HPC Disruption

In 1991, I joined Cray and had the opportunity to work on the machines Seymour Cray designed. I was working on the operating system and would often have to work alone on it at night, but the excitement of working on such unique systems kept me going. The Cray 1, XMP, YMP, represented a family of machines where a differentiated architecture and design allowed you to solve problems that you just couldn’t solve with a regular computer.

When I joined, Cray was considering building a new type of parallel machines we called MPPs (massively parallel processing). I worked on the design and implementation of the operating system for the Cray T3E, a system with 2048 individual nodes, with standard CPU chips, memory, and a proprietary high-speed interconnect.  Ahead of its time, Cray was building what we today call HPC clusters. Besides it being a fantastic engineering project, it was the beginning of a disruption: going from proprietary Cray architectures to clusters of nodes with commodity parts.

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This article was written by Gabriel Broner.