Supercomputers, fishing for information

Randy Dawson rdawson16 at
Sat Nov 5 16:30:44 CDT 2016

I can take the Titan off your hands if you like, I have really wanted this machine.  I am serious, and with $$.

Here is some things for you if you decide to keep it and turn me down.

A great book, all about its development and includes technical details about the Titan bus, and an intro By Gordon Bell:

The "Architecture of Supercomputers, Titan, a Case Study" Daniel P. Siewiorek, Philip Jonathan Koopman, Jr. ISBN 0-12-643060-8

This was sort of a promotional book, the sales guys would give this out to customers, also a complete shelf of documentation.

Their target market was scientific visualization, they had Stellar jumping into this also, so it was West Coast vs East coast and their was not enough market anyway, even as sexy as scientific visualization was at the time. They merged, then failed as Stardent.  Silicon Graphics hung on for bit longer with the movie industry, then they fell too.  (Note that Google HQ is the SGI building, I find it disgusting that they put pink flamingos around the Jurassic Park dino statue.)

The key software on the Ardent is Advanced Visualization System, AVS, an Ardent product that survived and still exists today.  It is a graphical data-flow type application, much like Labview or GNURadio are two examples that come to mind.  You wire up function blocks to process and create the visualization stream, then the last key element is their Dore' (Dynamic Object Rendering Environment) that does all the wow factor graphics in realtime.  There was a knob box too, for XYZ or manipulating the data.

The Ardent roadshow had 'FLAG' as a demo with the knob box, you could adjust windspeed and direction, lighting also to see a fully rendered finite element model of a cloth flag waving in the wind in realtime.  Pretty impressive for the late '80s.

When it all crashed Kubota came in for the rescue (a tractor company???!!! wha? )

The spun out one more machine based on Intel's 'Cray on a chip' the i860.  I saw one of these, it was a desktop uinit, and reminded me of SGI's Indy.

Dore' is still out there and released to public domain, it was one of the 'ports' in FreeBSD.  I did get it up and running with the 'Flag' demo.

I hope you get yours up and running on the real hardware.


From: cctech <cctech-bounces at> on behalf of Camiel Vanderhoeven <iamcamiel at>
Sent: Saturday, November 5, 2016 7:02 AM
To: General Discussion: On-Topic Posts Only
Subject: Supercomputers, fishing for information

I'm making arrangements to have four (mini-)supercomputers from the
1980's shipped to me. In the mean time, I'm trying to find out what I
can about these systems, so this is a fishing expedition.

The systems are:
* Convex C1-XP
* Convex C1-XL
* Intel iPSC/860
* Ardent Titan

Pictures of these can be found on my website, at
Four Supercomputers - VAXBARN<>
Hopefully, if all goes well, I will soon be the owner of three four 1980's (mini-)supercomputers, although I'm not 100% sure exactly what they are (more on that when ...

(click on the thumbnails to see a larger version)

I'd like to get in touch with anyone who knows anything about these
machines, as well as anyone who may have documentation, but I also
have two specific questions:

- Can anyone identify the tape drives shown in the pictures? I believe
the one in the Intel iPSC/860 is an Exabyte 8mm one, but the ones used
on the Convex and the Ardent are a mystery to me.

- Does anyone know what the SRM (System Resource Manager) for the
iPSC/860 physically looks like? Does it look like a PC, and does it
say Intel on the front?

Reason I'm asking is that I'm getting these out of an estate, and I
need to tell them what to look for.



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