XSEDE 2.0 earns $110M NSF award to expand nation’s cyberinfrastructure ecosystem

Five-year award rewards national collaboration’s success in supporting advanced computational and data-enabled research and developing the Nation’s digital workforce

Aug. 23, 2016

The Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE), of which PSC is a leading partner, has been awarded a $110 million, five-year National Science Foundation (NSF) award to continue expanding access of advanced cyberinfrastructure resources to the nation’s scientists and engineers. The award announced today provides a continuity of services valuable to its large user community, in particular the coordination of resources and people that make the national cyberinfrastructure ecosystem so effective.

The XSEDE 2.0 project is led by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and 18 partner institutions across the nation. John Towns, executive director for science and technology at NCSA, is XSEDE’s principal investigator. Ralph Roskies, PSC scientific director, is co-principal investigator in XSEDE 2.0 and co-director of the project’s Expanded Collaborative Support Service (ECSS).

Last year, XSEDE provided computational and data services to more than 6,000 scientists, engineers and students, and supported more than 20,000 users through its web portal. Over the past four years, users have acknowledged support by XSEDE and its related computational resources in roughly 14,000 publications. Among these XSEDE-supported studies were efforts that confirmed the discovery of gravitational waves, developed high-resolution maps of the Arctic, uncovered the structure of HIV, and helped prevent injuries from car accidents.

“XSEDE’s success as a socio-technical ecosystem is the result of innovative collaboration and commitment from partner institutions, campus champions, and users across the Nation,” said Towns. “We are honored to have the NSF’s support in continuing our mission to make cyberinfrastructure accessible and easier to use in order to make impactful scientific discoveries and develop our nation’s digital workforce.”

The project is a central feature of NSF-supported cyberinfrastructure and aligns with the strategic objectives of the National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI) – a whole-of-government effort that fosters a coordinated Federal strategy in high performance computing (HPC) research and deployment. XSEDE 2.0’s role in NSCI will holistically expanding the capabilities and capacity of a robust and enduring national advanced computing infrastructure and contributing the learning and workforce development necessary to prepare our current and future researchers and the critical technical experts needed to support the research enterprise.

“XSEDE 2.0 will continue to expand access to NSF-funded cyberinfrastructure resources and services available to the science and engineering community across the nation,” said Irene Qualters, division director for the Division of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure (ACI) at NSF. “The Nation’s discovery and innovation enterprise requires a dynamic and highly interoperable ecosystem, anticipating and responding to new instruments, new computing capabilities, new research communities and new expertise. XSEDE 2.0 is a critical human component in NSF’s advanced computing infrastructure strategy, seeking to enable the broad and deep use of computational and data-intensive research to advance knowledge in all fields of study.”

Cyberinfrastructure refers to the advanced instruments, computing systems, data tools, software, networks, and people that collectively improve the research productivity of the nation’s computational scientists and engineers, enabling breakthroughs not otherwise possible. Critically important to cyberinfastructure is the increasingly dynamic interplay between these resources and human developers and users.

With Roskies, San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) Associate Director Nancy Wilkins-Diehr is co-principal investigator for XSEDE and co-director of ECSS. The service provides researchers with help in areas such as code optimization, optimizing complex workflows, porting to new system architectures, and the use of accelerators such as GPUs for detailed visualizations – all at no cost to their grants.

“ECSS brings a very diverse set of expertise to the table as the cyberinfrastructure needs of the research community and offerings of XSEDE Service Providers continue to expand,” Wilkins-Diehr said. “Reflecting the importance of this function, the ECSS budget is nearly one third that of the XSEDE program.”

“ECSS experts, many with advanced degrees in domain areas, are available to help users enhance their use of XSEDE resources whatever their level of HPC expertise,” Roskies added.

Texas Advanced Computing Center Director of Visualization and co-principal investigator for XSEDE, Kelly Gaither, leads Community Engagement & Enrichment (CEE), which focuses on user services, and engaging a new generation of diverse computational researchers. In addition to education, training, and outreach activities, CEE connects to campus research computing communities, to help researchers access both local and national resources.

“XSEDE is focused on diversity and inclusion to develop the next generation of advanced digital researchers and to foster innovative collaborations for scientific discoveries,” said Gaither. “Diversity reflects the educational, cultural, gender, and experiential makeup of our users, our students and our collaborators; inclusion reflects the quality of the experience that XSEDE provides once they are there.”

Among its critical functions, XSEDE 2.0 will:

  • Manage and deliver a set of common and coordinated services for a portfolio of supercomputers and high-end visualization and data-analysis resources across the country to address increasingly diverse scientific and engineering challenges.
  • Manage the allocation process by which researchers access advanced computing resources, including continuing to improve and innovate this process in alignment with new research access workflows and new resources.
  • Build on the XSEDE tradition of outstanding user services, and engage a new generation of diverse computational researchers; in addition to education, training, and outreach activities, connect to campus research computing communities, to help researchers access both local and national resources.
  • Offer Extended Collaborative Support Services, which pairs XSEDE computational or software engineering experts with domain scientists to advance a project or develop a tool needed to advance research.
  • Continue to improve and operate an integrated advanced computing infrastructure of national scale, providing “one-stop-shop” experience for users across the XSEDE-coordinated cyberinfrastructure ecosystem.

Students and researchers interested in obtaining access to advanced digital resources and support from XSEDE 2.0 program can learn more and register here.

Read the NSF announcement here.