XSEDE Panel Highlights Diversity of NSF Computing Resources

By Trish Barker, Assistant Director for Public Affairs at NCSA

July 31, 2015

A plenary panel at the XSEDE15 conference, which took place this week in St. Louis, Mo., highlighted the broad spectrum of computing resources provided by the National Science Foundation, including several new and testbed projects and an effort to help more people use cyberinfrastructure to advance their research.

“I don’t think there has been a time previously when NSF funded the diversity of systems that are available today,” said panelist Craig Stewart, the associate dean of research technologies at Indiana University.

Irene Qualters, leader of the Division of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure within NSF’s Computer & Information Science & Engineering Directorate, kicked off the panel with an overview of how “the conduct and the practice of research are changing,” and how this is driving changes in cyberinfrastructure. In particular, she called out the rapid growth in data from diverse sources, including instruments and sensors and simulation; the increasing complexity of research problems, requiring multidisciplinary teams and multiscale modeling; wider global investment in research, providing more opportunities for collaboration; growing need for technically skilled workforce; and the need for increased societal responsibility and engagement.

NSF has responded to these and other drivers by fielding a diverse array of resources, each of which was spotlighted by one of the panelists:

  • Comet, a computing resource focused on the small and medium jobs that represent the “long-tail of science,” at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC). Comet entered production in May 2015.
  • Jetstream, a cloud system with hardware at Indiana University and TACC that is slated to go into production early in 2016.
  • Wrangler, a data-intensive system that includes hardware at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) and Indiana University
  • Bridges, a data-centric system slated to go into production early in 2016 at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC).
  • Chameleon and CloudLab, testbeds for research on cloud computing.

“I think all of the systems we’re talking about this morning did some interesting and deep analysis of usage patterns” to determine what researchers needed, said Stewart.

For example, SDSC Director Mike Norman said that data from 2012 showed that 99 percent of jobs run on XSEDE-allocated resources used fewer than 2,000 cores and 30 percent used just a single core. Based on that information, SDSC decided to focus Comet on those small to medium jobs, and even to under-allocate the resource so people can get quicker access. They aim to serve 10,000 users per year on Comet, a metric Norman thinks will be easily achieved, in part through embracing Science Gateways.

Jetstream is also aimed at aspects of the long-tail of science, Stewart explained. This cloud system is designed to provide interactive and on-demand computing capabilities via a suite of virtual machines. Users can customize, save, and share VMs—something that Stewart pointed out will make it easier to repeat and reproduce research. And like Comet, Jetstream embraces Science Gateways, working with the iPlant and Galaxy gateways.

A biologist by training, Stewart said that he recently tested the Jetstream interface to see if he could easily “do a little science.”

“It took me about 10 minutes to log in and do something on iPlant and about two hours to do the same thing using Amazon, so the interface really works,” he said.

Both Wrangler and Bridges focus on data needs. Niall Gaffney, director of Data Intensive Computing at TACC, pointed out that traditional high-performance computing systems and ways of working are often mismatched with the needs of data-intensive research. “Databases are not job,” he said. “Scratch is not a storage solution. Hadoop is not always HPC file system-friendly.”

Wrangler is intended to handle big data, lots of small data, structured and unstructured data, and both sequential and random I/O. It also needs to support a large number of applications and interfaces, including Hadoop, Spark, R, GIS, and others.

According to Gaffney, the highly flexible 600 TB flash storage system with bandwidth of 1 TB/sec is one of the most innovative features of Wrangler. “You can connect all 600 TB to one node if that’s what you need,” he said.

As an example of how Wrangler is enabling new data-centric activities, Gaffney said that OrthoMCL, a genomic workflow, would previously not complete on any TACC resource, but now runs in under four hours on Wrangler.

Construction of the data-centric Bridges system will begin in October, according to Nick Nystrom, director of Strategic Applications at PSC. Echoing other panelists, Nystrom agreed that Science Gateways are critical, particularly for communities that are not currently using HPC resources. “Many users don’t want to become programmers,” he said. “Gateways let them avoid a lot of complexity that people associate with traditional supercomputing.”

Bridges will include a pilot project with Temple University, focused on streamlining interoperation and helping people easily move from using campus resources to using nationally available resources such as those provided through XSEDE. “When Temple’s resources are at peak, some jobs can be migrated transparently to Bridges. And conversely, when Bridges is saturated, we can move jobs to Temple,” Nystrom explained.

In addition to these four compute systems available through XSEDE, the panel also highlighted two cloud computing testbeds, Chameleon and CloudLab, which give researchers the opportunity to build and test their own clouds. “There’s still a lot of work to be done in making clouds better and imagining what clouds will look like in the future,” said CloudLab’s Robert Ricci, a research assistant professor at the University of Utah.

