[email protected] and the #LongestLastMile

By Elizabeth Leake, STEM-Trek

January 11, 2018

A multinational delegation recently attended the Understanding Risk in Shared CyberEcosystems workshop, or [email protected], in Denver, Colorado. URISC participants and presenters from 11 countries, including eight African nations, 12 U.S. states, Canada, India and Nepal, also attended SC17, the annual international conference for high performance computing (HPC), networking, storage and analysis that drew nearly 13,000 attendees. Von Welch (Indiana University), who directs the Center for Trustworthy Scientific Cyberinfrastructure, provided expert oversight for the URISC program. Welch invited nine specialists who presented open-source tools and cybersecurity best practices.

URISC Presenter Nick Roy, Director of Technology and Strategy for Internet2’s InCommon Federation, explained eduGAIN and its benefits to the global research community. “From a local management standpoint, eduGAIN saves managers time and effort because home credentials provide authentication and access to resources, instrumentation and data that are physically located at institutions in in 48 member countries that comprise an interfederated trust fabric,” said Roy. “It’s more secure, and takes less time to manage since researchers must only remember one user name and password,” he added.

1 eduGAIN member map. Key: dark-blue indicates eduGAIN membership, green are voting-only, and aqua indicates “candidate” sites.

While eduGAIN’s convenience and added security would be welcome in the many resource-constrained regions represented by URISC delegates, it was difficult for some to imagine that they could ever engage; there are many physical and financial barriers to entry.

For more than 50 years, HPC has supported tremendous advances in all areas of science. But densely-populated communities can more easily support subscription-based commodity networks and energy infrastructure that make it more affordable for urban universities to engage globally. Research centers based in sparsely-populated regions are extremely disadvantaged. There are fewer partners with which to cost-share connectivity, and copper thieves make it challenging to sustain infrastructure in the poorest regions. Their universities have a more difficult time recruiting and retaining skilled personnel who must travel further for training. In some cases, consumer prices are 70-80 percent lower, so hardware and software purchases are inflated; everything is shipped from developed countries which increases the cost.

But these regions reflect globally-significant human capacity, environmental factors, biodiversity, geology and minerals. Each site has a unique perspective of our universe, and less-populated areas offer the most detailed and unfettered vantage points. We can’t expect rural universities to pay for the pipe used by the rest of the world, however. The effort will require global cooperation, with broad public and private financial support. When researchers everywhere can access data generated by and stored at these sites, progress will be accelerated toward solutions to problems that impact global climate, environment, food and water security, public health, quality of life, and world peace.

Justifying #LongestLastMile engagement one case at a time…

The pan-European data network for research and education, GÉANT, with U.S. stakeholders, forged the pathway that originally made eduGAIN possible. It was conceived by the global High Energy Physics (HEP) community whose users required access to HEP instrumentation and data located in the U.S. (Laser Inferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, LIGO) and Europe (Large Hadron Collider at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, LHC-CERN).

The Office of CyberInfrastructure and Computational Biology at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID is part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health), is another such driver, and NIAID Chief Information Officer Michael Tartakovsky is eager to accommodate more global researchers who are fighting infectious diseases.

NIAID supports centers in Mali and Uganda that provide support and services for collaborations working on treatments and vaccines for Malaria, Ebola, and tuberculosis (TB) via eduGAIN and GÉANT’s research and education federation (REFEDS R&S). Beyond Africa, NIH looks forward to providing access to research staff at Fudan University when the China Federation joins eduGAIN. They are also working with the Indian Federation and its National Institute for Research in TB. “By joining the global trust federation network, we can all work together to solve the most daunting global infectious disease challenges,” said Tartakovsky.

The computational biology community is working to solve the world’s direst grand challenges. South African Computational Biologist Nicola Mulder’s group from the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine is analyzing sequence data from African human genomes that are of critical importance to public health and food security research. Until the South African Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC) introduced the Lengau supercomputer in 2016, UCT ran computations in the U.S. on Blue Waters at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). “We had access to NCSA computing facilities and then returned the processed data to South Africa; the processing and transfer took months to complete,” said Mulder.

