* Posts by HPCJohn

195 publicly visible posts • joined 18 Sep 2014


Europe to have 2 of the 4 most powerful supercomputers as Leonardo comes online


Re: UK..

You joke, but the second fastest supercomputer in the Top500, Fugaku, uses ARM CPUs


Re: Leonardo DiCaprio?

HPC clusters like this normally run a version of Linux. However int he days of the SGI Ultraviolet NUMA systems, Eng Lim Go of SGI had a demo where he booted a huge UV system into Windows and opened Excel.

You can probably find this demo online.

NASA OKs spacewalks, upgrades helmets after fishbowl mishap


Danger of water in spacesuit

Chris HAdfiled has a section in his book where he is on a spacewalk and there is a water leak in the helmet. I don't remember the exact details but it is very dangerous as water obviously does not drain away in zero G. I believe it could easily have choked him.

Using the datacenter as a dining room destroyed the platters that matter


Wine cellar

When I worked in post-production in Soho, one of the engineers was a renowned gourmand. He kept wine in the server room.

Nice stable temperature.

Mouse hiding in cable tray cheesed off its bemused user


Well, my war story is about serial connections. Now IT Can Be Told (TM). When working for a leading effects/animation house in Soho we had some very tasty SGI systems for effects. One was a state of the art SGI 3000 systems, running some important software and costing $$$. One day I decided I needed a serial console on this machine.

Merrily fetch an RS@#@ cable and plug my laptop into the serial port.. then... sound of running feet as many engineers rush into the machine room. What the fsck is going on? The effects machine is down.

Turns out there was some process started at boot time which hung onto the serial port - the act of actually connecting something to the serial port brought the system down.

I don't think I ever figured out what process this was.

Psst … Want to buy a used IBM Selectric? No questions asked


Re: Switching on the "monitor stand"

I had a similar teletype hooked up to my TRS-80

Bought teletype from local GPO telephone exchange surplus , fo ra fiver or a tenner.

It still had the address of the hotel it worked in hard wired in.

Same electrical setup - cassette output port connected to a mighty big transformer to drive the teletype circuitry.

Sadly the teletype went to the dump many years ago.

Machine learning the hard way: IBM Watson's fatal misdiagnosis


Re: started in Jeopardy

Sorry to answer so late. My father worked in a Glasgow University research unit in the 70s which was doing what we would now call deep learning in medicine. They used a PDP 11 (!!!). The unit studied gastrointestinal diseases. They built an easy to use terminal with yes/no style buttons as people then would have been scared off by a keyboard. They found that people answered a computer more truthfully about embarrassing GI symptoms.

OF COURSE the computer system was never used to deliver a diagnosis to the patient.


UK.gov presents its National Space Strategy: Space is worth billions to us. Just don't mention Brexit, OK?


Black Arrow

The UK is th eonly nation which has developed a spacefaring capacity. Then abandoned it after the first successful launch.

Why tell the doctor where it hurts, when you could use emoji instead?


The Boak

My father worked in a research unit in Gastrointestinal medicine in Glasgow. They were pioneers before their time in what we now call expert systems as applied to medicine. They found that people would be more open and honest in giving answers to GI symptoms when asked by computer.

HE tole me that when foreign doctors (read English too) came to Glasgow they had to be given language coaching 'A huv the dry boak doctor'

The Register just found 300-odd Itanium CPUs on eBay


Remember that the world was meant to go Windows NT. Dave Cutler hired from DEC to produce WNT.

WNT was going to run on desktops through to mainframes. What really killed the Alpha was Microsoft pulling the port of WNT to Alpha, if I recall correctly.


Re: The SGI Itaniums were OK

I managed several SGI Itanium systems. They were very good for CFD work.

True tale - when a blade had to be replaced on an Altix, the SGI engineer had to phone a number in the States and get a unique code. Else the blade would not join the system.

Preventing $COUNTRY fro assembling a supercomputer by buying spare parts.

HP Inc slurps Teradici to get better at delivering remote PCs


How it differs? Built in encryption, adaptive compression of moving graphics.

You can do 3D CAD etc. over a PCOIP session.


The keyboard and mouse devices appear as USB devices.

