TIM CAMPBELL: ON HPC RESEARCH IN DOD

November 9, 2000

by Steven Witucki, assistant editor

Dallas, Texas — Advances in scalable multi-resolution algorithms coupled with access to HPC platforms are enabling Department of Defense (DoD) users to model problems that were previously unattainable. Logicon ISS provides the DoD with HPC expertise and is making substantial contributions to the advance of HPC research at the DoD.

Tim Campbell, Principal Analyst at Logicon, is giving a presentation at SC2000 focusing on the new 2 TeraFlop IBM SP at the Naval Oceanographic Office DoD Major Shared Resource Center. Mr. Campbell recently spoke with HPCwire regarding his presentation.

HPCwire: What kinds of advances in algorithms have been the most beneficial to DoD (Department of Defense) users?

CAMPBELL: I am most familiar with the area of computational materials science, where some of the most important advances in materials modeling involve the coupling of length scales. Successful modeling of nanostructured materials and processes such as crack propagation and fracture requires a multiscale simulation approach that can describe physical and mechanical processes over several decades of length scales. In this regard, ongoing multidisciplinary research efforts are being focused on combining continuum mechanics and atomistic simulations so that diverse length scales are coupled in a single simulation. One key ingredient to the success of these hybrid schemes is the development of scalable algorithms for atomistic modeling.

HPCwire: How is Logicon helping advance HPC research for the DoD?

CAMPBELL: Logicon is helping to advance HPC research in the DoD through its role as integrator for the Naval Oceanographic Office DoD Major Shared Resource Center (NAVO MSRC), the largest of the four MSRCs in the DoD High Performance Computing Modernization Program (HPCMP). NAVO MSRC is home to two of the largest systems in the DoD HPCMP: a 1084 processor Cray T3E-900 (number 13 on TOP500) and a 1336 processor IBM SP WinterHawk II (number 4 on TOP500). NAVO MSRC has a unique role of providing DoD scientists and engineers with HPC resources in addition to 24 hour/day, 7 day/week operational support for the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command.

Logicon provides expertise in systems engineering and integration, technology evaluation and transfer, scientific visualization, parallel programming, and user support and training. Integration of the new IBM SP during the summer of 2000 is a clear example of Logicon expertise in systems evaluation and integration. The wisdom of choosing an established technology (WinterHawk II) was proven by the fact that the NAVO IBM SP passed all acceptance tests only 1 1/2 months after it arrived at the MSRC door and was opened for allocations only 2 months after the acceptance.

Logicon visualization experts in the NAVO MSRC Visualization Center are actively working to provide DoD researchers with the necessary tools for immersive interactive visualization of large complex data sets. Several OpenGL-based applications have been developed that are both efficient and portable, allowing remote researchers access to full visualization capability at their own site.

Through the NAVO MSRC Programming Environment & Training (PET) program, Logicon is providing technical training and support to DoD users. Several successful projects that involve the optimization and parallelization of important DoD challenge project applications have been initiated through the NAVO MSRC PET program. In addition to the challenge project support, Logicon analysts work directly with DoD scientists and engineers in general to help them successfully move onto the HPC platforms. An extensive and successful online training sequence has been developed to support training in HPC for DoD users. The end result of this effort is an increase in the DoD HPC user base and the advance of DoD research through improved algorithms and methodologies.

HPCwire: Describe the applications that the Naval Oceanographic Office’s 2 Teraflop IBM SP is currently working on for the DoD.

CAMPBELL: In the DoD High Performance Computing Program, the DoD Challenge Projects constitute the department’s most important, high-priority, computationally intensive projects. Among the DoD MSRCs, NAVO MSRC supports the largest allocation of DoD Challenge Projects. This consists of almost 10 million compute hours shared across the NAVO MSRC resources, with the new 2 Teraflop IBM SP supporting the largest allocation. The DoD Challenge Projects supported on the NAVO MSRC IBM SP cover a broad range of computational technology areas. Some of the largest allocated projects include high resolution global coupled ocean/air/ice modeling, high resolution global ocean modeling and prediction, computational electromagnetic modeling of low observable vehicles, CFD simulations of missile dynamic flow fields, and multi-scale simulations of high temperature ceramic materials.

HPCwire: In your presentation at SC2000, you will present applications, which demonstrate “a new state of the art in materials modeling.” Please describe this “new state of the art.”

CAMPBELL: At SC2000 I will present benchmark results and recent large-scale simulation results of a suite of molecular-dynamics (MD) applications developed within the Concurrent Computing Laboratory for Materials Simulations (CCLMS) at Louisiana State University. These applications are the primary tools used in the DoD challenge project “Multi-scale Simulations of High Temperature Ceramic Materials” (principal investigators: Dr’s Rajiv Kalia, Aiichiro Nakano, & Priya Vashishta of CCLMS) on which I am a co-investigator.

A wide spectrum of physical reality is encompassed by the linear scaling MD applications: (i) classical MD based on a many-body interatomic potential model; (ii) environment-dependent, variable-charge MD; (iii) quantum mechanical MD based on the tight-binding method; and (iv) self-consistent quantum MD based on the density functional theory. The high scalability of these applications coupled with access to the massively parallel computing resources at NAVO MSRC have enabled very large-scale (over 1 billion atoms) MD simulations of complex materials.

HPCwire: Please discuss some of the successes in porting ocean modeling applications that you will present at SC2000.

CAMPBELL: At SC2000 I will present results of my initial experience porting a comprehensive finite element coastal circulation model known as QUODDY to parallel architectures. This model is an important research tool at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL). The goal of this work is to produce a scalable code that requires no changes to the user interface and configuration files, while at the same time educating the researchers in parallel programming techniques. We chose to port the model using the OpenMP multithreading directives. This provided a low intrusive and incremental method for producing a scalable code for shared memory architectures. At this point, the parallel regions of the code, which account for about 85% of the single processor compute time, show almost linear speedup. This translates into an overall speedup of better that 4 on 8 processors. The only issue that remains to be addressed is the serial regions of the code that have not been modified with OpenMP. The NRL researchers have already begun using the parallel version on NAVO MSRC resources, and are experiencing the benefit of much shorter turnaround times and the ability to increase model resolution and accuracy.

HPCwire: Does Logicon plan to continue to provide support to governmental entities? (U.S. Navy, etc.) If so, can you tell us about these plans?

CAMPBELL: Yes, Logicon plans to continue supporting existing HPC programs at the NAVO MSRC, where a Logicon-led modernization effort made the center the fourth most powerful supercomputer in the world. Logicon supports the PET program at NAVO MSRC, by providing computational science support in areas such as computational fluid dynamics; climate, weather and oceanography; signal and image processing; computational electromagnetics and acoustics; and environmental quality modeling. In addition, Logicon has developed web-based video-on-demand training in computational science to meet the needs of more than 2,500 DoD scientists and engineers across the country. Logicon also supports HPC work at the Fleet Numerical Meteorological and Oceanography Center in Monterey, Calif.

While Logicon has established itself as a full-service HPC systems integrator, it has proven capabilities in HPC training, research, visualization and other HPC-related activities. The company also expanded its capabilities through recent acquisitions such as its purchase of Sterling Software’s Federal Systems Group. Logicon, now with annual sales of nearly $2 billion, is actively pursuing new HPC-related contracts, including the Naval Research Lab, Washington, D.C.

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