Machines, Connections, Data, and Especially People: OAC Acting Director Amy Friedlander Charts Office’s Blueprint for Innovation

By Ken Chiacchia, Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center/XSEDE

August 3, 2020

The path to innovation in cyberinfrastructure (CI) will require continued focus on building HPC systems and secure connections between them, in addition to the increasingly important goals of data best practices and workforce development, said Amy Friedlander, acting director of the NSF’s Office of Advanced Cybersecurity (OAC) in the final plenary session of PEARC20. On July 30, 2020, Friedlander explained how OAC’s combined focus on networking, cybersecurity and computing resources, as well as its possibly less-well-known concentration on data, software, and learning, is aimed at ensuring the nation’s CI develops with all of those imperatives accounted for.

The Practice and Experience in Advanced Research Computing (PEARC) Conference Series is a community-driven effort built on the successes of the past, with the aim to grow and be more inclusive by involving additional local, regional, national, and international CI and research computing partners spanning academia, government and industry. Sponsored by the ACM, the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society, PEARC20 took place between July 27 and 31.

This year’s theme, “Catch the Wave,” embodied the spirit of the community’s drive to stay on pace and in front of all the new waves in technology, analytics, and a globally connected and diverse workforce. Scientific discovery and innovation require a robust, innovative and resilient CI to support the critical research required to address world challenges in climate change, population, health, energy and environment.

It’s About Machines

When most people think of OAC, arguably the ecosystem of advanced computing resources funded by the office springs first to mind. Friedlander charted out the latest of these systems, and how OAC’s thinking about funding them has evolved. OAC currently funds three major classes of program: Leadership Class, Innovative Systems & Services, and Coordination Services.

The NSF-funded Frontera supercomputer of the Texas Advanced Computing Center at UT Austin is ranked #8 fastest in the world and #1 for academic systems, according to the June 2020 Top500 rankings. (Credit: TACC)

OAC has funded one “Leadership Class” system, Frontera at the Texas Advanced Computing Center. As the name suggests, this system began its operational life as an extreme-scale machine near the top of what is possible with HPC, supporting research across the NSF’s directorates. As examples, Friedlander highlighted work by Alexander Tchekhovskoy at Northwestern University in astrophysics, Ivan Soltesz at Stanford in neuroscience, and Paul Morin at the University of Minnesota in analysis of polar satellite imagery that utilized Frontera.

For the first time in 2019, OAC funded two types of system within the Innovative Systems & Services class: “Capacity Systems” and “Testbed Systems.” The latter are smaller, experimental systems, the former are ones intended to go into operation and to support major work by researchers. The smaller testbed systems are prototypes to provide an on-ramp for new capabilities in OAC’s operational systems. Examples of testbeds include Ookami at Stony Brook University, announced at PEARC19 last year; and Neocortex at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC) and Voyager at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC), announced at PEARC20.

The Capacity Systems, meant for production computation but at a smaller scale than the Leadership systems, might spread NSF funding over more systems at more centers. The aim is to expand the opportunities and access for a broad range of supercomputing projects, enabled by the fact that new technology allows smaller systems to provide performance that previously might have been associated with larger machines. Examples include Bridges-2 at PSC and Expanse at SDSC, announced at PEARC19; and Anvil at Purdue University, Delta at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, and Jetstream2 at Indiana University, and, announced this year.

“The notion we had was to spur innovation in two ways,” Friedlander said. “One of them was to do more, smaller systems. Given the power that is now possible, rather than building another, say, $50-million or $30-million machine, could we break these into a set of smaller systems and have them more widely distributed?” As a second prod to innovation, “we had the opportunity to have a wider range of architectures and therefore [more] ability to…innovate.”

It’s About Connections

Another top OAC funding priority is expanding and integrating these machines, other computational systems, and researchers by supporting networking and cybersecurity. OAC has enabled connectivity at virtually every scale, backing global networking via the NSF International Research Network Connections Program (IRNC); national network infrastructure in partnership with Internet2 and ESNet; and campus up to state and regional connectivity via Campus Cyberinfrastructure (CC*). Hand in hand with such cybercommunication is security, which OAC supports via the Cybersecurity Innovation for Cyberinfrastructure Innovation (CICI) program.

Friedlander called out CC* and CICI for particular focus. For the former, she cited the strong campus-level partnerships that enable learning institutions to upgrade their campus networks and external connectivity to the national research and engineering fabric. Speaking of the latter, CICI’s operational cybersecurity focus fills a gap in Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace (SaTC), the NSF’s current, $75-million flagship security program, by funding Transition to Practice (TTP) within SaTC.

