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TeraGrid Enters Full Production Phase

Advanced cyberinfrastructure makes multiple resources available to the national science and engineering community.

PITTSBURGH,October 08, 2004 — The TeraGrid, the National Science Foundation’s multi-year effort to build a distributed national cyberinfrastructure, has now entered full production mode, providing a coordinated set of services for the nation’s science and engineering community. TeraGrid’s unified user support infrastructure and software environment allow users to access storage and information resources as well as over a dozen major computing systems via a single allocation, either as stand-alone resources or as components of a distributed application using Grid software capabilities.

“The Extensible Terascale Facility is a key milestone for the cyberinfrastructure of tomorrow,” said Sangtae Kim, director of the NSF’s Division of Shared Cyberinfrastructure. “NSF salutes the tremendous effort on the part of the dozens of staff at the nine ETF institutions to successfully complete construction and enter the project’s operational phase.”

“Through the TeraGrid partnership, we have built a distributed system of unprecedented scale,” said Charlie Catlett, TeraGrid project executive director and a senior fellow at the Computation Institute at Argonne National Laboratory. “This milestone is a testament to the expertise, innovation, hard work, and dedication of all the TeraGrid partners. The partnership among these sites is itself an extremely valuable resource, and one that will continue to yield benefits as the TeraGrid moves into its operational phase.”

Through its nine resource partner sites, the TeraGrid offers advanced computational, visualization, instrumentation, and data resources:

  • Argonne National Laboratory provides users with high-resolution rendering and remote visualization capabilities via a 1 teraflop IBM Linux cluster with parallel visualization hardware.
  • The Center for Advanced Computing Research (CACR) at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) focuses on providing online access to very large scientific data collections in astronomy and high energy physics, and application expertise in these fields, geophysics, and neutron science.
  • Indiana University and Purdue University together contribute more than 6 teraflops of computing capability, 400 terabytes of data storage capacity, visualization resources, access to life science data sets deriving from Indiana University’s Indiana Genomics Initiative, and a connection to the Purdue Terrestrial Observatory.
  • The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) offers 10 teraflops of capability computing through its Mercury IBM Linux cluster, which consists of 1,776 Itanium 2 processors. Mercury is the largest computational resource of the TeraGrid. The system at NCSA also includes 600 terabytes of secondary storage and 2 petabytes of archival storage capacity. In addition, the new SGI Altix SMP system with 1,024 Itanium 2 processors will become part of the TeraGrid.
  • With the completion of the new Atlanta TeraGrid hub and a 10-gigabit-per-second TeraGrid connection to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), users of ORNL’s neutron science facilities, such as the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) and the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS), will be able to utilize TeraGrid resources and services for the storage, distribution, analysis, and simulation of their experiments and data.
  • The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC), a lead computing site, provides computational power to researchers via its 3,000-processor HP AlphaServer system, TCS-1, which offers 6 teraflops of capability coupled uniquely to a 21-node visualization system. PSC also provides a 128-processor, 512-gigabyte shared-memory HP Marvel system, a 150-terabyte disk cache, and a mass-store system with a capacity of 2.4 petabytes.
  • The San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) leads the TeraGrid data and knowledge management effort by deploying a data-intensive IBM Linux cluster based on Intel Itanium family processors, with a peak performance of just over 4 teraflops and 540 terabytes of network disk storage. In addition, a portion of SDSC’s DataStar IBM 10-teraflops supercomputer is assigned to the TeraGrid. An IBM HPSS archive currently stores a petabyte of data. A next-generation Sun Microsystems high-end server helps provide data services.
  • The Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) offers users high-end computers capable of 6.2 teraflops, a terascale visualization system, a 2.8-petabyte mass storage system, and access to geoscience and biological morphology data collections.

Through these nine sites, the TeraGrid provides 40 teraflops of computing power with petabyte-scale data storage and operates over a 40 gigabit-per-second network.

Scientists in a wide range of fields have already begun using the TeraGrid:

  • The Center for Imaging Science (CIS) at Johns Hopkins University has deployed its shape-based morphometric tools on the TeraGrid to support the Biomedical Informatics Research Network, a National Institutes of Health initiative involving 15 universities and 22 research groups whose work centers on brain imaging of human neurological disorders and associated animal models. Initial studies have mapped hippocampal data from Alzheimer’s, semantic dementia, and control subjects using these tools.
  • Harvey Newman, a particle physicist from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, was granted the single largest TeraGrid allocation to investigate the discovery potential of CERN’s CMS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider, in particular the efficiency of detecting the decay of the Higgs boson into two energetic photons. The work involves generating, simulating, reconstructing, and analyzing tens of millions of proton-proton collision, and deriving limits on the efficiency for discoveries by the CMS collaboration in the early years of running at the LHC, which starts operating in 2007.
  • Michael Norman, an astrophysicist at the University of California, San Diego, is conducting detailed simulations of the evolution of the universe. He has ported his “Enzo” code to the TeraGrid and will follow the evolution of the cosmos from shortly after the Big Bang, through the formation of gas clouds and galaxies, all the way to the present era.
  • Klaus Schulten, a biophysicist at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, used terascale massive parallelism on the TeraGrid for major advances in the understanding of membrane proteins. He is also harnessing the TeraGrid to attack problems in the mechanisms of bioenergetic proteins, the recognition and regulation of DNA by proteins, the molecular basis of lipid metabolism, and the mechanical properties of cells.

The Coordinated TeraGrid Software and Services (CTSS) software suite is used to provide a common user environment across the heterogeneous resources in TeraGrid as well as to support Grid-based capabilities such as certificate-based single sign-on and distributed applications management via the Globus Toolkit. A distributed accounting infrastructure, developed at NCSA, supports general allocations that can be redeemed at any TeraGrid resource, and a software and services verification and validation system, developed at SDSC, provides continuous monitoring of the software infrastructure across all sites. With integration of the TCS-1 system, PSC spearheaded TeraGrid expansion to interoperability, a Grid environment integrating heterogeneous system architectures, and TeraGrid now encompasses a flexible array of systems.

Over the next several years, the collaborative TeraGrid team will enhance and expand the services offered to scientific users. Future features the team plans to add include improved meta-scheduling and co-scheduling services, a global file system to facilitate the use of data at distributed sites, and “Science Gateways,” including Web-based portals that provide a user-friendly interface to the TeraGrid’s services and meet the unique needs of specific research communities.

For more information on the TeraGrid, go to

See also:
First Phase of TeraGrid Goes into Production
Anglo-American Team Gets Big Results with TeraGrid


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Michael Schneider
Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center

Trish Barker
National Center for Supercomputing Applications

Jim Bottum
Purdue University

Sarah Emery Bunn

Thom Dunning
Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Greg Lund
San Diego Supercomputer Center

Mary Spada
Argonne National Laboratory

Merry Maisel
Texas Advanced Computing Center

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