December 1995

IEEE/ACM Supercomputing

Supercomputing 1994 had been a very positive experience for us and a lot of good exposure for Purdue and our work, so we wanted to do much the same for 1995. However, San Diego isn't a road trip like Washington D.C. was, so we had to cut back on the quantity of stuff being brought to the show. Thus, instead of a 20' by 20' booth with four clusters, we simply had a 10' by 20' booth (R22) with two clusters on one end and software displays on the other end.

The hardware side.
The hardware side of the booth displayed two clusters. One cluster was the rather familiar group of four IBM ValuePoint 486DX33 machines running Linux. The other four-machine cluster was built specifically to be easy to carry around for demonstrations. Named the "TTL_PAPERS Microcluster," it consists of a group of four Compaq Aero subnotebook computers and a miniature oak rack mount.

TTL_PAPERS Microcluster.
Since they only have 486SX25 processors (without floating point hardware), the microcluster machines are not fast. However, the entire cluster only weighs about 30 pounds and fits within a 1' cube. The miniature oak rack mount houses a four-machine TTL_PAPERS unit, power supplies, and space to pack both an extension cord and the cables for the TTL_PAPERS unit. This TTL_PAPERS unit is the design from November 1994, as described in the HTML handout. For travel, there is an oak top plate that secures the laptops and provides a shoulder strap, while a plate with three wheels attaches to the bottom with velcro... in summary, it can go anywhere and can even be run using battery power.

Heterogeneous cluster.
Because Supercomputing '95 also marked the release of our scalable eight-machine TTL_PAPERS 951201 design, all day December 6, 1995, we demonstrated an eight-machine cluster using the obviously heterogeneous combination of the four ValuePoints and the four Aeros. An HTML handout describes the 951201 design. A variation of the multi-voice music demo clearly demonstrated the tight coupling of machines within this cluster.

PAPERS history.
In addition to the TTL_PAPERS units that were operating in our booth, there was a TTL_PAPERS 950801 unit and a wooden plant rack holding various earlier PAPERS prototypes. While we are on the topic, the quality of the woodwork for the PAPERS cabinets was yet again heading the list of comments from visitors to our booth... maybe there is a message there for commercial computer vendors...?

The software side.
On the other side of our booth, just past the circle of chairs gathered around the ValuePoint cluster, were two tables for the software demonstrations for our booth. The KIWI project took one table, the TTL_PAPERS (and TTL_VAPERS simulator) library took the other. An HTML handout describes the library. We also had an HTML handout on the new giveioperm() system call for secure direct port access under Linux.

PAPERS booth people.
Well, after the description of what we did in our booth, it's kinda nice to have a photo of the folks who made the booth happen. From left to right, the PAPERS booth people are R. Hoare, R. Fisher, T. Mattox, S. Kim, and H. Dietz.

Incidentally, a lot of things are available on-line from the Supercomputing 1995 conference. The complete proceedings, abstracts for the exhibits, etc., are available from

The next public demonstration of PAPERS at a conference was August 1996 at the International Conference on Parallel Processing.

The Aggregate. The only thing set in stone is our name.