Monday, August 08, 2011

#ALGORITHMS: "XSEDE Cyber-Science to Exceed Teragrid"

The Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) exceeds its predecessor--the Teragrid project--by linking the most advanced U.S. supercomputers into a cyber-infrastructure provisioned with simplified user-access software enabling researchers to address more diverse projects extraordinaire.

The National Science Foundation has kicked off a successor to its popular Teragrid project, that links together 17 of the nation's fastest supercomputer and software development centers with infrastructure support to realize the world's most advanced applications in materials science, medicine, genomics, astronomy, biology and specialty fields like earthquake engineering.

The new Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) “will expand on the range of services offered by TeraGrid," said John Towns of the University of Illinois's National Center for Supercomputing Applications. Towns, who had a variety of roles in the TeraGrid project, will lead the XSEDE project. "XSEDE will establish a distributed environment that increases the productivity of researchers with collaborative tools and direct access to instrument data in addition to high-performance computing resources."

The result will be a cyber infrastructure that encompasses resources from XSEDE and other providers, creating a living ecosystem of services that researchers and educators can use to develop capabilities that go beyond the raw supercomputer power provided by the previous TeraGrid program.

XSEDE will create immersive 3D simulations like this one of a blowout similar to that which destroyed the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico where "ribbons" of color indicate flows. (Source: LSU Center for Computation and Technology)
"XSEDE will put processes in place that evolve the environment over time as new technologies emerge and as new requirements are understood from the user community," said Towns.

The NSF Office of Cyberinfrastructure will coordinate the addition of new disciplinary areas to engage more research areas that were included under the TeraGrid umbrella. The NSF has already allocated $121 million to kick-off XSEDE which will be led by the University of Illinois's National Center for Supercomputing Applications and will link 16 supercomputer sites nationwide at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Carnegie Mellon University/University of Pittsburgh, University of Texas at Austin, University of Tennessee, University of Virginia, Southeastern Universities Research Association, University of Chicago, University of California San Diego, Indiana University, Jülich Supercomputing Centre, Purdue University, Cornell University, Ohio State University, University of California Berkeley, Rice University, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

The Shodor Education Foundation will also participate, helping to develop new software tools that propel scientific discovery. A simplified User Access Layer--managing authentication and job monitoring--will be developed to enable applications to be run on its resources without the detailed knowledge that was typically necessary to make optimal use of previous TeraGrid resources.

More than 10,000 scientists used the TeraGrid supercomputer resources over its 10-year lifetime--2001 to 2011--all at no cost. XSEDE will likewise provide integrated supercomputer, networking, and software infrastructure resources to needy scientists and engineers nationwide, but will broaden its application base to include new kinds of community-based projects.

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