In addition, the 2020 fiscal year saw an innovation track with linkages to FABRIC and the Open Science Grid (OSG), and six additional funded projects, through Exploring Clouds for Acceleration of Science (E-CAS), which will leverage commercial cloud capabilities to perform scientific research while developing technologies needed.

It’s About Data and Software

Less well known, perhaps, among the OAC’s portfolio are the programs that fund work in data and software. Friedlander reminded the audience that the Cyberinfrastructure for Sustained Scientific Innovation (CSSI) program now integrates the Data Infrastructure Building Blocks (DIBBs) and Software Infrastructure for Sustained Innovation solicitations to support scientific innovation and discovery through improved data and software CI, following and helping to disseminate best practices in data management and software development.

“If you will, it’s another experiment by integrating these two programs under a single umbrella,” to fund operations that are flexible and responsive to the needs of the research community, Friedlander said. She’s particularly proud of how nimbly individual CSSI projects pivoted to support COVID-19 research. “My advice to all of you is, ‘Watch this space.’”

Friedlander gave specific examples of data/software advances enabled by OAC funding. GeoCODES, the Geoscience Cyberinfrastructure for Open Discovery in the Earth Sciences, a project supported by the NSF Geosciences directorate and OAC,  links a number of pilot NSF data facilities with web-based metadata organizations; the computing ecosystem of NSF’s XSEDE CI program; commercial cloud services; and the most popular cloud computing tools, such as HTML5, Jupyter, R, and MATLAB. Harnessing the Data Revolution (HDR) connects foundations, systems, and CI; data intensive science and engineering; and education and workforce elements to support research in a variety of fields in the life, environmental, materials, and earth science domains. SAGE explores new techniques for applying machine learning algorithms to data from such intelligent sensors and then build reusable software that can run programs within the embedded computer and transmit the results over the network to central computer servers to support a resilient, multimessenger network to detect gradual changes in domains such as early tsunami prediction.

Mostly, Though, It’s About People

Another thrust of OAC that may not be widely known is its increasing focus on developing the sophisticated workforce necessary to maintain technical progress, Friedlander said. The office funds training at multiple levels, supporting cyberscientists, professional staff, and of course domain-expert scientists focused on their fields rather than HPC. Examples included the NSF-wide Faculty Early Career Development Program, the CISE Research Initiation Initiative, CyberTraining-based Workforce Development for Advanced Cyberinfrastructure, the CISE-wide OAC Core Research Program, and Computing Innovation Fellows.

“All of this is always about people,” she added. “It always comes back to people and we’ve known it.”

The OAC Core Research Program is a solicitation meant to foster multidisciplinary, translational research in all aspects of CI. Research areas include architecture and middleware for extreme-scale systems, scalable algorithms and applications, and an ecosystem of advanced CI. OAC’s Data-Intensive Discovery Pathways, Friedlander explained, provides the “missing middle” that links the wealth of new data sources to scientific exploration by connecting computing, data, networking, software, and above all people.

Building Infrastructure Is Slow…But the Science Is Amazing

Globally, Friedlander said, OAC is focusing on building CI that moves discovery forward securely, without becoming an impediment to exploration and open communication.

“There are matters where the policy is about the technology, and there are matters where the technology can help us operationalize solutions or point to solutions,” she said. “And then there are the third category of matters that affect how we build the technology but are far broader than the technology itself.” An example of the last being the very big question of ensuring the trustworthiness of science, which spans from best practice in data handling to larger issues of trust between scientists and the larger society, as well as gender and equity questions.

“I’ve made the case…that building infrastructure systems, despite the pace of technological change, is actually fairly slow,” she said. “That isn’t to say that we’re not calling for innovation or that all we want to do is incremental development. But it is also true, if you look back at the major developments, that they are cumulative.”

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!

The Present and Future of AI: A Discussion with HPC Visionary Dr. Eng Lim Goh

November 27, 2020

As HPE’s chief technology officer for artificial intelligence, Dr. Eng Lim Goh devotes much of his time talking and consulting with enterprise customers about how AI can benefit their business operations and products. Read more…

By Todd R. Weiss

SC20 Panel – OK, You Hate Storage Tiering. What’s Next Then?

