Winstat Upgraded to use 64-Bit Windows

The Winstat servers have been upgraded to use 64-bit Windows, and 64-bit versions of all the programs that have 64-bit versions available have been installed.

64-bit programs do not have limits on the amount of memory they can use like 32-bit programs do. Stata users will probably be the biggest beneficiaries: you can now use set mem to claim much more than the 700-800MB of memory you could previously. However, if a server runs out of RAM its performance will be degraded for everyone using it. We're thus announcing a new policy that users should not attempt to claim more than half of a server's RAM.

Moving Winstat to 64-bit removes one of the roadblocks that forced researchers doing serious number crunching to switch to Linux, but keep in mind that the SSCC's Linux servers are still better suited for that sort of work. Linstat has more memory, faster processors, and is happy to work on a job for days or weeks if necessary. It also gives you access to the SSCC's Condor flock, where you can run very long jobs or run multiple jobs at the same time. Winstat still shuts down disconnected sessions (and any programs they are running) after three hours, and disconnects idle sessions after 24 hours (sessions are considered idle if there is no interaction with the user, even if programs are running). Running programs on the Linux servers is probably easier than you think; Using Linstat will get you started.

While the 64-bit version of basic SAS works well, we've run into several problems with its various auxiliary engines and helper programs. Most of these will only affect a few people who use SAS in unusual ways (the inability of the 64-bit version of proc import to read files created by Excel 2007 is an exception). We've thus made 32-bit SAS available as well. If you run into problems that are solved by using 32-bit SAS, please still report them to the Help Desk. There may be things we can do to solve the problem in 64-bit SAS as well. (Stat/Transfer is another alternative for the proc import issue.)

New Linux Computing Cluster: Linstat

If you've tried to connect to Kite or Hal recently you probably noticed that you were redirected to Linstat instead. Linstat is the SSCC's new Linux computing cluster. Linstat also uses 64-bit Linux and software. See our initial announcement or Using Linstat for more information.

New Policy on Memory Usage

Now that both Winstat and Linstat use 64-bit operating systems, it's easy for a single user to claim all of a server's RAM. If a server runs out of RAM its performance and stability will be degraded for everyone. We're thus announcing a new policy: do not attempt to use more than half of a server's RAM.

On Linstat, this limit is enforced by the operating system. On Winstat, people who need large amounts of memory should right-click on My Computer, choose Properties, note how much RAM the particular Winstat server they're using has, and be sure not to claim more than half of it. For more details see the new Server Usage Policy.

Stata/MP Upgraded to Use Four CPUs

We recently upgraded our Stata/MP license from "2-core" to "4-core," meaning that many Stata commands will break up the work they need to do into four pieces and have four CPUs work on them simultaneously (if they're available). This will speed up many programs substantially.

Stata/MP licenses are much more expensive than Stata/SE licenses, and we do not have very many of them. Please use Stata/MP only when you have substantial do files to run, and use Stata/SE for interactive work, program editing, etc. But do not hesitate to use Stata/MP when it will help you.

Since each Stata/MP job will now use more CPUs than before, we'll need to enforce our "one job per server" policy more strictly to make sure everyone gets their fair share of CPU time. If you need to run more than one job at a time, submit them to Condor (where they'll still be run using 4-core Stata/MP).

New PCs in SSCC Labs

We are very pleased to announce that we have new PCs in the 3218 Sewell Social Sciences computer classroom and the 4218 drop in lab. The PCs in the 3218A Group Projects Room will be replaced later in the semester. The new PCs are quad core 2.8 Ghz CPUs with 8Gb RAM and are running the 64-bit version of Windows. Instructors interested in using the 3218 computer classroom should visit our Instructional Support page for more information. We are very grateful to the College of Letters and Science who awarded us the funds for these PCs through their Instructional Laboratory Modernization Grant program.