Morrisville, N.C. — Computational Engineering International (CEI) has won a three-year, $1.4-million contract to research the use of a Beowulf computer cluster to visualize large-scale models for the Department of Energy’s Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative (ASCI).
The new contract follows an earlier $1.8-million ASCI contract for advanced visualization on SMP (shared memory parallel) systems. Both projects center around CEI’s EnSight Gold, a high-performance, multi-platform visualization and data analysis tool already used in the three primary ASCI labs: Los Alamos, Sandia and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories.
The Beowulf computer cluster is named after the sixth-century hero who freed the Danes of Heorot by destroying the oppressive monster Grendel. In the updated version, CEI will modify its EnSight Gold software to enable parallel processing on a cluster of low-cost PCs connected by high-speed communications hardware. The goal is to free ASCI scientists from some of the oppression of supercomputing, including high hardware costs and lack of processing flexibility. CEI will use Red Hat Linux software as the open-source operating system, and an MPI processing library to allow the systems to communicate in parallel.
“This project will help advance state-of-the-art, large-scale visualization,” says Kent Misegades, CEI president. “In particular, it enables us to adapt our technology to advanced parallel computing architectures, which we believe will be the systems of choice in the future for scientists and engineers.”
ASCI was formed to develop the high-resolution, 3D physics modeling needed to evaluate the aging nuclear stockpile and accurately predict how time will affect different components. Two fundamental areas of research will be conducted under the new contract:
– Extending the scalability of EnSight Gold to efficiently extract results from tera-scale datasets and render the resulting complex scenes.
– Increasing EnSight Gold functionality to meet the evolving requirements of ASCI scientists, including display of results in virtual reality environments.
The contract does not involve intellectual property rights, allowing CEI’s work to be incorporated into future products for more mainstream applications in automotive, aerospace, chemical, general engineering, scientific research and other areas.
CEI has corporate headquarters in Morrisville, N.C., and authorized distributors around the world. In addition to its EnSight, EnSight Gold, EnLiten and EnVideo products, CEI provides consulting services to engineers and scientists from organizations that need to visualize computational results for research, product design or product refinement.