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User Mailing

ICHEC mail #12


Posted: 2005-12-06

Dear ICHEC users,

Contents:

1. Re-opening of the service on Walton
2. Acknowledging ICHEC in your publications
3. Applications for the Full National Service now open
4. ICHEC User Group meeting

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1 - Re-opening of the service on Walton
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We are happy to announce that the Walton service will re-open today (Tuesday 6th December), at 3pm. We would like to thank you for your patience and understanding while we addressed the hardware and software problems which have been affecting the cluster.

Two distinct problems had to be addressed:

1. Regular kernel panics (up to 3 per day): this problem was eventually narrowed down to the on-chip cache, and a physical inspection of the CPUs on these servers revealed that the "faulty" CPUs had residues between some of their pins. This material was later identified as residues from the anti-static packaging (which is obviously conductive). All identified faulty CPUs have now been replaced, although we were unable to check all the ~1,000 CPUs or so in the whole cluster.

2. Network interface dropping: problem determination proved quite challenging as this problem could potentially be attributed to hardware failure or a software bug / mis-configuration. As described in our earlier mailing however, the problem was tracked down to the drivers supplied with the on-board GigEth controller. These drivers have now been replaced with alternative versions from another supplier, and so far have proven to be very stable. We are currently running benchmarks to check the stability of the whole cluster under stress, and assess its performance with these new drivers.

Once again, we would like to thank you for your patience and apologise for the disruption to the service. Normal service will resume on Tuesday 6th December at 3pm.

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2- Acknowledging ICHEC in your publications
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We would appreciate a formal acknowledgement of ICHEC by inclusion in any resulting publications of the following sentence or some variation thereof:

"The authors wish to acknowledge the SFI/HEA Irish Centre for High-End Computing (ICHEC) for the provision of computational facilities and support."

See our FAQ.

We would also appreciate if you could let us know when such publications are being accepted for publication, as this constitutes one of the major metrics by which the scientific impact of ICHEC will be assessed.

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3- Applications for the Full National Service now open
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We are now ready to receive applications for the Full National Service. Note that the transitional service will be progressively phased out in January 2006, to give you sufficient time to prepare your application. The opening of the Full National Service will therefore take place on 1st February 2006. Users currently accessing our systems as part of the Transitional Service will automatically benefit from this one month extension.

Guidelines for applications to the Full National Service can be found on the ICHEC website.

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4 - ICHEC User Group meeting
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The first ICHEC "User group" meeting will shortly be held in Dublin (exact venue and date still pending confirmation). Registered ICHEC users are invited to attend this meeting, which will facilitate a discussion on the ICHEC transitional service from a users perspective and plans for the ICHEC National Service. This will be a half day event (13.30 – 17.15) and a provisional agenda is provided below. Further details will be provided on the ICHEC website.

Provisional Schedule:

- 13.30 Welcome and introduction

- 13.35 ICHEC status report
a/ hardware (reliability issues and acceptance)
b/ software
c/ utilisation and scheduling policies
d/ training and user support

- 14.15 ICHEC Phase 2
a/ outcome from the Phase 1 review
b/ user support activities: Service Level Agreement, Training, ICHEC Point of Presence
c/ applying for resources to the Full National Service

- 14.50 Remits of the users group / mechanism for nomination

- 15.00 - 15.20 tea/coffee break

- 15.20 - 17.00 open discussion: user feedback

- 17.00 - 17.15 session wrap-up

I will be in touch very shortly to confirm the exact dates of the User Group Meeting.

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