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Partnership of supercomputing centers announces NSF XD TIS award

Trish Barker, NCSA

Faith Singer-Villalobos, TACC, 512.232.5771
Michael Schneider, PSC, 412.268.4960
Scott Jones, NICS, 865.574.6944

NCSA, TACC, PSC and NICS to offer first dedicated technology insertion service for the “new” TeraGrid

A team of four U.S. advanced computing centers today announced that it has begun work on the National Science Foundation (NSF) eXtreme Digital (XD) Technology Insertion Service (TIS) award, an $8.9 million, five-year project commissioned by the Office of Cyberinfrastructure (OCI) to evaluate and recommend new technologies for high-performance computing systems and other resources as part of the NSF TeraGrid and its follow-on initiative, XD.

The eXtreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) TIS team includes the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC), Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC), and the National Institute for Computational Sciences (NICS). Since 2005, these centers have contributed to open science and research education by hosting some of the largest HPC resources on the TeraGrid and providing expert technical staff.

Barry Schneider, NSF TeraGrid program director, said, “The XD program represents the next step in the development and deployment of an advanced cyberinfrastructure for the U.S. scientific and engineering community. The XD program will be replacing the NSF TeraGrid program which provides management of the NSF high-performance computing facilities. The XSEDE TIS team will be responsible for testing and evaluating the software which will become part of the fabric of the new XD program.”

In April 2011, NSF OCI will officially transition from TeraGrid to XD. The XSEDE TIS award is part of the phased transition process that is taking place now and through April 2011. It plays a critical role in XD’s overall mission to accelerate open scientific discovery and to enable researchers to conduct transformational science with next-generation, high-end digital services.

John Towns, TeraGrid Forum chair and principal investigator (PI) on the XSEDE TIS grant, said, “The community will see a coordinated effort to evaluate the most promising technologies and make recommendations to integrate the most fitting technologies into the XD cyberinfrastructure. This award will ensure a coherent approach to leverage the rapidly evolving software environment and hardware capabilities that make the integrated, distributed environment of resources and services collectively more powerful.”

In addition to sustaining continuous improvement in XD’s architecture and services, the XSEDE TIS team will develop and maintain an open, web-accessible database of technology projects for XD sites and users. This database will enable new opportunities for collaboration, research and development, and outreach. The XSEDE TIS team will also operate the Technology Evaluation Laboratory to ensure that proposed technology changes are thoroughly tested before being recommended for insertion into the production infrastructure.

“The majority of effort with the Track 2 and similar awards goes toward operating the resources and supporting the users of the resources. Now, NSF is taking a more formal, multi-year approach to technology insertion—to tracking the best technologies in the community and making sure they are evaluated for appropriateness, reliability, effectiveness, and usability,” said Jay Boisseau, director of TACC and co-PI on the XSEDE TIS grant.

Ralph Roskies, scientific director at PSC and co-PI on the XSEDE TIS grant, said, “The experienced personnel of NCSA, TACC, PSC and NICS have a long history of collaboration. These centers are complemented by the University of Virginia team whose staff brings more than 50 years of combined experience in large scale parallel and distributed systems in support of scientific computing.”

“We believe that this award is a step toward a more continuous and successful model for the NSF supercomputing resources. Tracking and inserting new technologies and services will help ensure that the NSF meets its long-term goal of providing the best possible HPC environment for its researchers,” said Phil Andrews, project director for NICS and co-PI on the XSEDE TIS grant.

For up-to-date information, including a TeraGrid to XD transition schedule and answers to frequently asked questions, please visit:

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