NSF offers researchers high-performance computing time on advanced computing network

NSF opens new round of TeraGrid supercomputing applications

Researchers now can apply for one-year grants of time on the National Science Foundation’s TeraGrid high performance computing infrastructure, which includes access to some of the world’s most powerful supercomputers.

Applications must be submitted by July 15 for the next quarterly round for grants, which will run from October through September 2011. Researchers will have access not only to supercomputing resources, but also to storage and advanced user support. Applications should be submitted online at https://pops-submit.teragrid.org/.

TeraGrid is a partnership between NSF’s Office of Cyberinfrastructure and 11 government, educational and research facilities that make computing time available on 15 supercomputing platforms. It is supported by grid software and high performance network connections, and provides data storage and management resources in addition to access to the computers themselves. Total TeraGrid resources now exceed 2 petaflops (a petaflops is 1,000 trillion floating point operations per second) combined processing power and 50 petabytes of online and archival storage.

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TeraGrid allocates more than 1 billion processor hours to researchers each year. Although no project will have access to the entire system, TeraGrid allocations provide access to high-powered computing resources not readily available at many institutions. Requests are evaluated quarterly by the TeraGrid Resource Allocation Committee, which will make its next allocations in September. In June the committee awarded 315 million processor hours and one petabyte of storage to 105 research teams.

NSF now is transitioning to the next phase of TeraGrid, called eXtreme Digital, or XD. This phase is intended to provide significantly enhanced high-performance computing resources and data services, with capabilities beyond those of existing platforms. A competition for the management of XD now is in process and a new administrative model for the system will begin in April. The winning XD management team will be required to provide continuity of service between TeraGrid and XD so that researchers using the systems will be able to continue work through the transition.

In the current round of allocations time is available on 15 supercomputing systems, including TeraGrid’s two largest. These are Ranger at the Texas Advanced Computing Center and Kraken at the National Institute for Computational Sciences. It also includes the two newest TeraGrid systems, Nautilus at NICS and Longhorn at TACC, which are remote visualization and data analysis systems. Dash, the San Diego Supercomputer Center’s precursor to the Gordon Track 2 system, is available for the evaluation of flash memory and vSMP software. Purdue University also offers Wispy, a cluster running KVM and Nimbus cloud software, supporting virtual machines with real Internet addresses.

By October 1 the National Center for Supercomputing Applications will introduce Ember, a shared memory supercomputer. With a peak performance of 16 teraflops, Ember doubles the power of its predecessor, Cobalt.

Three TeraGrid platforms were decommissioned in March are not available in the current round of resource grants. They were Big Red e1350 at Indiana University, the NCSA Mercury IA-64 Cluster and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center BigBen XT3. More information about the TeraGrid systems is available in the resource catalog at www.teragrid.org/web/user-support/resources.

TeraGrid and Indiana University also are introducing FutureGrid, an experimental cloud test bed that is available for early adopters developing new grid and cloud application frameworks. FutureGrid is a proving ground for applications in a variety of environments. Access and accounts are managed online by Indiana University and information about the system is available at http://futuregrid.org/.


About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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