Making Sense of Cyberinfrastructure

By Jan Zverina, San Diego Supercomputer Center, University of California, San Diego

August 17, 2015


Reference Architectures Can Help Make Sense – and Science – Out of Computing Cyberinfrastructure, NSF’s Jim Kurose Tells XSEDE15 Attendees

Cyberinfrastructure. If there’s one word that’s likely to create confusion both within the scientific research community and among the public at large, this may be it. Yet the concept of cyberinfrastructure is at the very core of the nation’s top scientific research priorities, and the National Science Foundation is firmly committed to continuing to make cyberinfrastructure resources available to researchers across the nation.

While the term often comes with what Jim Kurose, assistant director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) for Computer & Information Science & Engineering (CISE), describes as “confusing” terminology – even to researchers across science and engineering disciplines – he says there is no doubt to the benefits of cyberinfrastructure as both an integrated resource and means for today’s researchers to push forward the boundaries of their disciplines.

“We have an Administration that’s been really big on pushing national research priorities that have a lot to do with computing,” Kurose told attendees at the 2015 eXtreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) conference in St. Louis, Mo., in late July. “We have the big data initiative, the national robotics initiative, and the BRAIN initiative… all with cyberinfrastructure playing a critical role. There’s also secure cyberspace, education, and workforce development. These are things where computing and cyberinfrastructure are centrally involved.”

Jim Kurose, assistant director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) for Computer & Information Science & Engineering (CISE)

The NSF defines cyberinfrastructure as a dynamic ecosystem consisting of advanced computing systems, data, software – and, most importantly, people – all linked by high-speed networks that allow researchers to innovate and make discoveries that may not otherwise be possible. Kurose, who began his current role at NSF in early 2015, sees the need for the Foundation to view cyberinfrastructure in its entirety as not only the pathway to scientific discovery, but as helping to drive the national economy and global competitiveness in key areas, such as advanced manufacturing, visualization, drug discovery, and personalized medicine.

“Clearly, we’ve moved and evolved from being really ‘big iron-focused’ to also worrying about data, networking, and also security and software,” Kurose told XSEDE attendees. “There is the notion of this important interplay between industry, federal government, and academia in the area of computing as well as cyberinfrastructure.”

Such collaborative cyberinfrastructure is already transforming research frontiers, Kurose said, citing examples such as EarthCube, the Research Data Alliance, and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) project.

Rolling Their Own

The challenge, according to Kurose, is to create ways for scientists to leverage cyberinfrastructure resources that already exist, and one solution lies in what he calls reference architectures or models.

“Reference models are really all about talking to other people about what you’re doing so they can see their place in the larger picture of what you’re doing.” he said. Otherwise, he noted, cyberinfrastructure can just be confusing to some researchers as well as decision-makers inside and outside the research community.

“The notion of reference architectures… is a way for us to accelerate the science by letting the scientists understand where they can fit into this larger picture, where they’re going to have to do some work on their own, and where they can reuse things that others before them have done,” Kurose said, adding later that “I see this as a very bottom-up process.”

“We at the National Science Foundation should think about these reference architectures, what we are doing across the Foundation, and what cyberinfrastructure exists out there so that folks who want to use cyberinfrastructure don’t roll their own,” he said. “While some specialization may be needed, they should know what’s already available to them so they can leverage the work that communities such as XSEDE have already done.”

Kurose praised the XSEDE organization, the result of a five-year, $121-million project  supported by the NSF, for its work in advancing science by promoting cyberinfrastructure through various programs including education, outreach, and training.

“What XSEDE is accomplishing is really remarkable, and its ecosystem is unparalleled,” Kurose said. “The goal here is about making cyberinfrastructure available to the science community, and XSEDE is a community event for people in the trenches and doing the work, including the Campus Champions and students.”

Kurose also noted that while demand among researchers for XSEDE resources and expertise has been increasing, the distribution of the type of demand is changing as well, including areas such as social, behavioral, and economic sciences, which has seen exponential growth in the use of cyberinfrastructure as a means for accomplishing research. “This is all a measure of the success of the type of cyberinfrastructure that you folks are making available to the country.”

In discussing future challenges across CISE and NSF, Kurose said that sustainability is a constant subject of discussion.

“We are discussing this on a daily basis,” he said. “This is sustainability having to do with people, software, and hardware. They all have different sustainability lifecycles and we need to be thinking seriously about what’s the right timeframe to be making investments in order to provide that kind of stability, while at the same time allowing for change and allowing for innovation.”

Related Links:

National Science Foundation


Jim Kurose

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!

New Exascale System for Earth Simulation Introduced

April 23, 2018

After four years of development, the Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM) will be unveiled today and released to the broader scientific community this month. The E3SM project is supported by the Department of Energy Read more…

By Staff

RSC Reports 500Tflops, Hot Water Cooled System Deployed at JINR

April 18, 2018

RSC, developer of supercomputers and advanced HPC systems based in Russia, today reported deployment of “the world's first 100% ‘hot water’ liquid cooled supercomputer” at Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JI Read more…

By Staff

New Device Spots Quantum Particle ‘Fingerprint’

April 18, 2018

Majorana particles have been observed by university researchers employing a device consisting of layers of magnetic insulators on a superconducting material. The advance opens the door to controlling the elusive particle Read more…

By George Leopold

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Hybrid HPC is Speeding Time to Insight and Revolutionizing Medicine

High performance computing (HPC) is a key driver of success in many verticals today, and health and life science industries are extensively leveraging these capabilities. Read more…

Cray Rolls Out AMD-Based CS500; More to Follow?