The final panelist, Clemson University Jim Bottum, emphasized the need to provide training and assistance so more people from more disciplines can take advantage of all of these diverse computing resources.

“There is a training and education gap between resources and researchers,” he said. “There’s a high barrier to entry without human assistance, and the barriers become higher as we bring in new communities.”

Bottum leads the NSF-supported ACI-REF project, which has begun addressing this gap by enlisting facilitators who can act as “research concierges” for people who are looking for computing resources (or who may not even know what resources are available or how they could impact their research) and by offering training.  The goal is to grow the user base, both in terms of the number of people and the number of disciplines using cyberinfrastructure.

After just its first year, ACI-REF’s “concierges” have had 800+ consultations with individual researchers and more than 1,000 people have attended training sessions led by ACI-REF.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

DoE Awards 24 ASCR Leadership Computing Challenge (ALCC) Projects

June 28, 2017

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) ASCR Leadership Computing Challenge (ALCC) program awarded 24 projects a total of 2.1 billion core-hours at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF). The o Read more…

By HPCwire Staff

STEM-Trekker Badisa Mosesane Attends CERN Summer Student Program

June 27, 2017

Badisa Mosesane, an undergraduate scholar who studies computer science at the University of Botswana in Gaborone, recently joined other students from developing nations around the world in Geneva, Switzerland to particip Read more…

By Elizabeth Leake, STEM-Trek

The EU Human Brain Project Reboots but Supercomputing Still Needed

June 26, 2017

The often contentious, EU-funded Human Brain Project whose initial aim was fixed firmly on full-brain simulation is now in the midst of a reboot targeting a more modest goal – development of informatics tools and data/ Read more…

By John Russell

DOE Launches Chicago Quantum Exchange

June 26, 2017

While many of us were preoccupied with ISC 2017 last week, the launch of the Chicago Quantum Exchange went largely unnoticed. So what is such a thing? It is a Department of Energy sponsored collaboration between the Univ Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Creating a Roadmap for HPC Innovation at ISC 2017

In an era where technological advancements are driving innovation to every sector, and powering major economic and scientific breakthroughs, high performance computing (HPC) is crucial to tackle the challenges of today and tomorrow. Read more…

UMass Dartmouth Reports on HPC Day 2017 Activities

June 26, 2017

UMass Dartmouth's Center for Scientific Computing & Visualization Research (CSCVR) organized and hosted the third annual "HPC Day 2017" on May 25th. This annual event showcases on-going scientific research in Massach Read more…

By Gaurav Khanna

How ‘Knights Mill’ Gets Its Deep Learning Flops

June 22, 2017

Intel, the subject of much speculation regarding the delayed, rewritten or potentially canceled “Aurora” contract (the Argonne Lab part of the CORAL “pre-exascale” award), parsed out additional information ab Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Tsinghua Crowned Eight-Time Student Cluster Champions at ISC

June 22, 2017

Always a hard-fought competition, the Student Cluster Competition awards were announced Wednesday, June 21, at the ISC High Performance Conference 2017. Amid whoops and hollers from the crowd, Thomas Sterling presented t Read more…

By Kim McMahon

GPUs, Power9, Figure Prominently in IBM’s Bet on Weather Forecasting

June 22, 2017

IBM jumped into the weather forecasting business roughly a year and a half ago by purchasing The Weather Company. This week at ISC 2017, Big Blue rolled out plans to push deeper into climate science and develop more gran Read more…

By John Russell

DoE Awards 24 ASCR Leadership Computing Challenge (ALCC) Projects

June 28, 2017

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) ASCR Leadership Computing Challenge (ALCC) program awarded 24 projects a total of 2.1 billion core-hour Read more…

By HPCwire Staff

DOE Launches Chicago Quantum Exchange

June 26, 2017

While many of us were preoccupied with ISC 2017 last week, the launch of the Chicago Quantum Exchange went largely unnoticed. So what is such a thing? It is a D Read more…

By John Russell

How ‘Knights Mill’ Gets Its Deep Learning Flops

June 22, 2017

Intel, the subject of much speculation regarding the delayed, rewritten or potentially canceled “Aurora” contract (the Argonne Lab part of the CORAL “ Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Tsinghua Crowned Eight-Time Student Cluster Champions at ISC

June 22, 2017

Always a hard-fought competition, the Student Cluster Competition awards were announced Wednesday, June 21, at the ISC High Performance Conference 2017. Amid wh Read more…

By Kim McMahon

GPUs, Power9, Figure Prominently in IBM’s Bet on Weather Forecasting

June 22, 2017

IBM jumped into the weather forecasting business roughly a year and a half ago by purchasing The Weather Company. This week at ISC 2017, Big Blue rolled out pla Read more…

