NSF expands computing grid project

NSF expands computing grid project

The National Science Foundation is expanding its distributed grid-computing project to encompass a fifth high-performance computing center.

As part of the $35 million extension, the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center will get a high-speed connection to the TeraGrid's 40-Gbps optical network, said Dan Reed, director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications in Champaign, Ill.

NCSA, the San Diego Supercomputer Center, the Energy Department's Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois and the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena are already part of the grid project, first announced in August 2001 [see story at www.gcn.com/20_24/news/16873-1.html].

When it goes into operation in the third quarter of 2003, the TeraGrid will demonstrate the concurrent use of distributed systems, Reed said. For example, a researcher could mine data at the San Diego center, feed the data into a large simulation at NCSA and visualize the model's results at a third high-performance computing center.

The high-speed backplane of the network is now operating, but the project is still awaiting new Linux clusters at the participating computing centers, Reed said. The TeraGrid project includes funding for clusters based on the 64-bit Intel Itanium 2 processor and on the not-yet-released third-generation Itanium, code-named Madison.

One reason the grid has taken two years of construction time is that project researchers have been waiting for vendors to produce hardware that meets the grid's needs.

'We were looking ahead a generation' to predict what technology would be available a year ahead of the project's start date, Reed said.

TeraGrid participants plan to demonstrate several applications on prototype hardware at next month's SC2002 conference in Baltimore, Reed said.


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