Purdue to help bring advanced digital resources, services and expertise to nation’s researchers

July 27, 2011

Purdue is partnering with 16 institutions to build the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE), the most advanced, powerful, and robust collection of integrated digital resources and digital services for research in the world.

Scientists, engineers and other researchers use these resources and services — things like supercomputers, collections of data, networked instruments and new software tools — to propel discovery and improve lives. The tools are a crucial part of research in fields like medicine, genomics, epidemiology, earthquake engineering, materials science, astronomy, biology and many more.

“Enabling discovery through enhanced researcher productivity is our goal, and XSEDE’s ultimate reason for being,” said Barry Schneider, a program director in the Office of Cyberinfrastructure at the National Science Foundation. NSF will fund the XSEDE project for five years at $121 million. XSEDE was announced Monday, July 25.

For Purdue faculty and their students, “Purdue’s participation gives the University a group of experts on campus to help them tap the plethora of research resources available through XSEDE,” said ITaP’s Carol Song, the principal investigator for the XSEDE project at Purdue.

Interaction by Purdue IT staff supporting XSEDE with researchers using it at other institutions also should open avenues for new collaborations among Purdue’s researchers and researchers elsewhere, along with new funding opportunities.

In addition, Purdue’s participation will involve Purdue graduate and undergraduate students in activities like building software tools for, and helping support users of, XSEDE.

XSEDE will only further enhance the research computing resources available to Purdue faculty, already ranked near the top among U.S. academic institutions.

“Purdue’s participation in the XSEDE project benefits research nationally, but it also benefits our faculty by helping build a more knowledgeable research IT staff that can assist Purdue researchers more effectively,” said John Campbell, the associate vice president who leads researching computing for ITaP. “That’s true not only in using the array of resources and services available through XSEDE but in using our considerable campus cyberinfrastructure, too.”

XSEDE will replace and expand the TeraGrid project that started a decade ago. More than 10,000 scientists used the TeraGrid to complete thousands of research projects, at no cost to those researchers.

Building on the NSF’s TeraGrid program, XSEDE will encompass a broader set of cyberinfrastructure resources, beyond extreme high-end supercomputing resources, and an expanded partnership that includes 17 institutions with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications leading the collaboration. Purdue will play a role in XSEDE similar to the one it played in the TeraGrid.

Purdue will lead a “Campus Champions” program designed to expand and diversify XSEDE’s user base by recruiting and helping train and support local experts and advocates on campuses nationwide. The TeraGrid Campus Champions Program led by Purdue resulted in a network of 127 champions being recruited at 96 institutions. New under the XSEDE Campus Champions Program, Purdue will provide a liaison to the Open Science Grid (OSG) to assist Campus Champions and researchers, faculty, IT staff and students at their institutions in utilizing OSG’s large array of existing resources and incorporating OSG tools into campus research and education endeavors.

Purdue IT staff members will also provide support and consulting for the campus champions and for researchers using XSEDE, including in some cases websites that make research software more widely available and easy to use, like the Community Climate System Modeling (CCSM) Portal Purdue built for the TeraGrid.

Purdue will continue to provide hardware resources, including a portion of the Steele supercomputer originally funded by the TeraGrid and the Purdue-based DiaGrid distributed computing system. DiaGrid, which won an international Campus Technology Innovators Award in 2010, links computers in offices, student computer labs and elsewhere at Purdue and on partner campuses to make nearly 42,000 processors available for research whenever the machines are idle. Purdue also is providing Wispy, an experimental cloud computing resource with an Amazon EC2 compatible interface.

Cyberinfrastructure refers to inter-linked systems of advanced computing power, networks, storage, graphic display capabilities, and remote instrumentation and sensors. It also includes related software services and virtual organizations for online collaboration and education, as well as people who support all that.

More information:


Writer: Greg Kline, science and technology writer, Information Technology at Purdue (ITaP), 765-494-8167 (office), 765-426-8545 (mobile), gkline@purdue.edu

Source: Carol Song, 765-496-7467, carolxsong@purdue.ed

Originally posted: July 27, 2011