Global energy demands will rely on a larger supply from alternative sources in the future, and Africa is expected to play a major role in energy production and innovation. “The need to power portable electronic devices and manage peaks and valleys associated with solar and wind energy will require more advanced battery storage solutions that will likely require minerals and rare earths that are abundant in sub-Saharan Africa,” said Principal Researcher Rapela Regina Maphanga (South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Modelling and Digital Science Division).

The global astrophysics and astronomy communities are watching sub-Saharan Africa with great anticipation. The Square Kilometer Array (SKA) is being built in the great Karoo region of South Africa and will be the world’s biggest radio telescope. With an expected 50-year lifespan, SKA is investing in regional infrastructure and human capital development, but SKA can’t do it alone; African infrastructure to serve the global research needs of the future will require a much larger investment.

In their SC17 keynote, Professor Phil Diamond (SKA Organization Director General) and Dr. Rosie Bolton (SKA Regional Centre Project Scientist) described the SKA project and its computational challenges. For the first phase of the project, which represents a fraction of what it will be in the future, the total processing power required in the SKA observatory’s Science Data Processors is about 250 PF (peak). Each SKA site is expected to generate up to 1 PB of data each day during full operations (from about 2026). SKA data will be globally-distributed to SKA “Regional Centres” which will provide researchers with access to data for analysis and processing. The design of this federated network is an interesting challenge since it will likely also support users from other observatories and even from other science disciplines as part of the HPC and networking infrastructures supported in each country or region.

With SKA’s presence in South Africa, a larger astro research presence will begin to take root in the region that will demand access to the global treasure-trove of data currently generated by six telescopes supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation, and complementary instrumentation, such as the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA), a precursor to SKA, in Western Australia at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO).

LIGO’s Identity and Access Management (IAM) Architect Scott Koranda (University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee which first piloted eduGAIN in 2014) said that MWA is establishing a new IAM infrastructure that is built on federated identity. Their services are published in the Australian Access Federation (AAF) and will soon be “pushed” into eduGAIN. “The eduGAIN component is important because MWA, like SKA, is a global project with scientists who live in and work from many countries,” said Koranda.

The important role NRENs play and their status in sub-Saharan Africa

African regional-serving universities benefit from fast and affordable bandwidth delivered via National Research and Education Networks, or NRENs, that engage with larger networks, such as the UbuntuNet Alliance in eastern and southern Africa, and WACREN in Western and Central Africa, to deliver more advanced service options. The major backbone then allies with Internet2 in the U.S. and GÉANT in Europe. Through this complex fabric of trust, it’s possible for NRENs to deliver eduGAIN service.

But, as was explained, developing an NREN from scratch is challenging for stakeholders in sparsely-populated, resource-constrained regions. In his December presentation to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Cyberinfrastructure Forum that was co-located with the South African Centre for High Performance Computing’s (CHPC) National Meeting in Pretoria, SANReN’s Director Leon Staphorst cited a 2016 World Bank Report by Michael Foley titled, “The Role and Status of NRENs in Africa.” The document serves as an important guide for those who wish to develop, use or fund an NREN.2

Photo: Leon Staphorst (SANRen)

Staphorst shared a table of progress being made toward African NREN development. Among nations represented at URISC that participate in the African HPC Ecosystems and SKA Readiness Projects (see map and slide excerpt below), South Africa is the only country whose researchers use eduGAIN (through relationships with GÉANT, SANReN and SAFIRE). In South Africa’s case, the HEP community’s need to reach LIGO/LHC in Geneva, Switzerland was a driver, with biomed demand a close second; specifically, access to a global TB research protocol required by scientists at the University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch University.

Next in queue among HPC Ecosystems sites that are prospective eduGAIN members given the operational status of their NRENs and subsequent engagement with UbuntuNet, are Ethiopia, Kenya and Zambia. It’s likely that Madagascar and Namibia will be next, followed by Botswana, Mauritius, and Mozambique.

3 HPC Ecosystems Project footprint

 

4 HPC Ecosystems Project sites/NREN Status

It can still require a considerable amount of time to move big data around the world, however. “African network traffic is currently routed via Europe before it travels to the U.S., and elsewhere,” said Julio Ibarra (Florida International University AVP for Technology Augmented Research). “Depending on the amount of data transferred among eduGAIN 48 member nations, the distance and number of Internet exchange sites along the way could cause significant delays,” he added.

