[Beowulf] Outdoor location?

Geoff Jacobs gdjacobs at gmail.com
Wed Aug 23 22:01:40 PDT 2006

Vincent Diepeveen wrote:
> It's funny that you mention Germany and outdoor supercomputing in 1
> sentence.
> Memories.
> Paderborn februari 1999.
> It feels like yesterday.
> Travelling on the highway towards Paderborn, which is quite both the
> center as well as the supercomputing center of Germany,
> i fight my way through the thin wet-snow on the German highways towards
> Paderborn. A Mercedes passes by, at half its normal
> speed of 200KM/h (unlimited speed at German highways). 30 minutes later,
> meanwhile i had to slow down to 30 kilometer
> an hour at the highway, because of the everything penetrating thin snow,
> i pass that Mercedes again. Me on the road, the Mercedes
> on the damage lane.
> Finally, after 5 hours of driving over a distance that normally is far
> under 2 hours, i arrive at the big cube.
> The Siemens-Nixdorf supercomputing center.

I'm assuming this is a Fujitsu-Siemens facility. Lots of VPPs, that sort
of stuff?

> Trying to get air, meanwhile the snow enters every corner of my face, i
> stand in front of the huge complex in front of the first door
> and knock on it. It opens. I walk further 2 meters and stand in front of
> another door. With a big DANG and a loud CLICK the first door closes
> behind me.
> Half a minute later, the door in front of me opens.
> The security guard barks as only Germans typically can do to their dog
> and uninvited guests:
> "Was haben Sie hier zu suchen?" (Why are you here sir?)
> After 15 minutes with the security guard, who spells every letter that
> stands in my passport, meanwhile trying to write a novel about it,
> i finally get liberated by Rainer Feldmann, who nearly gets saluted by
> the guard: "Guten Morgen Herr Doktor".
> Now we walk a funny route in the building. First we go 50 meters to the
> right. Then we walk 100 meters to the left,
> again 100 meters left. Meanwhile Rainer with a happy face asks me
> whether i hear the ear deafening sound, making me nod.
> "That's the water central."
> Then we arrive at the playing hall at which point i start to wonder
> whether the route we walked was the most efficient one to get there.

You're translating from Dutch? What was the word you were shooting to
translate? I'm guessing you wanted a word like control room.

> When i ask the by then already bigtime smiling Rainer: "What hardware do
> you play at?", i get promptly answer, as if he expected that question:
>   "We just walked around it!".

Didn't you notice the way your fillings hurt, and your watch stopped
half-way down the hall.

> Entering a room, i shake hands with Ulf Lorenz. Then i walk towards the
> window, or whatever they call windows there.
> Had the Pentagon been equipped with what they call windows there,
> probably the damage would've been less a 2.5 years later!
> Ulf, seeing that i look to the windows says: "Yes it is always 19C in
> the entire building. No winter, no summer, always 19C.
> It's the only disadvantage of this building, some people get sick of it
> here."

I guess your point is that really serious computing facilities (hint,
hint - send me pictures) are very particular about their climate
control. Then again, when your machines are costing $10^7 to purchase, I
guess a dedicated, climate controlled building a little easier to swallow.

Culturally. MPP machines have always tended to sit on the verge of being
cult idols, complete with a caste of high priests, glorious temples, and
regular offerings. For me, that's part of the mystique.

However, just like a Ferrari, I wouldn't want to own one. A consequence
free ride on a quiet road one day would be fine, though.

> But all this avoids of course that a Russian expedition army can rob
> empty the entire building in a single dark night.
> Vincent

Geoffrey D. Jacobs

Go to the Chinese Restaurant,
Order the Special

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