SO the cute thing is that you can lock out unknown USB devices - such as USB drives - at the hardware level. Your remote workstation never 'sees' them at all.

For hardware PCOIP you have a daughter card power from the host workstation, and appears on the bus as a USB device for keyboard/mouse.

The graphics card output is looped into the PCOIP card and there is an onboard processor which does the conversion to a network stream. The card has its own ethernet connector.


Re: Switching on the "monitor stand"

Teradici PCOIP is fantastic - I have deployed it. RDP is of course adequate for desktop use. But if you are doing high end graphics and 3D then PCOIP is what you need. I gather it uses adaptive compression - different compression depending on the type of movement on the screen.

PCOIP Also 'builds to lossless' - so on restricted bandwidth when you stop moving or rotating you will get a lossless image.

PCOIP is also entirely secure - certified to UK Govt standards.

Go to L: A man of the cloth faces keyboard conundrum


My mother was a trained typist. Yes indeed with early computers she would use lower case L and letter O

When I got a TRS-80 Model 1 for Christmas she set it up on a special shock absorbing typists mat. Then sat if front of it in the proper position, wrists cocked.

She then proceeded to pound the hell out of it. You could actually see the case bend.

Typists in those days were STRONG.

'It's dead, Jim': Torvalds marks Intel Itanium processors as orphaned in Linux kernel


Re: Itanic industrial mistake

Bozos? You mean like Rolls Royce? And the hundreds of SGI Altix supercomputers?

These ran SuSE Linux and they weren't constructed in a shed by some wild eyed open source evangelists.


SGI Altix also

Itanium was a great architecture for CFD work and meshing.

Not only HP machines - SGI Altix were constructed from Itanium processors. NUMA machines which could address huge amounts of memory.

When a blade was replaced in an SGI Altic, when the machine was rebooted the blade would join the system.

Of course there were export control regulations - Uncle Sam did not want $nation to make supercomputers by buying up spare blades..

So when a blade was replaced the SGI engineer had to phone up a number in the USA and be given a code number to type in at boot time.

Or the blade would not be recognised.

You can drive a car with your feet, you can operate a sewing machine with your feet. Same goes for computers obviously


Typists using early PCs

My mother was a shorthand typist. I got a TRS-80 as a Christmas present. We introduced my mother to the machine.

She set it up on a special heavy rubber pad - such things were used to support typewriters and you are about to know why.

She sat in a proper position, hands poised above the keyboard...

Then proceeded to POUND THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS out of it. I saw the case flex under the onslaught.

typists were trained to operate mechanical devices which needed a lot of force...

Also she would use the letter l key for the digit 1 - I think typewriters lacked a digit 1 key as you could work out the sense from context.

Also she was an audio typist who used a foot pedal. Never used the mouse with her foot though - she was a smart lady!

'Massive game-changer for UK altnet industry': BT-owned UK comms backbone Openreach hikes prices on FTTP-linked leased line circuits



We have Hyperoptic in the apartment building where I live. they are excellent.

There is a half rack of kit in the underground car park and Cat5 out to each apartment.

I believe they use Openrach for FTTP - so what is this price hike going to mean for Hyperoptic customers? I guess we will end up paying more.

Lift us up where we belong: UK's Network Rail puts elevators online



At FOSDEM this year there was a marvellous talk by a German company. They have microphones on escalators, and have deep learnign models listening for clanks and squeaks. This gives early warning of breakdowns


Red Hat tips its Fedora 33: Beta release introduces Btrfs as default file system, .NET on ARM64, plus an IoT variant


Re: Switching on the "monitor stand"

Why not? You have to have SOME fun in life.

Are you feeling lucky, punk? Are you?

Hidden Windows Terminal goodies to check out: Retro mode that emulates blurry CRT display – and more


Re: Blurry CRT Mode

One feature of Windows I really want...

Sadly windows Terminal is not available for the build of Windows on my laptop.. grrrr


Love MobaXterm and I second this recommendation

This PDP-11/70 was due to predict an election outcome – but no one could predict it falling over


Re: The elevator did it

Magnetised monitors? You've never been to CERN then have you? Back in the days of CRT monitors I worked underground in one of the CERN experiments. We had a 1.5 Tesla magnet which you could walk into. We just had to tilt otu heads to the side to read the text on the CRTs...


