Purdue gets 5.3 million for TeraGrid operation, management, and user support

July 13, 2006

Purdue University's Rosen Center for Advanced Computing will receive $5.3 million as part of a National Science Foundation five-year, $150 million award to operate and enhance the Extensible Terascale Facility — also called TeraGrid.

TeraGrid, which has been built over the last four years, is the world's largest, most comprehensive "distributed cyberinfrastructure" for open scientific research. The TeraGrid consists of an integrated system of supercomputers, sophisticated data storage systems and instruments distributed across the country and linked by advanced networking to enable researchers to solve complex scientific problems. "The National Science Foundation has recently elevated its Office of Cyberinfrastructure to the highest levels of the foundation, and TeraGrid is the centerpiece of its cyberinfrastructure program," said James Bottum, vice president of information technology at Purdue, or ITaP. "Purdue is playing a key role in terms of determining the design of the nation's 21st century cyberinfrastructure, which is very exciting."

NSF announced the award this week.

The TeraGrid will provide access to Purdue resources, such as the "nanoHUB," a system developed by the university that currently enables about 5,000 researchers from around the world to explore nanotechnology for research and education. The nanoHUB is a computer grid that delivers advanced nanotechnology simulations to users ranging from high school students to professional scientists and engineers. The system is operated as part of the Network for Computational Nanotechnology, based at Purdue's Discovery Park and funded by the National Science Foundation. The Rosen Center is making available to researchers 11 teraflops of computing power — the equivalent of 11 trillion math calculations per second. Researchers at the Rosen Center are providing the Purdue computing resources to TeraGrid users through a new concept they developed called "community clusters," said Gary R. Bertoline, director of the Rosen Center and associate vice president for discovery resources at ITaP.

Community clusters enable researchers on the TeraGrid to access Purdue computing resources that are included in "condor pools," through which idle workstations are harnessed to work on projects. Previously the condor system has been limited to users at the same institution, but now the community clusters open up the idle computers to researchers at other institutions.

"We have taken a first step towards true resource sharing and grid computing by deploying a condor job manager for TeraGrid users," said Sebastien Goasguen, senior research scientist and the TeraGrid site lead at Purdue. "We believe that significant scientific discovery and learning can be enabled through the use of our community clusters."

Researchers and educators around the country can now access a range of computing resources that will accelerate advances in science and engineering, said Arden L. Bement Jr., director of the National Science Foundation. "Many new users from a range of scientific communities will now have access to sophisticated information-technology applications and computational tools," said Bement, who has been on leave from Purdue since 2001 as the David A. Ross Distinguished Professor of Nuclear Engineering and is former head of the university's School of Nuclear Engineering. "Over time, these applications will be customized to the needs of the individual or community."

Purdue and Indiana University previously created their portions of the network linkages to the TeraGrid through a joint project called the IP-grid, which is enabling researchers at Purdue, IU Bloomington and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis to collaborate with their colleagues across the nation on projects requiring advanced high-performance computing.

The NSF award will provide funding for operation, management and user support of TeraGrid resources at the eight resource-provider sites, which are: Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago: Indiana University: the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; the Oak Ridge National Laboratory; the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center; Purdue; the San Diego Supercomputer Center; and the Texas Advanced Computing Center.

"TeraGrid enables scientists and engineers to both be more productive in their research and education as well as enjoy doing the work with cutting-edge tools while working closely with peers around the world,” said Guy Almes, a program manager at the National Science Foundation who oversees the project.

Originally posted: July 13, 2006