Major software and hardware upgrade

Hello everybody,

As some of you may have noticed the software running on majorana is quite old
(we are still using kernel 2.6!).  We took the decision to wait before an update for multiple
reasons such as hardware compatibility, filesystem upgradability, the fact that
SGE (the current scheduler) is no longer supported and many more.  One of the
objectives of this hardware upgrade is also to perform a complete update of the
operating system, the distributed filesystem and move the cluster towards a
different (and most importantly actively supported) job scheduler.  Before you
start panicking, we want to stress that, for the moment, nothing will change.
The move to the new system will be gradual and even when complete, the old
filesystem (and data) will be available in a read-only format.

The new system, for now called newmajorana, is based on Springdale linux 8
(http://springdale.math.ias.edu/) a distribution compatible with RHEL 8
developed for being used in an academic environment.  The new version of
lustre, the distributed filesystem,  is not compatible with the old version
currently in use in majorana so we had to build a completely new filesystem
that will start with the same capacity as the old one (so you will have the
same quotas).  Finally, we chose SLURM as job scheduler as it is one of the
most used job scheduler in HPC clusters (it is used in about 60% of the TOP500
supercomputers).

At the moment, mewmajorana is composed of 3 new servers and 12 new computing
nodes each one composed of two AMD EPYC Rome CPUs with 32 cores for a total of
768 cores.  The update is significant and adapting to the new software will
take time so newmajorana will be for now in a “open beta” stage where we will
try to solve software issues and tuning the configuration of the scheduler.
The best way to find problems is to run experiments so if you want to
participate in the testing, send us a request.  The beta means that you can
have compilation and execution issues, there can be missing software, the
scheduler configuration may change and computing nodes can be rebooted.  The
advantage of participating is two-fold. First you will have access to 768
super-fast cores and, second, when the switch to the new software will be
complete you will be sure that your experiments will work without issues.

Once your account has been activated, newmajorana can be accessed by typing
ssh newmajorana from the submit node.

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