Press Archive

New Grid and Tools Deployed Across NPACI Partnership

NPACI-Grid and NPACKage Software Enable Higher Levels of Scientific Research and Boost Global Grid Infrastructure

Published 08/12/2003

The National Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (NPACI) has announced the deployment of the NPACI Grid, a prototype for Cyberinfrastructure, across the partnership's main resource sites. NPACI Grid is a production, heterogeneous national Grid consisting of interoperable software, scientific applications, and hardware resources located at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC), the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) in Austin, TX, and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. The NPACI-Grid will soon be deployed at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA as well.

The NPACI Grid's goal is to provide increased access and capability to a national science and engineering research community via the hardware resources and software efforts of the NPACI partnership. The NPACI Grid unifies mature software infrastructure efforts through the development of the interoperable, tested and hardened NPACKage deployed at all resource sites on the NPACI Grid. Applications will use NPACKage services and software to target NPACI resources individually and collectively enabling a new generation of scientific discoveries.

The NPACI Grid complements the National Science Foundation's NSF Middleware Initiative (NMI) and TeraGrid/ETF project. All such efforts provide key building blocks for Cyberinfrastructure ? the comprehensive and evolutionary computational, data management and human infrastructure necessary to support advances in science and engineering. NPACI partners are working to ensure that NPACI Grid applications and NPACKage software will interoperate with NMI software and complement TeraGrid/ETF environments so that national Grid efforts can be integrated.

In conjunction with the deployment of the NPACI Grid, NPACI also is announcing NPACKage 1.1, a collection of 14 mature software components developed by partnership participants and national collaborators. NPACKage is deployed across all major NPACI compute, data and networking resources to form a uniform software environment for the NPACI Grid. Information on NPACKage can be found at http://npackage.npaci.edu.

"The NPACI Grid unifies NPACI infrastructure efforts and provides critical experience with Grids aggregated from existing resources, commodity networks, and mature software and applications," said Dr. Fran Berman, director of NPACI and the San Diego Supercomputer Center. "The NPACI Grid, TeraGrid/ETF, and other national Grid efforts are providing vital experience key to the development of an integrated information (Cyber-)infrastructure."

The hardware resources comprising the NPACI Grid belong to four different administrative domains, each with their own rules, regulations, requirements, and accounting procedures. The resources are heterogeneous and distributed: a 1.7 Teraflop AIX cluster, Blue Horizon, at SDSC, a 435 Gflop AMD based Linux cluster at the University of Michigan and three large shared-memory server nodes at TACC delivering 1160 Gflops.

NPACKage components are based on mature software from NPACI partners and national collaborators and include

  • The Globus Toolkit™, the de facto standard for grid computing and an open-source collection of modular technologies that simplifies collaboration across dynamic, multi-institutional virtual organizations.
  • GSI-OpenSSH, a modified version of OpenSSH that adds support for GSI authentication, providing a single sign-on remote login capability for the grid.
  • Network Weather Service, a distributed system that periodically monitors and dynamically forecasts the performance various network and computational resources can deliver over a given time interval.
  • DataCutter, a core set of data services, on top of which application developers can implement more application-specific services or combine with existing grid services such as metadata management, resource management, and authentication services.
  • Ganglia, a scalable distributed monitoring system for high-performance computing systems such as clusters and grids.
  • LAPACK for Clusters (LFC), a package that brings the performance of ScaLAPACK and the expertise of advance performance tuning to an average user familiar with the LAPACK interface.
  • MyProxy, a credential repository for the grid.
  • GridConfig, software for generating and managing configuration files across a large number of components in a centrally controlled information system.
  • Condor-G, software which lets users submit jobs into a queue, maintain detailed job logs, manage input and output files, and serve as a comprehensive job/resource management system.
  • Storage Resource Broker (SRB), client-server middleware providing a uniform interface for connecting heterogeneous data resources over a network and accessing replicated data sets.
  • Grid Portal Toolkit (GridPort), a collection of technologies used for developing application-specific, browser-based interfaces to the grid.
  • MPICH-G2, a grid-enabled version of MPI message-passing library based on Globus. MPICH-G2 allows users to couple machines, of different architectures, to un MPI applications.
  • AppLeS Parameter Sweep Template (APST), software automating the execution of parameter sweep applications with potentially large data sets over grid resources.
  • Kx509, a standalone client program that acquires a short-term X.509 certificate from the KCA for a Kerberos-authenticated user.