Re: The elevator did it

Now it can be told.. I worked in a frather famous Soho effects and animation house. One of our very expensive effects suites had clients in payung $$$. The suite was run by a $$$ SGI Origin 2000 machine with fancy graphics pipelines.

Cue me in the machine room, needing a serial terminal to log in. I start a serial terminal ont he laptop and plug into an RS-232 port on the SGI Origin. Which promptly reboots.

Cue sound of running feet and the server room door bursting open...

Turns out there was a process sitting waiting on that RS-232 port. For what I do not know.. but as soon as it received any data the machine reboots.


Re: Switching on the "monitor stand"

I got sound from my TRS-80 by toggling the Cassette OUt line.

Attach a speaker to it an place into a hole cut ina yoghurt pot. voila

Oh what a cute little animation... OH MY GOD. (Not acceptable, even in the '80s)


Re: Adult floppies...

I shall look at that channel.

In my student days I bought a surplus BT baudot teleprinter for a fiver (or maybe a tenner). TI took two people to lift the thing. IT still had the hotel code for where it was originally stationed wired on, so would print this.

I connected it up as a printer to my TRS-80. Wish I still had it but it was huge and was binned at some point.

Never printed smut on it!

IBM job ad calls for 12 years’ experience with Kubernetes – which is six years old


Re: Switching on the "monitor stand"

I remember downlaoding stuff from wsmr - White Sands Missile Range - in the early days.

I though tit quite daring to log onot a military site and download files. If I'm not wrong that was an FTP site. might have been Gopher also.

Cool IT support drones never look at explosions: Time to resolution for misbehaving mouse? Three seconds


Re: Switching on the "monitor stand"

Back in the days of CRT monitors in offices I Was once warned against Christmas tinsel bedecking monitors.

Something about static charge being gathered by metallic tinsel.

I was also given the line that CRT monitors give you spots. The screen does get charged, which produces an image charge on your face which attracts dirt.

SO spotty IT nerds may not be that much of a cliche.

Swedish data centre offers rack-scale dielectric immersion cooling


Energy use

Having worked for a company which has liquid cooled servers, a lot of the energy use in a data centre is due to the small whing fans inside servers.

SO going for Opencompute with fanless servers and large fans in the rear is a plus already.

Then go for water cooled rear doors.


Re: With 500MW

It is in the Nordics. They probably have existing hydro electric capacity next door.

For the UK, I have often said that why is there not a green data centre in Kinlochleven?

There was a hydeoelectric plant there for an aluminium smelter.


I guess the hydro plant may no longer be active, and not worth reviving.

Danger zone! Brit research supercomputer ARCHER's login nodes exploited in cyber-attack, admins reset passwords and SSH keys


Re: SSH keys & the coming apocalypse

Oh DO come on... You want security?

PBS used to use rhosts trusts in the old days.


Re: how i'd do it

Quite often when you first log into an HPC system a script is triggered which generates a passwordless key pair, for use within that system. So yes, you have separate keys.


I would rather glibly say munge https://github.com/dun/munge

I guess though if an attacker gets root then all bets are off.

If you don't LARP, you'll cry: Armed fun police swoop to disarm knight-errant spotted patrolling Welsh parkland


Re: WTF ?!!


These tragic deaths are in the UK.

'Lightweight' UPS-style flywheels to power naval laser zappers


F1 KERS flywheels

Williams F1 developed a flywheel for KERS energy storage. This is tightly wound carbon fibre filaments. It is lightweight and spins extremely fast.

There is a danger when flywheels fail, I gather the carbon fibre one is safer than most as it explodes into carbon fibre particles (which probably should not be breated in).

That flywheel was said to be being commericalised - I wonder of the Navy are using that technology?


A new Raspberry Pi takes a bow with all of the speed but less of the RAM


USB-C port

I love the USB-C standard, and have it on my laptop.

Thoughts on why USB-C is not on Rasp PI? I guess that having a separate HDMI output is no big consumer os space, and it allows hobbyists and schoolchildren to hook up a cheal HDMI Cable to a standard television. With a USB-C port you would need a separate hub to fan out to HDMI, stanrard USB for keyboard and mouse, and for ethernet. Which would cost more than the Rasp PI

Also I guess USB-C chipsets aren't integrated with the SoCs used on Rasp Pi.