By John Russell

Intersect 360 at ISC: HPC Industry at $44B by 2021

June 22, 2017

The care, feeding and sustained growth of the HPC industry increasingly is in the hands of the commercial market sector – in particular, it’s the hyperscale Read more…

By Doug Black

At ISC – Goh on Go: Humans Can’t Scale, the Data-Centric Learning Machine Can

June 22, 2017

I've seen the future this week at ISC, it’s on display in prototype or Powerpoint form, and it’s going to dumbfound you. The future is an AI neural network Read more…

By Doug Black

Cray Brings AI and HPC Together on Flagship Supers

June 20, 2017

Cray took one more step toward the convergence of big data and high performance computing (HPC) today when it announced that it’s adding a full suite of big d Read more…

By Alex Woodie

Quantum Bits: D-Wave and VW; Google Quantum Lab; IBM Expands Access

March 21, 2017

For a technology that’s usually characterized as far off and in a distant galaxy, quantum computing has been steadily picking up steam. Just how close real-wo Read more…

By John Russell

Trump Budget Targets NIH, DOE, and EPA; No Mention of NSF

March 16, 2017

President Trump’s proposed U.S. fiscal 2018 budget issued today sharply cuts science spending while bolstering military spending as he promised during the cam Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Compiler Company PathScale Seeks Life Raft

March 23, 2017

HPCwire has learned that HPC compiler company PathScale has fallen on difficult times and is asking the community for help or actively seeking a buyer for its a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Pulls Back the Covers on Its First Machine Learning Chip

April 6, 2017

This week Google released a report detailing the design and performance characteristics of the Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), its custom ASIC for the inference Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

CPU-based Visualization Positions for Exascale Supercomputing

March 16, 2017

In this contributed perspective piece, Intel’s Jim Jeffers makes the case that CPU-based visualization is now widely adopted and as such is no longer a contrarian view, but is rather an exascale requirement. Read more…

By Jim Jeffers, Principal Engineer and Engineering Leader, Intel

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Nvidia highlights strengths of its newest GPU silicon in response to Google's report on the performance and energy advantages of its custom tensor processor. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia’s Mammoth Volta GPU Aims High for AI, HPC

May 10, 2017

At Nvidia's GPU Technology Conference (GTC17) in San Jose, Calif., this morning, CEO Jensen Huang announced the company's much-anticipated Volta architecture a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Facebook Open Sources Caffe2; Nvidia, Intel Rush to Optimize

April 18, 2017

From its F8 developer conference in San Jose, Calif., today, Facebook announced Caffe2, a new open-source, cross-platform framework for deep learning. Caffe2 is the successor to Caffe, the deep learning framework developed by Berkeley AI Research and community contributors. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

MIT Mathematician Spins Up 220,000-Core Google Compute Cluster

April 21, 2017

On Thursday, Google announced that MIT math professor and computational number theorist Andrew V. Sutherland had set a record for the largest Google Compute Engine (GCE) job. Sutherland ran the massive mathematics workload on 220,000 GCE cores using preemptible virtual machine instances. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Debuts TPU v2 and will Add to Google Cloud

May 25, 2017

Not long after stirring attention in the deep learning/AI community by revealing the details of its Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), Google last week announced the Read more…

By John Russell

Russian Researchers Claim First Quantum-Safe Blockchain

May 25, 2017

The Russian Quantum Center today announced it has overcome the threat of quantum cryptography by creating the first quantum-safe blockchain, securing cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, along with classified government communications and other sensitive digital transfers. Read more…

By Doug Black

US Supercomputing Leaders Tackle the China Question

March 15, 2017

Joint DOE-NSA report responds to the increased global pressures impacting the competitiveness of U.S. supercomputing. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Groq This: New AI Chips to Give GPUs a Run for Deep Learning Money

April 24, 2017

CPUs and GPUs, move over. Thanks to recent revelations surrounding Google’s new Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), the computing world appears to be on the cusp of Read more…

By Alex Woodie

DOE Supercomputer Achieves Record 45-Qubit Quantum Simulation

April 13, 2017

In order to simulate larger and larger quantum systems and usher in an age of “quantum supremacy,” researchers are stretching the limits of today’s most advanced supercomputers. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Six Exascale PathForward Vendors Selected; DoE Providing $258M

June 15, 2017

The much-anticipated PathForward awards for hardware R&D in support of the Exascale Computing Project were announced today with six vendors selected – AMD Read more…

By John Russell

Messina Update: The US Path to Exascale in 16 Slides

April 26, 2017

Paul Messina, director of the U.S. Exascale Computing Project, provided a wide-ranging review of ECP’s evolving plans last week at the HPC User Forum. Read more…

By John Russell

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Share This