Ibarra’s HPC On Common Ground @SC16 workshop presentation described a collaborative effort to facilitate “big data” transfers through the development of international software defined exchange points (SDX). The “AtlanticWave-SDX” is an NSF-funded project at Florida International University and the Georgia Institute of Technology, with support from Brazil’s NREN, Rede Nacional de Ensino e Pesquisa (RNP, and the Academic Network of Sao Paulo (ANSP). An SDX enables a domain scientist connected to an SDN network to use the network more intelligently; e.g., scheduling use when resources are available, or requesting a more favorable path.

In the future, Ibarra’s group hopes to explore the feasibility of establishing an SDX in West Africa, in collaboration with African NRENs, based on future availability of submarine cable spectrum for use by research and education communities between Western Africa and Brazil (scheduled 2018 and beyond, per Foley’s report).

5 Image from GEANT website.

Success, speed and reliability require some magic in the middle…

Irrespective of regional networks and the IAM infrastructure deployed at each site, moving and sharing massive amounts of data around the world requires a certain amount of geopolitical cooperation, compatible middleware and universally-adopted toolkits. One such resource is Globus which can securely and, more importantly, reliably transfer data in many scenarios where network availability and quality is highly variable. “Globus has already been successfully used on H3ABioNet to move and share data among far-flung research groups in Africa, and is currently being evaluated for broader adoption by a number of institutions in South Africa,” said Globus Co-Founder Ian Foster (University of Chicago).

With supercomputers capable of processing trillions of calculations per second, it’s unreasonable that critically-important research processes still require days or even months to complete. In light of current and anticipated global grand challenges, an accelerated process of discovery is fundamentally important to future generations’ prosperity, health and social stability. Developing the e-Infrastructure and human capital that serve the #LongestLastMile will require a globally-collaborative endeavor and investment.

About [email protected]

[email protected] was STEM-Trek Nonprofit’s third SC co-located workshop. Last year’s “HPC On Common Ground @SC16” program in Salt Lake City featured a food security theme. The SC17 program was led by Elizabeth Leake (STEM-Trek) and Von Welch (Indiana University), and was financially-supported by U.S. National Science Foundation grants managed by Indiana University and Oklahoma State University, with STEM-Trek donations from GoogleCorelight, SC17 General Chair Bernd Mohr (Jülich Supercomputing Centre) and SC17 Inclusivity Chair Toni Collis (U-Edinburgh).

Thank you!

STEM-Trek wishes to thank URISC collaborator Von Welch (Indiana University/CTSC), the planning committee from IU and CHPC South Africa, reviewers, financial and in-kind sponsors, and presenters—especially Nick Roy (InCommon) who inspired this article. We appreciate delegates who took time to apply for and attend our workshop, and all who covered the bases in their absence at home.


1. Map available on the eduGAIN site (accessed December 2017).

2. Foley, Michael. 2016. The Role and Status of National Research and Education Networks in Africa. SABER-ICT Technical Paper Series; World Bank, Washington, DC. © World Bank. https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/26258 License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.

3. HPC Ecosystems Project Footprint, image provided by the South African CHPC.

4. NREN Status in HPC Ecosystems Project sites (per Foley report via Dec. 2017 Staphorst CHPC presentation)

5. GÉANT member sites, accessed from the GÉANT site, December 2017.

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!

On the Spack Track @SC19

December 5, 2019

At the annual supercomputing conference, SC19 in Denver, Colorado, there were Spack events each day of the conference. As a reflection of its grassroots heritage, nine sessions were planned by more than a dozen thought leaders from seven organizations, including three U.S. national Department of Energy (DOE) laboratories and Sylabs... Read more…

By Elizabeth Leake

Intel’s New Hyderabad Design Center Targets Exascale Era Technologies

December 3, 2019

Intel's Raja Koduri was in India this week to help launch a new 300,000 square foot design and engineering center in Hyderabad, which will focus on advanced computing technologies for the AI and exascale era. "Over th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AWS Debuts 7nm 2nd-Gen Graviton Arm Processor

December 3, 2019

The “x86 Big Bang,” in which market dominance of the venerable Intel CPU has exploded into fragments of processor options suited to varying workloads, has now encompassed CPUs offered by the leading public cloud serv Read more…

