Thursday, June 26, 2008

A supercomputer reborn

After my last entry, I have spent a bit of time poking at Linux kernel versions, and found what I had created last time I tried to do a Debian install on one of the SP high nodes: a custom compiled version of the 2.6.8 kernel, with the Debian Sarge installer thrown in as an initrd. To my amazement, it actually booted, and I had a system running a somewhat useful version of Linux again, instead of AIX.

Now, my next goal is to get this system to run the latest kernel release, and up-to-date software. I managed to locate my set of 32GB of ram for the system (arranged as 128, 256MB modules!), plug that in, and end up with a system that has more memory than disk space, and has more memory used when it boots (from things like page tables) than there is on the disk. Right now, I seem to be having trouble booting any kernels past 2.6.8 on the system, ending up with the kernel causing bad page faults while it tries to set up the MPIC on the system (that's the interrupt controller for PowerPC systems).

After I get both of those in place, I am hoping to take a spare fiber channel card, the SCSI/FC target driver in the current Linux kernel, and turn the system into a 32GB or so solid-state disk. I'm thinking that this would be a good concept to test, as it's way cheaper than getting a modern sold-state disk from Texas Memory Systems. In fact, you can pick up a new commodity x86 system with 128 or 256GB of ram and a fiber channel card or two for significantly less than a commercial solid state disk solution.

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