NPACKage builds on top of the common infrastructure supplied by the GridsCenter Software Suite as part of the NSF Middleware Initiative (NMI). The NPACKage team has assembled a collection of versions that is regularly tested for interoperability on both internal and production systems. In addition, user support for NPACKage has been integrated with the NPACI trouble-ticket system to provide a quick turnaround to user problems and questions.

"We are focusing on hardening, testing, documentation and user support with NPACKage," says Berman. "The success of Grid efforts depends on the ability of users to get real work done and to exploit the capability and capacity of the underlying resources."

"NPACKage complements NMI and provides one-stop shopping for important NPACI software packages," said Carl Kesselman, chief software architect, NPACI. "Together, NPACKage and NMI provide a significant boost to the global grid infrastructure, including the TeraGrid."

NPACKage and NPACI Grid Applications

NPACKage is already being used in several key application projects. One such application project is headed up by a team of NPACI partners including Joel Saltz at Ohio State University. The team is attempting to implement an application which discovers optimal production schedules in oil reservoirs. The complex application requires coupling of simulations, sophisticated optimization procedures, and field measurements. The researchers are using the DataCutter, NWS, Globus, and SRB components of NPACKage. Globus is used for resource allocation and authentication; SRB is used for remote file access across multiple sites; NWS is used for resource monitoring for effective placement of data processing operations on NPACI storage and compute clusters; and DataCutter is used to implement distributed data querying, filtering, and user-defined processing of data. For more information go to: http://npacigrid.npaci.edu/case_studies_geosciences.html

Another such application project focuses on Telescience for Advanced Tomography Applications project and is headed up by Mark Ellisman at the University of California, San Diego. The Telescience project is merging technologies for remote control, Grid computing, and federated digital libraries of multiscale, cell-structure data. The project has developed a transparent integration of NPACI technologies, resources, and applications into a high-throughput, web-based solution for performing end-to-end electron tomography for the biological researcher.

Part of the project has been to develop a Telescience "Portal", an interface that allows users to access controlling instruments remotely, manage data, and control batch jobs with a single login and password. Key features of the Portal include personalized user information, collaboration tools-such as chat and shared white boards, automatic storage of data with the Storage Resource Broker, and job tracking tools. For more information go to: http://npacigrid.npaci.edu/case_studies_telesciences.html

Useful links:

Information on the NPACI Grid, including a Getting Started Guide, is available at: http://npacigrid.npaci.edu and http://npacigrid.npaci.edu/user_getting_started.html. Details on NPACKage are available at: http://npackage.npaci.edu

About NPACI

NPACI (www.npaci.edu) is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and is a national partnership of 41 universities and research institutions as well as international affiliate partners. The Leading Edge Site of NPACI is the San Diego Supercomputer Center and the Principal Investigator is Dr. Fran Berman. The mission of NPACI is to advance science by creating a ubiquitous, continuous, and pervasive national computational infrastructure for the 21st century that builds on dramatic advances in information technology to enable advances in science and engineering.

About SDSC

The San Diego Supercomputer Center (www.sdsc.edu) is an organized research unit of UCSD and the leading-edge site of NPACI. SDSC is led by Dr. Fran Berman, SDSC Director, first Endowed Chair in High Performance Computing at UCSD's Jacobs School of Engineering and Professor of computer science and engineering at UCSD. SDSC's mission is to develop, use and innovate technology to advance science, and to provide leadership both nationally and internationally in computing, data management, biosciences, and other areas. SDSC is funded by NSF and other federal agencies, the state of California, the University of California, and private organizations.


Media Contact:
Greg Lund
San Diego Supercomputer Center
858-534-8314
greg@sdsc.edu