By Doug Black

Medical Imaging Gets an AI Boost

December 3, 2019

AI technologies incorporated into diagnostic imaging tools have proven useful in eliminating confirmation bias, often outperforming human clinicians who may bring their own prejudices. Another issue slowing progress is t Read more…

By George Leopold

Ride on the Wild Side – Squyres SC19 Mars Rovers Keynote

December 2, 2019

Reminding us of the deep and enabling connection between HPC and modern science is an important part of the SC Conference mission. And yes, HPC is a science itself. At SC19, Steve Squyres’ opening keynote recounting th Read more…

By John Russell

AWS Solution Channel

Making High Performance Computing Affordable and Accessible for Small and Medium Businesses with HPC on AWS

High performance computing (HPC) brings a powerful set of tools to a broad range of industries, helping to drive innovation and boost revenue in finance, genomics, oil and gas extraction, and other fields. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

AI Needs Intelligent HPC infrastructure

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has revolutionized entire industries and enables humanity to solve some of the most daunting challenges. To accomplish this, it requires massive amounts of data from heterogeneous sources that is processed it new ways that differs significantly from HPC applications. Read more…

NSCI Update – Adapting to a Changing Landscape

December 2, 2019

It was November of 2017 when we last visited the topic of the National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI). As you will recall, the NSCI was started with an Executive Order (E.O. No. 13702), that was issued by President Obama in July of 2015 and was followed by a Strategic Plan that was released in July of 2016. The question for November of 2017... Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

On the Spack Track @SC19

December 5, 2019

At the annual supercomputing conference, SC19 in Denver, Colorado, there were Spack events each day of the conference. As a reflection of its grassroots heritage, nine sessions were planned by more than a dozen thought leaders from seven organizations, including three U.S. national Department of Energy (DOE) laboratories and Sylabs... Read more…

By Elizabeth Leake

Intel’s New Hyderabad Design Center Targets Exascale Era Technologies

December 3, 2019

Intel's Raja Koduri was in India this week to help launch a new 300,000 square foot design and engineering center in Hyderabad, which will focus on advanced com Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AWS Debuts 7nm 2nd-Gen Graviton Arm Processor

December 3, 2019

The “x86 Big Bang,” in which market dominance of the venerable Intel CPU has exploded into fragments of processor options suited to varying workloads, has n Read more…

By Doug Black

Ride on the Wild Side – Squyres SC19 Mars Rovers Keynote

December 2, 2019

Reminding us of the deep and enabling connection between HPC and modern science is an important part of the SC Conference mission. And yes, HPC is a science its Read more…

By John Russell

NSCI Update – Adapting to a Changing Landscape

December 2, 2019

It was November of 2017 when we last visited the topic of the National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI). As you will recall, the NSCI was started with an Executive Order (E.O. No. 13702), that was issued by President Obama in July of 2015 and was followed by a Strategic Plan that was released in July of 2016. The question for November of 2017... Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

Tsinghua University Racks Up Its Ninth Student Cluster Championship Win at SC19

November 27, 2019

Tsinghua University has done it again. At SC19 last week, the eight-time gold medal-winner team took home the top prize in the 2019 Student Cluster Competition Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

SC19: IBM Changes Its HPC-AI Game Plan

November 25, 2019

It’s probably fair to say IBM is known for big bets. Summit supercomputer – a big win. Red Hat acquisition – looking like a big win. OpenPOWER and Power processors – jury’s out? At SC19, long-time IBMer Dave Turek sketched out a different kind of bet for Big Blue – a small ball strategy, if you’ll forgive the baseball analogy... Read more…

By John Russell

How the Gordon Bell Prize Winners Used Summit to Illuminate Transistors

November 22, 2019

At SC19, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) awarded the prestigious Gordon Bell Prize to the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich. The Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Supercomputer-Powered AI Tackles a Key Fusion Energy Challenge

August 7, 2019

Fusion energy is the Holy Grail of the energy world: low-radioactivity, low-waste, zero-carbon, high-output nuclear power that can run on hydrogen or lithium. T Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Using AI to Solve One of the Most Prevailing Problems in CFD

October 17, 2019

How can artificial intelligence (AI) and high-performance computing (HPC) solve mesh generation, one of the most commonly referenced problems in computational engineering? A new study has set out to answer this question and create an industry-first AI-mesh application... Read more…

