The former vector computer systems SX-8R and SX-9 from NEC at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

The Institute of Scientific Computing (IWR) operated HPC vector systems since 1986 starting with IBM 3090VF-600 and Fujitsu VP50. In a very close connection to the computer centre of University Karlsruhe the first experiences started at a Cyber205 in 1992.

Two vector systems at Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe (VPP5000-8, SX-5/8) were substituted by a SX-8R vector system end of February 2007. The installation was then expanded by a second SX-8R system in May 2007. In December 2008 the installation was upgraded by a SX-9, NECs most recent vector system. The operation time of both systems ended in 2013.

We offered the users a front end solution for compilation and 32 processors for batch jobs. A factor of 3-4 (on SX-8R) compared to VPP 5000 or SX-5 (one processor) could be achieved.

The users at Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe were fully integrated in the environment of Active Directory.


Hardware environment

It was a three node installation, two nodes SX-8R and one node SX-9.


  • 8 vectorprocessors each achieving 36 GFlop/s peak
  • 256 GB shared memory
  • Local disk space for the system


  • 16 vectorprocessors each achieving 100 GFlop/s peak
  • 1 TB shared memory
  • Local disk space for the system

Common resources:

  • GFS shared filesystems: 66 TByte for \$WORK, 8 TByte for spezial applications, a very small \$HOME area is provided (quota 100 MByte)
  • The transfer rate to the \$WORK filesystem was limited to 600 MByte/s per node
Front end systems:
Both front end systems were for compilation applications for the vector systems and were equipped with (each):
  • 2 Intel IA32 CPUs
  • 8 GB Memory,
  • connection to the GFS filesystem

Network, filesystems, backup

Interactive access to the vector systems was only allowed by the two front end computers iwrsx8vor1 and iwrsx8vor2.
  • \$GLOBALHOME could only be accessed by the front-ends
  • \$WORK was a RAID-5 filesystem but no backup or archiving was possible
  • \$HOME was mirrored every night if backup or archiving capabilities were required, the data should be copied to the GPFS filesystem (backup and archiving via IBM/AIX). Access was provided via \$GLOBALWORK.

Operating system

  • Front ends: Linux, standard-login-shell: ksh (bash if desired)
  • Vector computers NEC SX-8R and SX-9: Super-UX, standard-login-shell: ksh