Projects in Scientific Computing

Foreword from the Directors

Ralph Roskies and Michael Levine, Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center.

The Terascale Computing System is in, up and running. Installation was completed on time (see p. 4), and preliminary testing shows actual performance that exceeds four teraflops. This most powerful of machines dedicated to open research is already demonstrating the extraordinary capability that will enable a new scale of applications for the nation's research community.

On-time installation represents an outstanding effort from Compaq Computer Corporation. It is Compaq's largest system to date, incorporating multiple new elements, and the install effort involved many dozens of people, at multiple U.S. sites, Scotland and Ireland. The very substantial initial allocations for this system testify to the large number of researchers eager to use it. Many thanks, Compaq, on behalf of PSC and the entire research community.

During the past year, along with deploying this unprecedented system, PSC has strengthened its research partnership with the National Energy Technology Laboratory (see p. 12). Our biomedical initiative is opening new pathways for the use of high-performance computing in the life sciences (see p. 8). Our networking group has gained further national prominence through its leadership role in the Web100 project (see p. 6). We are contributing to regional and statewide high-technology development (see pp. 10-13). Members of the scientific staff have won support from such competitive programs as the Department of Energy's Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing, the Department of Defense's Programming Environment and Training and NSF's Information Technology Research.

The research articles in this booklet illustrate the range and depth of work carried out at PSC and exemplify, with a small sampling, the kind of contribution to knowledge that will be enabled by the Terascale system. Four of the projects described here represent the fruits of time on the 256-processor prototype Terascale. In astrophysics, availability of this system enabled the most exacting simulation of star formation yet undertaken (p. 14), and the results provide the first ever picture from a computational simulation of emergent disk-like cores, the progenitors of "proplyds" seen by the Hubble Space Telescope.

The prototype Terascale also made possible new insight into an important class of proteins, the mechanosensitive ion channels (p. 20), and it made possible the most detailed simulation to date of anesthetic drugs acting within a cellular membrane (p. 24). Computational fluid-dynamics is a proven arena when it comes to computational simulation, and there also -- in high-performance aircraft design -- the Terascale system has shown (p. 30) that this level of computational capability will lead to significantly improved accuracy and reliability in aircraft structural design.

We gratefully acknowledge our support from the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Center for Research Resources of the National Institutes of Health, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and many others. We look forward to seeing how the TCS will further unleash the creative potential of our nation's scientists and engineers.

The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center is a joint effort of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh together with the Westinghouse Electric Company. It was established in 1986 and is supported by several federal agencies, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and private industry.

© Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center.