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Photo gallery: How to install a scientific supercomputer, from A-Z

IBM bluesky system is largest computer installation in the history of NCAR

Large empty area in Computer Room
Before ...

SCD's George Fuentes checks out an LED
After!

by Lynda Lester

On 15 November 2002, NCAR joined the top 10 elite of the world's fastest supercomputing centers due to its acquisition of bluesky, an IBM SP system with a peak speed of 6.3 teraflops. The system is currently nearing completion of its 30-day Acceptance Testing Phase.

Bluesky was delivered and installed in October 2002, the largest computer installation in the history of NCAR. It represents Phase II of NCAR's Advanced Research Computing System (ARCS).

SCD was in charge of the bluesky acquisition, working for months in advance to build a solid infrastructure to support the system and to customize hardware and software configurations. Knowing bluesky would double electrical consumption in the Computer Room from 300 to more than 600 kilowatts, SCD installed six new electrical panels, a new 250-ton chiller, and three additional air handlers to control the additional heat. SCD cross-sectional planning teams worked closely with the IBM Large Systems Support Group in Poughkeepsie, New York, to ensure that system requirements were met and installation would be expeditious and smooth.

When seven semi trucks arrived from New York carrying 168,000 pounds of equipment, SCD supervised unloading, unpacking, installation, and cleanup operations. Here is a photo record of those historic events.

Plastic curtain protecting work areaSCD's Aaron Andersen and IBM staffIBM's Kevin Babb and Jim BarnhartNCAR Computer Room is clearedHPS staff confersEmpty Computer Room with blue tape on floor

Two trucks of IBM equipmentSemi truck backs up to loading dockMovers carry Masonite into Computer RoomATD's Jeff Bobka offloads a crateATD's Jeff Bobka and Joe Van Andel uncrate a frameSCD's Gary New clears out equipmentSCD's Aaron Andersen pushes a giant box

Four frames stand in the back SCD hallA row of IBM frames await unpacking in the Computer RoomIBM engineer unwraps a frameIBM frames await installationIBM's Jim Carey moves a load of cardboardIBM engineers stack cardboard for recycling

IBM engineers discard styrofoamSCD's Gary New oversees materials removalNCAR's Rich Johnson helps hoist a palletNCAR crane stands byIBM installation engineers push a bluesky frameIBM team moves a frame into place

IBM team jockeys a frameIBM engineers position a bluesky frameIBM's Randy Haymann gestures toward an IBM frameIBM and SCD teams wait for cablesFloor tiles are removedIBM engineers connect switch cables

IBM engineers work on bluesky installationIBM team stops for a status reportPile of coiled power cablesIBM engineers connect power cablesIBM engineers plug in cablesIBM engineers work on power cablesIBM site reps assess progress

IBM engineer works on switch cablesPaul Swanson positions a cableSCD's Gary New reinforces the floorIBM engineers close up floorInside a switch frameIBM engineer wires up hardware maintenance consolesIBM's Jan Ranck-Gustafson checks wiring

IBM engineer connects a cableIBM and SCD staff conferIBM team checks with SCD's Stan McLaughlinSCD staff comment on installationSCD's Stan McLaughlin finishes installing a catwalk

IBM and SCD staff congregate before the powerupIBM's Randy Haymann gives a quick polish to a frameSCD staff watch Al Kellie throw the first switchIBM's Jan Ranck-Gustafson brings up blueskyIBM team pauses for group photoSCD team at the end of a hectic week


For more information

User documentation for bluesky is available at http://www.scd.ucar.edu/docs/ibm

For additional information on bluesky, see these stories in SCD News:

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