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Some Computational Details...

Posted by kqr on May 10, 2010 - 2:07pm

While it is undisputed that telescopes are the sexy instruments in astronomy, more and more the bulk of the work is going on with computers. The telescopes may gather the light - and they do that well - but once the light is gathered, its the computers that tend to take over.


The AAVSO has some pretty nice computational facilities. We've upgraded some machines and are also in the middle of a process of streamlining them to slightly reduce their number. These days, from a server perspective, the AAVSO operates on, and does research with, two main systems. Some of this is still in the process of happening.

The main system is Mira. When fully implemented in her new configuration, Mira will run several services. The most important are the Web Server and the Database Server. But Mira also holds the home directories for the staff, processes our email, makes sure the rest of the Internet can find us (DNS), operates the popular chat room, the discussions lists, and the FTP site. She runs 2 Quad-core 3.33GHz processors, which, with hyperthreading, amounts to 16 virtual processors! She also has 16GB of RAM.

The other system is Occam, who is our computational system. With all the processing being done with the AAVSOnet and upcoming projects, a system dedicated to hardcore processing to compliment the other more general system was needed. The new Occam was designed and built to hold its value for a number of years. Occam runs two hexa-core 3.2GHz AMD processors giving him 12 virtual CPUs. He also sports 24GB of RAM.

We have other systems here at HQ of course, but these are our workhorses - what I like to think as "the power behind the scopes."

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AAVSO 49 Bay State Rd. Cambridge, MA 02138 aavso@aavso.org 617-354-0484