November 25, 2020

Tiering in HPC storage has a bad rep. No one likes it. It complicates things and slows I/O. At least one storage technology newcomer – VAST Data – advocates dumping the whole idea. One large-scale user, NERSC storage architect Glenn Lockwood sort of agrees. The challenge, of course, is that tiering... Read more…

By John Russell

Exscalate4CoV Runs 70 Billion-Molecule Coronavirus Simulation

November 25, 2020

The winds of the pandemic are changing – for better and for worse. Three viable vaccines now teeter on the brink of regulatory approval, which will pave the way for broad distribution by April or May. But until then, COVID-19 cases are skyrocketing across the U.S. and Europe... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Azure Scaled to Record 86,400 Cores for Molecular Dynamics

November 20, 2020

A new record for HPC scaling on the public cloud has been achieved on Microsoft Azure. Led by Dr. Jer-Ming Chia, the cloud provider partnered with the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the Universi Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Gordon Bell Special Prize Goes to Massive SARS-CoV-2 Simulations

November 19, 2020

2020 has proven a harrowing year – but it has produced remarkable heroes. To that end, this year, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) introduced the Gordon Bell Special Prize for High Performance Computing-Ba Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

AWS Solution Channel

Introducing AWS ParallelCluster as an Intel Select Solution

High performance computing (HPC) system owners can spend weeks or months researching, procuring, and assembling components to build HPC clusters to run their workloads. Understanding and managing the complexities of compute, storage, networking, and software requirements can be confusing and time-consuming, slowing innovation and results. Read more…

Intel® HPC + AI Pavilion

Intel Keynote Address

Intel is the foundation of HPC – from the workstation to the cloud to the backbone of the Top500. At SC20, Intel’s Trish Damkroger, VP and GM of high performance computing, addresses the audience to show how Intel and its partners are building the future of HPC today, through hardware and software technologies that accelerate the broad deployment of advanced HPC systems. Read more…

Gordon Bell Prize Winner Breaks Ground in AI-Infused Ab Initio Simulation

November 19, 2020

The race to blend deep learning and first-principle simulation to speed up solutions and scale up problems tackled is one of the most exciting research areas in computational science today. This year’s ACM Gordon Bell Prize winner announced today at SC20 makes significant progress in that direction. Read more…

By John Russell

The Present and Future of AI: A Discussion with HPC Visionary Dr. Eng Lim Goh

November 27, 2020

As HPE’s chief technology officer for artificial intelligence, Dr. Eng Lim Goh devotes much of his time talking and consulting with enterprise customers about Read more…

By Todd R. Weiss

SC20 Panel – OK, You Hate Storage Tiering. What’s Next Then?

November 25, 2020

Tiering in HPC storage has a bad rep. No one likes it. It complicates things and slows I/O. At least one storage technology newcomer – VAST Data – advocates dumping the whole idea. One large-scale user, NERSC storage architect Glenn Lockwood sort of agrees. The challenge, of course, is that tiering... Read more…

By John Russell

Exscalate4CoV Runs 70 Billion-Molecule Coronavirus Simulation

November 25, 2020

The winds of the pandemic are changing – for better and for worse. Three viable vaccines now teeter on the brink of regulatory approval, which will pave the way for broad distribution by April or May. But until then, COVID-19 cases are skyrocketing across the U.S. and Europe... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Azure Scaled to Record 86,400 Cores for Molecular Dynamics

November 20, 2020

A new record for HPC scaling on the public cloud has been achieved on Microsoft Azure. Led by Dr. Jer-Ming Chia, the cloud provider partnered with the Beckman I Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Gordon Bell Special Prize Goes to Massive SARS-CoV-2 Simulations

November 19, 2020

2020 has proven a harrowing year – but it has produced remarkable heroes. To that end, this year, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) introduced the Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Gordon Bell Prize Winner Breaks Ground in AI-Infused Ab Initio Simulation

November 19, 2020

The race to blend deep learning and first-principle simulation to speed up solutions and scale up problems tackled is one of the most exciting research areas in computational science today. This year’s ACM Gordon Bell Prize winner announced today at SC20 makes significant progress in that direction. Read more…

By John Russell

SC20 Keynote: Climate, Exascale & the Ultimate Answer

November 19, 2020

SC20’s keynote was delivered by renowned meteorologist and climatologist Bjorn Stevens, a director at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology since 2008 and a professor at the University of Hamburg. In his keynote, Stevens traced the history of climate science from its earliest days through... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

EuroHPC Exec. Dir. Talks Procurement, EPI, and Europe’s Efforts to Control its HPC Destiny

November 19, 2020

While much of the HPC community’s attention is fixed on SC20’s flood of news and new product announcements, Anders Dam Jensen, the newly-minted executive di Read more…

By Steve Conway

Nvidia Said to Be Close on Arm Deal

August 3, 2020

GPU leader Nvidia Corp. is in talks to buy U.K. chip designer Arm from parent company Softbank, according to several reports over the weekend. If consummated Read more…

