Current news...


2017: Early spring update

Quick summary: is Maths research IT awaking from hibernation?

Although the past few months have been rather gloomy with nothing worth reporting, there are signs that the brighter days and the coming spring will see some activity in Maths at last. Already, a few users are interested in purchasing more compute servers and quotations have been obtained.

Work currently in progress includes the reorganisation of the non-rackmount hosted systems shelving area to make better use of the available space. Obsolete and other redundant systems no longer being used have been removed and additional shelves added to accommodate more modern smaller systems.

Remote systems monitoring has been improved with the introduction of a new monitoring server in Huxley 616, which now has direct access to all systems on private/dedicated internal networks in the Maths server room. The sysmon2 software has been further enhanced to provide better hard disk condition analysis and reporting across all systems, support for MapR Hadoop cluster monitoring and additional tests for systems using ZFS storage. The existing monitoring server in the ICT data centre is an old 32-bit desktop PC and cannot move to the new hosting facility in Slough in the summer since only rackmount systems can be accommodated; for continued resilience it will be replaced with a rackmount system in Slough but the server in the Maths server room will become the primary system since it has access to all the networks in use.

Much work was done in February for the LMS (London Mathematical Society) whose web services we host and support, with production sites moving to a new server and development and staging sites moving to virtual servers hosted on another new server.

nvidia3 has been upgraded and updated to meet a particular user's needs and is now available for general use. Fitted with a single nVidia K40 GPU card, this is the highest performing single GPU we currently have.

Important information

Finally, we have started planning ahead for the eventual shutdown of the ICT data centre in the City & Guilds building over the next 18-24 months and its migration to a new facility in Slough. We have over 30 servers hosted in ICT - 24 of these are Maths compute cluster nodes which will probably move to Huxley 616 later this year along with a non-rackmount storage server while the rest will move to Slough, with hardware upgrades where necessary to support full remote management (including the ability to install an operating system remotely from media in South Kensington).

Some private rackmount systems currently in Huxley 616 may have to move to Slough although this is not certain - if it's not possible to install an operating system remotely or if the owner is unwilling to pay for upgrades to allow this to be done, or replace the server with one that has full remote media support, then that server will have to stay in the Maths server room. The main issue with accommodating more systems in the Maths server room now is it is not possible to add any more college network connections on Huxley level 6 since the rack in the network wiring cupboard opposite the south lifts is now full. So an influx of 25 systems into Huxley 616 will potentially be a problem.

For this reason we will have to move nearly all Maths compute cluster nodes onto a private dedicated network which means direct access to a particular node from the college network will no longer be possible although it would still be accessible from a designated head node. This is the norm on HPC clusters and should not inconvenience Maths users that much and it does have the real advantage of faster cluster performance since cluster network traffic will not be mixed with data on the general college network.

Older news items:

March 10th, 2017: Winter update 2
February 22nd, 2017: Winter update
November 2nd, 2016: Autumn update
October 21st, 2016: Late summer update 2
October 14th, 2016: Late summer update
February 19th, 2016: Winter update
December 11th, 2015: Autumn update
September 14th, 2015: Late summer update 2
May 2nd, 2015: Spring update 2
April 26th, 2015: Spring update
November 11th, 2014: Autumn update
September 17th, 2014: Summer update 2
July 17th, 2014: Summer update
March 15th, 2014: Spring update
November 2nd, 2013: Summer update
May 24th, 2013: Spring update
January 23rd, 2013: Happy New Year!
November 22nd, 2012: No news is good news...
November 17th, 2011: A revamp for the Maths SSH gateways
September 7th, 2011: Failed systems under repair
August 14th, 2011: Introducing calculus, a new NFS home directory server for research users
July 19th, 2011: a new staging server for the compute cluster
July 19th, 2011: A new Matlab queue and improved queue documentation
June 30th, 2011: Updated laptop backup scripts
June 18th, 2011: More storage for the silo...
June 16th, 2011: Yet more storage for the SCAN...
June 10th, 2011: 3 new nodes added to the Maths compute cluster
May 21st, 2011: Announcing SCAN large storage and subversion (SVN) servers
May 26th, 2011: Reporting missing scratch disk on macomp01
May 21st, 2011: Announcing completion of silo upgrades
May 16th, 2011: Announcing upgrades for silo
April 14th, 2011: Goodbye SCAN 3, hello SCAN 4
March 26th, 2011: quickstart guide to using the Torque/Maui cluster job queueing system
March 9th, 2011: automatic laptop backup/sync service, new collaboration systems launched
May 20th, 2010: Scratch disks are now available on all macomp and mablad compute cluster systems
March 11th, 2010: Introduing job queueing on the Fünf Gruppe compute cluster
October 16th, 2008: Introduing the Fünf Gruppe compute cluster
June 18th, 2008: German City compute farm now expanded to 22 machines
February 7th, 2008: new applications on the Linux apps server, unclutter your desktop
November 13th, 2007: aragon and cathedral now general access computers, networked Linux Matlab installation upgraded to R2007a
September 14th, 2007: Problems with sending outgoing mail for UNIX & Linux users
July 23rd, 2007: SCAN available full-time over the summer vacation, closure of Imperial's Usenet news server
May 15th, 2007: Temporary SCAN suspension, closure of the Maths Physics computer room, new research computing facilities
January 14th, 2005: Exchange mail server upgrade, spam filtering with pine and various other enhancements


Andy Thomas

Research Computing Manager,
Department of Mathematics

last updated: 22.3.2017