THE NATION'S MOST POWERFUL SYSTEMS ON THE WORLD'S FASTEST NETWORK
On October 10, 2002, the National Science Foundation awarded $35 million to PSC and its two sister supercomputing centers to create new technological infrastructure that will harness the nation's most powerful computing systems for open research into a seamless grid.
The grant will tie LeMieux, PSC's terascale computing system - the most powerful system in the country committed to unclassified research - into the world's fastest network.
This optical-fiber, dedicated research network will transmit data at 30 gigabits per second, 500,000 times faster than typical Internet dial-up fast enough, for instance, to download 750 copies of the complete works of Shakespeare every second. For scientists, this means it would be possible to download the entire Protein Data Bank in less than a second or all the x-ray data at a large technological hospital in about half a minute.
With central hubs in Chicago and Los Angeles, the network will connect PSC and four other research centers in a unified national resource called the TeraGrid. Analogous to an electrical power grid, the TeraGrid will make computational power available to scientists and engineers nationwide, who will be able to submit their work without regard to geographical location of the systems.
PSC and other TeraGrid participants will develop software and policies to integrate resources so that a researcher needs to know only one protocol to log on, submit data, schedule jobs, etc. for computing systems, storage or other facilities at a TeraGrid site.
"This award will create the first wide-area computational grid encompassing terascale systems of differing architectures," said PSC scientific directors Mike Levine and Ralph Roskies. "This heterogeneity, which results from linking Pittsburgh and the TeraGrid, will enable new forms of science by coordinating resources at the five sites."
For PSC, the award boosts disk storage to 150 terabytes and it also augments LeMieux with a new system based on "Marvel" servers from Hewlett-Packard. This system, which employs the newest generation of Alpha processors, the EV7, will provide an unprecedented amount of memory and high-bandwidth interconnection among processors.
"The Marvel memory structure," said Levine and Roskies, "will provide an entirely new capability to the national research community. It will significantly boost certain kinds of research, including large-scale protein simulations and genome sequencing."
The TeraGrid will link PSC with two other NSF-supported supercomputing centers: the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at the University of California, San Diego. The TeraGrid will also include a specialized facility at the Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) for data visualization and a data collection and analysis environment at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).
Cyberinfrastructure: Impact on the Pittsburgh Region
"This investment in technological infrastructure builds on our recent successes," said Jared L. Cohon, president of Carnegie Mellon University. "PSC, home of the most powerful computing resource for public research in the country, will now be linked with other powerful systems on the fastest public research network. It's one more statement that the high-technology assets of this region are second to none."
"Basic research is the foundation of our national economic strength," said Mark Nordenberg, chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh. "Our region and our two great universities - Pitt and Carnegie Mellon - are leaders in scientific innovation, and this award to the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center both acknowledges and extends this leadership."
"The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center is well known for pushing the boundaries of computational science and advanced networks," said Congressman Mike Doyle (D, 18th Dist). "This expansion of technological infrastructure is good news for the country and for the Pittsburgh region because once again PSC is recognized as a leader in high-performance computing."
© Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center.