April 18, 2018

Cray was the latest OEM to bring AMD back into the fold with introduction today of a CS500 option based on AMD’s Epyc processor line. The move follows Cray’s introduction of an ARM-based system (XC-50) last November. Read more…

By John Russell

Cray Rolls Out AMD-Based CS500; More to Follow?

April 18, 2018

Cray was the latest OEM to bring AMD back into the fold with introduction today of a CS500 option based on AMD’s Epyc processor line. The move follows Cray’ Read more…

By John Russell

IBM: Software Ecosystem for OpenPOWER is Ready for Prime Time

April 16, 2018

With key pieces of the IBM/OpenPOWER versus Intel/x86 gambit settling into place – e.g., the arrival of Power9 chips and Power9-based systems, hyperscaler sup Read more…

By John Russell

US Plans $1.8 Billion Spend on DOE Exascale Supercomputing

April 11, 2018

On Monday, the United States Department of Energy announced its intention to procure up to three exascale supercomputers at a cost of up to $1.8 billion with th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Cloud-Readiness and Looking Beyond Application Scaling

April 11, 2018

There are two aspects to consider when determining if an application is suitable for running in the cloud. The first, which we will discuss here under the title Read more…

By Chris Downing

Transitioning from Big Data to Discovery: Data Management as a Keystone Analytics Strategy

April 9, 2018

The past 10-15 years has seen a stark rise in the density, size, and diversity of scientific data being generated in every scientific discipline in the world. Key among the sciences has been the explosion of laboratory technologies that generate large amounts of data in life-sciences and healthcare research. Large amounts of data are now being stored in very large storage name spaces, with little to no organization and a general unease about how to approach analyzing it. Read more…

By Ari Berman, BioTeam, Inc.

IBM Expands Quantum Computing Network

April 5, 2018

IBM is positioning itself as a first mover in establishing the era of commercial quantum computing. The company believes in order for quantum to work, taming qu Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

FY18 Budget & CORAL-2 – Exascale USA Continues to Move Ahead

April 2, 2018

It was not pretty. However, despite some twists and turns, the federal government’s Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) budget is complete and ended with some very positi Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

Nvidia Ups Hardware Game with 16-GPU DGX-2 Server and 18-Port NVSwitch

March 27, 2018

Nvidia unveiled a raft of new products from its annual technology conference in San Jose today, and despite not offering up a new chip architecture, there were still a few surprises in store for HPC hardware aficionados. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Inventor Claims to Have Solved Floating Point Error Problem

January 17, 2018

"The decades-old floating point error problem has been solved," proclaims a press release from inventor Alan Jorgensen. The computer scientist has filed for and Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Researchers Measure Impact of ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Patches on HPC Workloads

January 17, 2018

Computer scientists from the Center for Computational Research, State University of New York (SUNY), University at Buffalo have examined the effect of Meltdown Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Russian Nuclear Engineers Caught Cryptomining on Lab Supercomputer

February 12, 2018

Nuclear scientists working at the All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics (RFNC-VNIIEF) have been arrested for using lab supercomputing resources to mine crypto-currency, according to a report in Russia’s Interfax News Agency. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

How the Cloud Is Falling Short for HPC

March 15, 2018

The last couple of years have seen cloud computing gradually build some legitimacy within the HPC world, but still the HPC industry lies far behind enterprise I Read more…

By Chris Downing

Chip Flaws ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Loom Large

January 4, 2018

The HPC and wider tech community have been abuzz this week over the discovery of critical design flaws that impact virtually all contemporary microprocessors. T Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

How Meltdown and Spectre Patches Will Affect HPC Workloads

January 10, 2018

There have been claims that the fixes for the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities, named the KPTI (aka KAISER) patches, are going to affect applicatio Read more…

By Rosemary Francis

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

Fast Forward: Five HPC Predictions for 2018

December 21, 2017

What’s on your list of high (and low) lights for 2017? Volta 100’s arrival on the heels of the P100? Appearance, albeit late in the year, of IBM’s Power9? Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

Deep Learning at 15 PFlops Enables Training for Extreme Weather Identification at Scale

March 19, 2018

Petaflop per second deep learning training performance on the NERSC (National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center) Cori supercomputer has given climate Read more…

By Rob Farber

Lenovo Unveils Warm Water Cooled ThinkSystem SD650 in Rampup to LRZ Install

February 22, 2018

This week Lenovo took the wraps off the ThinkSystem SD650 high-density server with third-generation direct water cooling technology developed in tandem with par Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AI Cloud Competition Heats Up: Google’s TPUs, Amazon Building AI Chip

February 12, 2018

Competition in the white hot AI (and public cloud) market pits Google against Amazon this week, with Google offering AI hardware on its cloud platform intended Read more…

By Doug Black

HPC and AI – Two Communities Same Future

January 25, 2018

According to Al Gara (Intel Fellow, Data Center Group), high performance computing and artificial intelligence will increasingly intertwine as we transition to Read more…

By Rob Farber

New Blueprint for Converging HPC, Big Data

January 18, 2018

After five annual workshops on Big Data and Extreme-Scale Computing (BDEC), a group of international HPC heavyweights including Jack Dongarra (University of Te Read more…

By John Russell

US Plans $1.8 Billion Spend on DOE Exascale Supercomputing

April 11, 2018

On Monday, the United States Department of Energy announced its intention to procure up to three exascale supercomputers at a cost of up to $1.8 billion with th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Momentum Builds for US Exascale

January 9, 2018

2018 looks to be a great year for the U.S. exascale program. The last several months of 2017 revealed a number of important developments that help put the U.S. Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

Google Chases Quantum Supremacy with 72-Qubit Processor

March 7, 2018

Google pulled ahead of the pack this week in the race toward "quantum supremacy," with the introduction of a new 72-qubit quantum processor called Bristlecone. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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