Departmental Computing Facilities

The department makes use of a mix of computing platforms, with about three-quarters of our research and instructional computing taking place on Microsoft’s Windows NT/2000 operating system and Intel Architecture processors and the remaining quarter on Unix desktop and back-end servers. We have benefited greatly over the last year from several major equipment donations: Hewlett-Packard donated 25 Visualize fx6+ 550MHz Pentium III graphics workstations for a new undergraduate graphics teaching laboratory; Intel donated 30 866MHz Pentium III systems for upper-level instruction; and Intel donated $300,000 for notebook computers, 802.11b wireless access cards, and access points for research and instruction in nomadic computing. We have also received a number of donations of Windows CE devices, software, training, and books from Microsoft Corporation.

In the area of improved and upgraded infrastructure, during the past year, we:

• Added pilot wireless networking infrastructure covering nine buildings and several quads across the Cornell University campus. This infrastructure utilizes Aironet 4800 access points and PCMCIA cards to provide actual TCP/IP-level throughput of 2-3Mbits/second. Cornell Information Technologies (CIT) will use this system as the base for a Cornell-wide wireless service to be available in Fall 2000.
• Implemented a major upgrade to the department’s Windows 2000/IIS-based web server. The server is now a redundant, load-sharing cluster of two servers, with content replicated from a third server inside the department firewall.
• Added several major back-end compute servers, including four 8-way 550MHz Pentium III Xeon Dell servers with 4GB RAM, four 4-way Sun Enterprise 420R servers with 4GB RAM, and a cluster of 26 dual-processor 600MHz Pentium III Linux servers.
• Implemented a Dell Storage Area Network to support fast, reliable access to large multimedia files. The new PowerEdge 6350 and PowerVault 650F systems support 700GB of fibre-channel disk storage.

The department has over 800 computers ranging from desktops to high-end parallel processing servers, over two terabytes of on-line disk storage, and a backbone network based on switched Gigabit Ethernet.

The department has a full-time computing facilities staff of fifteen. Dean Krafft serves as director, with programming support provided by Dora Abdullah, Elly Cramer, Dean Eckstrom, Doug Flanagan, Bill Holmes, Orlando Johnson, and Larry Parmelee; hardware support by John Finley and Bruce Boda; user consulting support by Rob Collins, Jennifer Holleran, and Bob O’Keefe; and systems administration by Mona Seamon and Cay Wilson. The staff provides full support for all the operating systems and standard software on our major computing platforms.

In addition to the resources directly owned and operated by the department, computer science students and researchers have access to a number of university facilities. The university provides extensive campus-wide networking, based on the TCP/IP protocols and implemented through a switched Gigabit Ethernet backbone connecting organizational Ethernets. National and international access is provided by several T3 connections to NYSERNet and the global Internet. High-speed community access is available through Time-Warner’s RoadRunner cable modem system.

The department operates an undergraduate teaching laboratory of 30 Intel-donated 300MHz Pentium II systems, 30 Intel-donated 450MHz Pentium III systems, and 30 Intel-donated 866MHz Pentium III systems, all running Microsoft’s Windows 2000. This lab provides support for a wide range of upper-level undergraduate courses and individual research projects. There is also a separate graphics teaching laboratory with 25 HP Visualize fx6+ workstations. Finally, through the Cornell Theory Center and the Program of Computer Graphics, computer science researchers have access to a wide range of advanced parallel processing and supercomputer systems as well as advanced graphics and visualization systems.