Tuesday, July 15, 2014


We are at the point where we can power up the Cray and begin configuring it. Next we need to work on the J90 System Console (or SWS, the Service WorkStation.) This is used to net boot the I/O Processors in the I/O Subsystem, which in turn loads UNICOS into the J90 main memory. The SWS is a Sun SPARCstation 5 running Solaris. We didn't get the original SS5 that came with the Cray so we had to build one.

Sun SPARCstation 5
The SWS with ThinWire Ethernet, FDDI, and graphics.
We had a couple of these lying around, but they weren't in very good shape. We cobbled together a system from the parts which is better configured than what would have been used when the J90 was installed in 1996. This system has the maximum of 256 MB of RAM and a 24 bit S24 TCX graphics card.

There are two Ethernet interfaces. The one on the SBus card is 10BASE2, more informally known as ThinWire. This is only used to connect the SWS to the two I/O Processors in the I/O Subsystem. This allows the IOPs to net boot from the SWS and is also used to configure and manage the system.

The second Ethernet connects to our main network as does the Ethernet card in an IOS VME slot which is the main system Ethernet for the J90. We also added a FDDI card for use later.

The disk is a whopping 9 GB. I didn't realize that the first drive I tried was a 10K RPM and the poor workstation almost overheated. The cooling is not very well designed and it can only take disks that don't run too hot.

After installing Solaris 2.5 we then added the J90 Console software. Here's a screenshot of the OpenWindows desktop.

J90 software installation
Screen shot of the SWS desktop show the J90 Installation running.

Each IOP is a single board computer made by Themis. It has a Sun SPARC processor with Ethernet and resides in a VME backplane. Local SCSI devices can be attached to it, but our IOS only has a single tape drive for installing system software. The IOPs boot from the network.

First we open up a console connection in a terminal window on the SWS. Then we power up the Cray. The IOP first uses bootp to load the firmware. This is similar to OpenBoot on other SPARC systems. From the prompt you can then load the IOS-V kernel which is based on VxWorks.

J90 Console
J90 Console showing load of the IOS-V kernel.
Everything looks good so far, but there are a couple of error messages due to an incomplete configuration. The IOS is not seeing the J90 processors or devices on the VME. Next we need to figure out how to create the missing config files.

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