By James Sharpe

Cray Wins NNSA-Livermore ‘El Capitan’ Exascale Contract

August 13, 2019

Cray has won the bid to build the first exascale supercomputer for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and Lawrence Livermore National Laborator Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

DARPA Looks to Propel Parallelism

September 4, 2019

As Moore’s law runs out of steam, new programming approaches are being pursued with the goal of greater hardware performance with less coding. The Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency is launching a new programming effort aimed at leveraging the benefits of massive distributed parallelism with less sweat. Read more…

By George Leopold

D-Wave’s Path to 5000 Qubits; Google’s Quantum Supremacy Claim

September 24, 2019

On the heels of IBM’s quantum news last week come two more quantum items. D-Wave Systems today announced the name of its forthcoming 5000-qubit system, Advantage (yes the name choice isn’t serendipity), at its user conference being held this week in Newport, RI. Read more…

By John Russell

Ayar Labs to Demo Photonics Chiplet in FPGA Package at Hot Chips

August 19, 2019

Silicon startup Ayar Labs continues to gain momentum with its DARPA-backed optical chiplet technology that puts advanced electronics and optics on the same chip Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AMD Launches Epyc Rome, First 7nm CPU

August 8, 2019

From a gala event at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco yesterday (Aug. 7), AMD launched its second-generation Epyc Rome x86 chips, based on its 7nm proce Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

SC19: IBM Changes Its HPC-AI Game Plan

November 25, 2019

It’s probably fair to say IBM is known for big bets. Summit supercomputer – a big win. Red Hat acquisition – looking like a big win. OpenPOWER and Power processors – jury’s out? At SC19, long-time IBMer Dave Turek sketched out a different kind of bet for Big Blue – a small ball strategy, if you’ll forgive the baseball analogy... Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

ISC 2019 Virtual Booth Video Tour

CRAY
CRAY
DDN
DDN
DELL EMC
DELL EMC
GOOGLE
GOOGLE
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
PANASAS
PANASAS
VERNE GLOBAL
VERNE GLOBAL

Cray, Fujitsu Both Bringing Fujitsu A64FX-based Supercomputers to Market in 2020

November 12, 2019

The number of top-tier HPC systems makers has shrunk due to a steady march of M&A activity, but there is increased diversity and choice of processing compon Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Crystal Ball Gazing: IBM’s Vision for the Future of Computing

October 14, 2019

Dario Gil, IBM’s relatively new director of research, painted a intriguing portrait of the future of computing along with a rough idea of how IBM thinks we’ Read more…

By John Russell

Intel Debuts New GPU – Ponte Vecchio – and Outlines Aspirations for oneAPI

November 17, 2019

Intel today revealed a few more details about its forthcoming Xe line of GPUs – the top SKU is named Ponte Vecchio and will be used in Aurora, the first plann Read more…

By John Russell

Kubernetes, Containers and HPC

September 19, 2019

Software containers and Kubernetes are important tools for building, deploying, running and managing modern enterprise applications at scale and delivering enterprise software faster and more reliably to the end user — while using resources more efficiently and reducing costs. Read more…

By Daniel Gruber, Burak Yenier and Wolfgang Gentzsch, UberCloud

Dell Ramps Up HPC Testing of AMD Rome Processors

October 21, 2019

Dell Technologies is wading deeper into the AMD-based systems market with a growing evaluation program for the latest Epyc (Rome) microprocessors from AMD. In a Read more…

By John Russell

SC19: Welcome to Denver

November 17, 2019

A significant swath of the HPC community has come to Denver for SC19, which began today (Sunday) with a rich technical program. As is customary, the ribbon cutt Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

When Dense Matrix Representations Beat Sparse

September 9, 2019

In our world filled with unintended consequences, it turns out that saving memory space to help deal with GPU limitations, knowing it introduces performance pen Read more…

By James Reinders

With the Help of HPC, Astronomers Prepare to Deflect a Real Asteroid

September 26, 2019

For years, NASA has been running simulations of asteroid impacts to understand the risks (and likelihoods) of asteroids colliding with Earth. Now, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are preparing for the next, crucial step in planetary defense against asteroid impacts: physically deflecting a real asteroid. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This