Cray Machine Families up to year 2000

This page looks at the Cray family tree of supercomputers with links to the major groups of systems.

 

Click on the Icons below for more information about the chosen range of machines.

 

Cray-1  Cray-1 Icon
The Cray-1 series of computers were manufactured from 1976 till 1983. There were three major variants, Cray-1A, Cray-1S and Cray-1M. About 60 of these machines were delivered to customer locations all over the world. At the time, they were the undisputed highest performing computers for scientific workloads. The Cray-1A system had the peripherals attached to the mainframe. The Cray-1S introduced the Input-Output Subsystem to handle the external processing of data. Their reliability and performance established the Cray Research brand.
Cray-2   
The Cray-2 series of computers were manufactured from 1985 till 1990. There were two major variants, the S had static memory, and the D, dynamic memory. A small number of specials were built such as a 8 processor version. At the time, the Cray-2 had the largest static memory of any computer in the world. This made it well suited to scientific compute loads as well has very responsive to large interactive workloads. It also introduced the Unix operating system to many customers. About 30 of these machines were delivered to customer locations all over the world.
Cray-3   The Cray-3, last in an impressive line of computers designed by Seymour Cray. Similar to the Cray-2 in size and cooling arrangements but the modules shrunk and the chip technology changed from silicon to gallium arsenide. Only one system was delivered to customer site, NCAR, for a customer tryout but did not result in a sale.
Cray XMP
The Cray-XMP series of computers were manufactured from 1983 till 1988 as an evolution of the Cray-1 design. There were 3 variants and all were available with 1, 2 or 4 processors. The variants introduced new memory technology as it became available over the life of the product. The computers were the first large computers to provide multiple processors, and they could be programmed to support multiple processors executing simultaneously on shared memory. The computers were compatible with the Cray-1 range, and so customers could migrate their workloads to the Cray-XMP quickly and easily. Like the Cray-1, the computers were reliable and provided excellent performance. This extended the reputation of Cray Research as a manufacturer of high performance quality products.
Cray YMP Model D
The Cray-YMP range of computers were manufactured from 1989 until 1994. Around 200 of these machines were manufactured, and many customers migrated their workload from the Cray-XMP to a Cray-YMP. Like the Cray-XMP, the Cray-YMP were available with multiple processor configurations of 2, 4, 8 processors.  The key YMP technology was large modules with interior liquid cooling. The early machines used the same Model-D Input-Output subsystem as the XMP range and can be seen as the wings on each side of the main processor cabinet. The Cray-YMP used Unicos, a UNIX operating system.
Cray YMP Model E

The Cray-YMP range of computers were manufactured from 1989 until 1994. Around 200 of these machines were manufactured, and many customers migrated their workload from the Cray-XMP to a Cray-YMP. The Cray-YMP were available with multiple configurations of 2, 4, 8 processors and SSD units. The key YMP technology was large modules with interior liquid cooling. Later YMP systems used a Model-E Input-Output subsystems built using YMP style modules and were available with larger memory configurations and a choice of air or liquid secondary cooling.
SPARC systems and CS6400   The Superserver range of systems was developed in Beaverton CO. after Cray Research purchased the assets of Floating point systems. Aimed directly at the commercial market these system used SPARC processors and a modified version of Solaris.
Cray XMS   The first of the air cooled supermini Cray computers developed by Supertec and acquired by Cray Research. The XMS was a clone of the X-MP architecture implemented in CMOS technology.
Cray EL  
The Cray-YMP EL range of computers were manufactured from 1992 until 1996. The range included the smallest and cheapest system ever delivered to customers. The EL was a clone of the YMP architecture implemented in CMOS technology.
Cray C90  
The Cray C90 range of computers were manufactured from 1992 until 1996. Around 60 of these machines were manufactured, and many customers migrated their workload from the Cray-XMP to a Cray-YMP and on to a C90. Like the Cray-YMP, the Cray-C90 was available with multiple processor configurations of 4, 8 up to 16 processors. Attached SSD and extra IOS were available as options. Over the life of the Cray C90 new storage systems were added as well as large memory configurations known and M90s. C90 CPUs delivered 1/G Flop each.
Cray T3D  
The Cray-T3D range of computers were manufactured from 1992 until 1996. The Cray-T3D marked a big change in Cray supercomputers. This was the beginning of using large numbers of commodity processors and a distributed memory. The T3D was a transition product, being a processors only machine, an attached or integrated Cray-YMP or C90 was required. Around 40 of these machines were manufactured. Unlike previous transition customers migrating their workload from the Cray C90 to a Cray-T3D would need to account for the very different architecture of the machine. The Cray-T3D was available with multiple processor configurations of 64, 128, and 256 processors. The processors were repackaged 150 MHz DEC alpha chips. Unicos/MK was introduced with this system.
Cray T3E
The Cray-T3E range of computers were manufactured from 1996 until 2002. The T3E continued the use of large numbers of commodity processors and distributed memory. Evolving from the T3D the T3E was a stand-alone computer which ran both parallel and single node applications concurrently. Around 100 of these machines were manufactured, and many customers migrated their workload from the Cray-T3D to Cray-T3E. The Cray-T3E was available with multiple processor configurations from 64 to 1024 processors. Over the life of the Cray-T3E the processors were available as 450, 600, 900 and 1200 MHz DEC alpha processors. Smaller systems were air-cooled, and larger systems used an external liquid heat exchanger.
Cray J90  
The Cray-J90 range of computers were manufactured from 1994 until 1998. This air cooled system replaced the EL range providing more and faster processors with bigger memories. Using the traditional single system image and global memories. The first system had up to 16 CPUs with later version including a new I/O subsystem and up to 32 CPUs. Extra cabinets could be added for expanded storage.
Cray T90    
The Cray-T90 was the last of the pure PVP single memory systems built by Cray Research. Around 20 of these systems were built from 1996 until 2000. The T90 reintroduced the idea of total immersion cooling last seen in the Cray-2 & Cray-3.
The Gigaring IOS as used on the later T3Es and J90s was integrated. Under the covers a large tank(s) held the density packed boards using non-wire clip-on edge connectors. Available with 4 up to 32 processors and memories up to 8 GBytes. CPU versions that directly supported IEEE floating point maths were available. A scalar cache and paged memory were also used. T94 versions could use secondary to air heat exchangers. Giga Ring I/O technology was used.
Cray SV1  
The Cray-SV1 range of computers were manufactured from 1998 until 2004. This system was a direct development of the J90 range using up to 32 CPUs per system cabinet but providing clustering tools to allow multiple systems to work closely together. Available with either air and water secondary cooling the SV1 provided a continuation of the pure vector processing capability.

 

Acknowledgements

The artwork on this page was created in partnership with CoMA by David Laufer and Reinhard Moses.
Images lifted from around the net including Jim Austin computer museum, CHM, wikipedia and others.

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