Word on the street is that Cray 
turns the other cheek for hobbyist/preservationist applications, but 
the moment you make a dollar from it, expect to hear from their 
lawyers.  It would not be wise to test this...Cray knows damn well that 
a J90 is still a viable supercomputer today, even if the Intel-trained 
PC kiddiez don't.  If you have one of these machines that's bootable, 
use it in good spirit, but if you plan to make money on it, even a 
little, pay Cray their money and buy a legitimate Unicos license.  You 
have been warned.


Dave McGuire          "PC users only know two 'solutions'...
Cape Coral, FL          reboot and upgrade."    -Jonathan Patschke

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