By George Leopold

Supercomputer-Powered Research Uncovers Signs of ‘Bradykinin Storm’ That May Explain COVID-19 Symptoms

July 28, 2020

Doctors and medical researchers have struggled to pinpoint – let alone explain – the deluge of symptoms induced by COVID-19 infections in patients, and what Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Azure Scaled to Record 86,400 Cores for Molecular Dynamics

November 20, 2020

A new record for HPC scaling on the public cloud has been achieved on Microsoft Azure. Led by Dr. Jer-Ming Chia, the cloud provider partnered with the Beckman I Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Google Hires Longtime Intel Exec Bill Magro to Lead HPC Strategy

September 18, 2020

In a sign of the times, another prominent HPCer has made a move to a hyperscaler. Longtime Intel executive Bill Magro joined Google as chief technologist for hi Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Keeps Cray Brand Promise, Reveals HPE Cray Supercomputing Line

August 4, 2020

The HPC community, ever-affectionate toward Cray and its eponymous founder, can breathe a (virtual) sigh of relief. The Cray brand will live on, encompassing th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

10nm, 7nm, 5nm…. Should the Chip Nanometer Metric Be Replaced?

June 1, 2020

The biggest cool factor in server chips is the nanometer. AMD beating Intel to a CPU built on a 7nm process node* – with 5nm and 3nm on the way – has been i Read more…

By Doug Black

NICS Unleashes ‘Kraken’ Supercomputer

April 4, 2008

A Cray XT4 supercomputer, dubbed Kraken, is scheduled to come online in mid-summer at the National Institute for Computational Sciences (NICS). The soon-to-be petascale system, and the resulting NICS organization, are the result of an NSF Track II award of $65 million to the University of Tennessee and its partners to provide next-generation supercomputing for the nation's science community. Read more…

Is the Nvidia A100 GPU Performance Worth a Hardware Upgrade?

October 16, 2020

Over the last decade, accelerators have seen an increasing rate of adoption in high-performance computing (HPC) platforms, and in the June 2020 Top500 list, eig Read more…

By Hartwig Anzt, Ahmad Abdelfattah and Jack Dongarra

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

Aurora’s Troubles Move Frontier into Pole Exascale Position

October 1, 2020

Intel’s 7nm node delay has raised questions about the status of the Aurora supercomputer that was scheduled to be stood up at Argonne National Laboratory next year. Aurora was in the running to be the United States’ first exascale supercomputer although it was on a contemporaneous timeline with... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

European Commission Declares €8 Billion Investment in Supercomputing

September 18, 2020

Just under two years ago, the European Commission formalized the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking (JU): a concerted HPC effort (comprising 32 participating states at c Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

At Oak Ridge, ‘End of Life’ Sometimes Isn’t

October 31, 2020

Sometimes, the old dog actually does go live on a farm. HPC systems are often cursed with short lifespans, as they are continually supplanted by the latest and Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Texas A&M Announces Flagship ‘Grace’ Supercomputer

November 9, 2020

Texas A&M University has announced its next flagship system: Grace. The new supercomputer, named for legendary programming pioneer Grace Hopper, is replacing the Ada system (itself named for mathematician Ada Lovelace) as the primary workhorse for Texas A&M’s High Performance Research Computing (HPRC). Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Top500: Fugaku Keeps Crown, Nvidia’s Selene Climbs to #5

November 16, 2020

With the publication of the 56th Top500 list today from SC20's virtual proceedings, Japan's Fugaku supercomputer – now fully deployed – notches another win, Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia and EuroHPC Team for Four Supercomputers, Including Massive ‘Leonardo’ System

October 15, 2020

The EuroHPC Joint Undertaking (JU) serves as Europe’s concerted supercomputing play, currently comprising 32 member states and billions of euros in funding. I Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Microsoft Azure Adds A100 GPU Instances for ‘Supercomputer-Class AI’ in the Cloud

August 19, 2020

Microsoft Azure continues to infuse its cloud platform with HPC- and AI-directed technologies. Today the cloud services purveyor announced a new virtual machine Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia-Arm Deal a Boon for RISC-V?

October 26, 2020

The $40 billion blockbuster acquisition deal that will bring chipmaker Arm into the Nvidia corporate family could provide a boost for the competing RISC-V architecture. As regulators in the U.S., China and the European Union begin scrutinizing the impact of the blockbuster deal on semiconductor industry competition and innovation, the deal has at the very least... Read more…

By George Leopold

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