A Brief History of the EML

The Econometrics Laboratory became operational in December 1991 and was formally opened on January 24, 1992. It is was originally a Unix facility dedicated to graduate student and faculty teaching and research in the Department of Economics, University of California at Berkeley. The EML emphasizes new developments in computationally intensive econometrics. During the Spring 1992 semester it was used for instruction in three graduate courses in economics with a total enrollment of over 100 students. In its first year of operation, the EML supported an average user base of approximately 75 graduate students and faculty members in addition to the graduate courses. By the end of the academic year 1994-95, the EML supported a user base of roughly 400 graduate students and faculty members, and had provided instructional support to eight graduate courses.

In its first phase of equipment acquisition, completed in the Spring of 1992, the EML was comprised of a Sun SPARCstation 2 fileserver with six gigabytes of disk storage, serving a SPARCstation 2 and four x-terminals in the faculty cluster, and ten SPARCstation IPXs in the student cluster. EML facilities also included an Exabyte tape drive, three DAT tape drives, two CD ROM drives, two laserprinters, and a port selector that served seven 14.4K modems.

In its second phase of equipment acquisition, completed in the Spring of 1995, the EML installed a Sun SPARCcenter 2000 fileserver with twenty-seven gigabytes of disk storage. Its faculty cluster was expanded to two SPARC 2, two SPARC 10, and two SPARC 20 compute servers, while its graduate student cluster was expanded to fifteen SPARCstation IPXs. The original SPARC 2 fileserver became the ELSA web server. Peripheral devices includes two additional CD ROMs, an additional laserprinter, a DAT autoloader, and an upgrade to the port selector to support PPP.

Additional disk packs continued to be added to the fileserver; the EML handle droughly 200GB in 1995 of disk storage; by 2000 we had two fully packed D1000 trays and roughly 400MB of disks; in 2001 we acquired an A3500 cabinet with 1 terabyte of storage.

In 1996 the EML acquired an UltraSPARC 3000 enterprise server. It is a dedicated compute server for programs requiring vector processing capabilities. The core of IPX workstations was upgraded and an additional network laserprinter was added. In 1997, Sun Microsystems generously donated 14 Ultra 1 workstations to replace our aging core of IPX workstations. The Lab subsequently upgraded its ethernet infrastructure to 100 mb/s. In 1998, the Lab installed a PRI line and upgraded its modem bank to 23 57.6K modems and added another network printer. The ELSA web server was upgraded to a SPARC 10 and new disk packs were installed that more than doubles its storage capacity.

In 2000, with a grant from Sun Microsystems, the Lab’s Ultra 1 workstations were upgraded to Ultra 5s and 10s. The web/ftp server was upgraded to an Ultra 1, and a new database server was installed. An additional 200GB of disk storage was acquired along with a new DLT tape autoloader.

In 2001, the EML embarked on an ambitious program. We upgraded the entire Economics Department from a shared 10 mb/s infrastructure to fully switched, 100 mb/s fast ethernet (previously, only the EML’s Suns had been upgraded to fast ethernet); expanded the “econ” domain to two subnets, and acquired a new Sun Fire 3800e fileserver. The EML also acquired an 8 kilovolt UPS for its servers.

In 2002, the EML received an equipment grant from the National Science Foundation, to fund acquisition of an LTO tape library and a 660 GB T3B fiber channel, RAID5-enabled disk tray for the new server. The EML now held more than 1 terabyte of disks, with the largest allocations going toward faculty research projects and graduate student dissertation research. Through a grant from Sun Microsystems, the EML also upgraded 16 Ultra 5s to Sun Blade 150s in 2002. Over the past few years, EML users have engaged in ever larger empirical research projects, and through grants from Sun, NSF, and other sources, the EML has kept pace with their computational needs.

From 2005 to the present, the EML continues to add powerful compute servers, upgrade file servers to increase disk storage, and improve backup hardware to accommodate the increasing demand for large data store on fast hardware. In 2009, the EML received matching funding from the department to replace the Unix workstations in the general public lab with Apple iMacs.

The Laboratory continues to pursue its mission of providing outstanding computational support in econometrics and statistics to its faculty and graduate students. Creation of the EML was motivated by Professor Daniel McFadden’s vision; its implementation was accomplished through the generous financial support of the National Science Foundation, the E. Morris Cox Endowment, the College of Letters and Science, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, and individual faculty associates.