Boston University

From: Glenn Bresnahan, Director, Scientific Computing and Visualization (
Claudio Rebbi, Director, Center for Computational Science (
Subject: Important Changes to the Scientific Computing Facilities
Date: Apr 11, 2012

Dear Colleague,

We are writing to inform you about important changes that are taking place in the Scientific Computing Facilities as we prepare to move our computing resources to the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center (MGHPCC) in Holyoke, MA. While the MGHPCC is not scheduled to become operational until the beginning of 2013, some of the changes outlined below will happen imminently while others will extend throughout 2013.

The first changes that will occur will be the decommissioning of the IBM Pentium 3 Linux cluster and the IBM pSeries cluster. The decommissioning of the Pentium cluster, along with its head nodes Skate and Cootie, has already begun and we will no longer dispatch jobs to run on those compute nodes. The IBM pSeries cluster, and its head node Twister, will be decommissioned on June 1, 2012. You may continue to login to the head nodes, Twister and Skate/Cootie (which have been merged), until the end of May. Your home directories on Twister will remain accessible until September on the other SCF system under the file system /ibm/$HOME (i.e. your home directory path). Please move any files you need to your Katana home directory or elsewhere as the /ibm directory will be eliminated in September, 2012. We will also retain the computer name Twister, which will become an alias for the Katana cluster head node, so Email to that address will continue to work.

Although the older Linux cluster and the pSeries cluster supply only a small fraction of the total SCF computing capacity, we will be mitigating these losses by augmenting the newer (Katana) Linux cluster with an additional 28 four-core nodes, which are being redeployed from another project. Although these nodes are not the newest technology, they provide far more capabilities than the nodes they replace. These additional nodes will remain operational until we complete the migration of the Katana cluster to the MGHPCC in 2013.

Once the MGHPCC becomes operational in early 2013, we will begin building a new Linux cluster in that facility. Over three years we expect to grow this cluster to several thousand cores. After the initial installation is complete, we will begin moving and integrating the newer nodes from the existing Katana cluster into the new cluster in Holyoke. This process will continue throughout 2013. The oldest nodes in the existing cluster will remain on campus until the end of 2013 and will then be retired.

Starting with a pilot program this year and continuing annually, we will offer a buy-in option for the Linux cluster in which researchers may purchase additional nodes for priority use by their individual research projects. We will be providing additional information on this program over the next few months.

In the second half of 2013, we will also retire the IBM BlueGene/L. This system, which was installed in 2005, was declared obsolete by IBM last year and IBM service is no longer available. Although we have obtained a supply of the most commonly replaced components, we have no assurances that the machine will be repairable in the event of a failure. We strongly encourage you to begin to migrate any BG/L applications that you may have to the Linux cluster. As always, SCV staff stand ready to assist you in any porting efforts.

We will continue to keep you informed as things progress. Please visit the SCV MGHPCC page for information and updates on the data center. Please feel free to contact us or any members of the SCV team with concerns or questions.


Glenn Bresnahan, Director, Scientific Computing and Visualization (

Claudio Rebbi, Director, Center for Computational Science (