Building a Cray Y-MP (Model) at Congress

When you spend 16 hours a day at Congress, there is some time to do things that one otherwise would not come around to do. For 35c3, I took a model kit of a Cray Y-MP with me to assemble that has space for a Raspberry Pi Zero in its center cabinet. A bit of time and half a gram of super glue later and I had the perfect combination of what once was the fastest and one of the most expensive computers in the world in the 1980s and one of the smallest and cheapest computers running Linux in 2018.

You might recall from my post about the CDC-6500 that the Living Computer Museum in Seattle still has a Seymour Cray machine running that can be accessed remotely. It started all of this. During a jet-lagged night I came across this Cray Y-MP kit when @stiefkind told me about it on Mastodon. I ordered one the very minute I saw it and if you look closely, it’s a Cray Y-MP on the title page of the ‘Supermen’ book I reviewed a few weeks ago.

Putting the parts together during Congress only required a few minutes and half a gram of super glue. Once done, I powered up the Raspberry Pi and, just to make the experience perfect, connected the model to the Congress Wifi network so I could access it remotely. Easy thing to do since the Congress network uses public IP addresses without any filtering or NATing. Being a bit exposed, it’s obviously better to use a certificate instead of a password for SSH and move the TCP port away from port 22 to reduce the number of bots banging against the door and the leaving traces of it in the authentication log file. And with the setup in place I did what one does with a supercomputer hooked up to the network at Congress: Have ‘Spaß am Gerät‘ as the Germans say, which would very loosely translate into ‘enjoy and have fun with the device’!