Julia 0.7 arrives but let's call it 1.0: Data science code language hits milestone on birthday



Loading 100GB of data and analysing 100 years worth of climate data


Achieved anything?

I am sitting in a talk right now where a researcher is analyzin biodiversity around the world.

OR how about the production risk model at a major insurance company?

Or using ulia to model pharmacokinetics?


Re: Indices...

Joe W, you have it exactly. You can change to using Julia for every one of those use cases, except LabView probably.

Give it a try - but at the Reg says use 0.7 for the moment. You may end up liking it!


Re: Gaston Julia

The discussion on naming Julia comes around n the Julia discourse regularly.

It is not named after anything in particular.

Sysadmin sank IBM mainframe by going one VM too deep



Those keyboard did make a racket though when you were typing.



Wow. That brings back memories.

As a graduate student in high energy physics, I got my very own 3270 terminal, connected to the mainframe downstairs by twinax cables.

Best keyboard I have ever had.

Many joyful days running virtual machines under CMS. I remember the REIPL CMS command to reboot (Initial Program Load). It probably would all come back if I got a 3270 in front of me!

In later days I got a FALCO terminal at CERN. VT220 emulation, plus a hotkey to Tektronix graphics emulation. I used a 3270 emulator on DEC VMS to access the mainframes there.

Boss helped sysadmin take down horrible client with swift kick to the nether regions


Geat column

Great column and some great stories. Brightened up my Fridays as beer o'clock approaches.

Architects? Power-hungry GPU fiends? HP has something for you


Re: desktops in a rack?

You cram them in a rack because they will likely to be accessed remotely.

OK, these ones are said to be quiet. But powerful workstations, as the article says, are noisy and produce heat.

So you use Teradici PCOIP terminals or Citrix to access them


These guys are good at this, and I have worked with them.

Advantages are:

Low power, silent terminal on your desktop, can be on the back of your monitor.

Secure encryption for spooky sites.

Workstations are secure in the data centre, your data never leaves there.

Workstations are on a fast network near the data.

If a workstation fails, you just connect another one in the rack up to the desktop, No crawlin about under desks ad the engineer gets up and running faster.

Boffins mix AI and chemicals to create super-fast lab assistant


Things I wont Work With

Fantastic blog from an experienced chemist:


What if the AI is stupid enough to try brewing up FOOF for instance?


In the blog Derek describes compounds so reactive that if they go on fire and you throw the sand bucket on them.. the sand catches fire...

I'm no chemist, but I have seen notices in chemistry departments about compunds which smell so bad you have to notify people. What if the AI fancied a little batch of one of them?

Shouting lager, lager... Carlsberg's beer AI can now tell pilsners apart


Carlsberg IPA

Living in Copenhagen, I can say that the Carlsberg Brewmasters IPA is not half bad.

thinking of that, I might have a tin or two watching the sun go down over the harbour this evening.

I prefer Jacobsen Brown Ale actually, which I find very good. Burp.

EU plans for domestic exascale supercomputer chips: A RISC-y business


David, I believe the target for a realistic Exascale machine is 30MW - not as in target to get above 30, but to get below.

Yes indeed, having worked for several HPC integrators the running costs are just as important as the hardware. So any innovative schemes to improve the PUE, or indeed to reduce the power per transistor switch cycle, are of interest.


Re: Why is Europe fixated on low power?

None of these designs are low power because at the end of the day a transistor is a transistor.

Well said. There is work going into the power consumption per instructions 'picowatts per flop'.

I saw one commen tthat the advent of GPU computing taught a generation that double precision floating point is not needed for everything. I think there will be more effort put into choosing the appropriate precision for calculations, saving power by making the actual algorithms more power aware.

Tech team trapped in data centre as hypoxic gas flooded in. Again


Re: We had the CO2 equivalent

In the Oxford Supercomputer centre they have a similar system. An inert gas is used to keep the oxygen content in the server room below the point at which ignition will occur, but you can still breathe.

Very sensible safety precautions there are never to work alone.

I do recall feeling a bit woozy after being in the server room for a few hours though.