Turn on the Switch

TACC donates first-of-its-kind Magnum switch to Computer History Museum


The Computer History Museum, home to the largest collection of computers and related materials in the world, recently accepted a piece of TACC's history into their permanent collection — sealing its place as a milestone in computing.

"We're always searching around the world for new, interesting, and important computing objects," said Dag Spicer, senior curator at the museum, "and TACC's Sun Microsystems 2007 Magnum switch was a critical part of high performance computing at that time in history. The TACC switch was the largest of its class and is an example of InfiniBand technology, of which we had few examples."

The switch was part of TACC's Ranger supercomputer and connected tens of thousands of Ranger's processors together into a blazingly fast high-speed network. Ranger debuted as the fifth most powerful computer in the world on the June 2008 Top 500 list, and for a time was the most powerful supercomputer for open science research — up to 50,000 times more powerful than a PC at that point in history.

Said Gordon Bell, a pioneer in high performance computing and co-founder of the museum, "Behind nearly every artifact, exhibit, and pioneering effort is a story that the museum is dedicated to understand and tell."