SCD Supercomputer Gallery

Connection Machine 5 (littlebear): 1993–1996

Littlebear, the Connection Machine 5

A a 32-node Connection Machine-5 (CM-5) from Thinking Machines Corporation arrived at NCAR on April 21, 1993.

The CM-5 cost $1.47 million ($46K per node) and was paid for with DARPA funds.

By October 1993, about a dozen people were starting to use it.

Following the tradition of naming its supercomputers after peaks in the Colorado Rockies, SCD named the CM-5 — specifically, the CM-5 control processor — "littlebear." (Whimsical system administrators then named the CM-5 compile server "teddybear.")

Each of littlebear's 32 nodes had four vector units and a Sun SPARC microprocessor that could perform 22 million instructions per second. The machine had 1 gigabyte of internal memory (32 megabytes per node) and performed at a peak speed of 128 megaflops per node. The CM-5 also had a large Scalable Disk Array with a UNIX filesystem and 24 gigabytes available for storing user data.

Within the CM-5, computational and disk storage nodes were integrated into a single architecture that featured scalable input/output (I/O), communications, memory, and processing. The CM-5 ran CMost, a Sun-based UNIX operating system that could service multiple users on a time-shared basis.

The CM-5 supported two programming models, data parallel and control parallel.

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The machine was decommissioned in October 1996.