This spring, the NPACI Executive Committee recruited two new members. Jean-Bernard Minster of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) assumed leadership of the Earth Systems Science thrust area, and Russ Altman was named to head the Molecular Science thrust area.
Minster replaced Freeman Gilbert of SIO, who stepped down in April. Altman takes over from Peter Taylor, a computational chemist at SDSC and NPACI's Chief Applications Scientist who had been the acting thrust area leader. Taylor remains Chief Applications Scientist.
To allow users of NSF-funded supercomputer facilities to continue their computational research, SDSC received 16 terabytes of data in March, including more than three terabytes of data over the vBNS.
The massive data transfers from the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC) and the Cornell Theory Center (CTC) will allow researchers to continue their projects on NPACI's and NCSA's high-performance computers. More than eight terabytes of data from PSC have been transported across the vBNS network, including 1.1 terabytes in a single weekend.
"Moving so large a volume of data from point to point across a wide-area network and across the country is not an everyday affair, but we have the ability to do it today," said Phil Andrews, SDSC systems manager. A joint paper on the file transfer process and its results will be submitted by PSC, NCSA, and SDSC for presentation at the SC98 conference in Orlando this November.
The vBNS also accelerated the process of moving and installing the CTC High Performance Storage System (HPSS) archive at SDSC. "We received three gigabytes of HPSS metadata on March 19 over the vBNS and started creating the CTC West system Friday afternoon," said Michael Gleicher, SDSC's HPSS expert. "The metadata import was completed by Monday morning, and I was able to start actively working on setting things up for our site. The vBNS transfer of metadata saved us several days."
The bulk of the CTC data arrived in two shipments on 5,000 tapes, moving the 13-terabyte archive from Ithaca to San Diego. The one ton of tapes arrived March 20 and March 21. Users have been able to access the CTC data since March 30.
NLANR Group at SDSC Awarded $2.08 Million to Analyze Network Traffic
The NSF awarded $2.08 million to UC San Diego to monitor and analyze the continent-wide research network that is a key component of the next generation of Internet technologies. The award establishes the Measurement and Operations Analysis Team (MOAT), located at SDSC, as a formal group within the National Laboratory for Applied Networking Research (NLANR) to analyze network traffic patterns and traffic behavior, evaluate service models, and conduct research to enhance the NSF's very high performance Backbone Network Service (vBNS).
"We would like to understand the workload--the traffic signature--of the network," said Hans-Werner Braun, principal investigator of the NLANR/MOAT effort. "Understanding the intricacies of Internet traffic patterns and characterizing workload is fundamental to our ability to design and implement next-generation networks."
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has entered into a partnership with the Distributed Object Computation Testbed (DOCT), a project led by SDSC, to test high-performance computing solutions for managing the life cycle of large quantities of records data. DOCT is funded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
"All agencies need to address the challenge of life-cycle management of records in an automated environment," said Archivist of the United States John Carlin. "This is a great opportunity to apply information technology to improve both internal processes and services to customers. We are interested in whether the technical approaches explored in the DOCT project could be applied throughout the federal government in managing records as well as specifically within NARA to address some of the challenges of archival preservation and access to electronic records."
NARA's involvement with DOCT is intended to solve its critical need to develop better ways to preserve historically valuable electronic records of the federal government. The DOCT testbed provides an infrastructure on which to test advanced technologies for preserving electronic records.
As part of an ongoing collaboration with Sun Microsystems, NPACI has installed a Sun Enterprise Server 10000, commonly known as the Starfire system, at SDSC. This system will be used to serve financial databases, access large scientific databases and digital libraries, and provide mid-range computing support to a variety of NPACI collaborations.
"The Starfire has proven itself to be a formidable data-handling engine," said Mike Vildibill, SDSC's associate director for computing resources. "We are eager to integrate the Starfire into SDSC's data-intensive infrastructure."
NPACI's Starfire system has 16 UltraSPARC II processors running at 333 MHz (scalable to 64 processors), 8 GB of memory, and 100 GB of disk. The Starfire also offers "domain partitioning," which allows the system to be split into several independent systems, as well as hot-swappable parts for correcting hardware problems without interrupting users of the system.
On April 25, 1998, SDSC accepted delivery of a two-processor Multithreaded Architecture (MTA) computer system built by Tera Computer Company of Seattle. The computer uses a revolutionary internal architecture, and the system at SDSC is the world's first production unit of the machine.
"We have achieved some encouraging results on the one-processor MTA system since December," said Wayne Pfeiffer, deputy director at SDSC and principal investigator for the MTA evaluation projects. "We look forward to working with larger MTA systems and verifying the performance on real-world applications." SDSC expects to make the MTA available to a limited number of additional scientists at UC San Diego and elsewhere later this year.
To leverage international developments and to facilitate collaboration among researchers globally, NPACI has established an International Affiliates Program with four charter organizations.
"I think that international programs like the NPACI International Affiliates Program are going to be an increasingly important part of PACI," said Steve Elbert, NSF PACI Program Director. "The rest of the world is looking to the United States in this area."
Four international universities are members of the International Affiliates Program: the Advanced Computational Systems Cooperative Research Center (ACSys) at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra, Australia; the Center for Research on Parallel Computation and Supercomputers (CPS) in Naples, Italy; the Computer Engineering Department of the University of Lecce, Italy; and the Parallel Computing Center at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, Sweden.
NPACI has formed the first Strategic Applications Collaboration (SAC) teams to enhance the effectiveness of computational science and engineering research. By working closely with key research projects, members of SDSC's HPC Consulting and Science groups will help develop general solutions for the benefit of all NPACI users.
"The goal of these collaborations is to accelerate the researchers' efforts by using resources most effectively and enable new science on relatively short time scales," said Jay Boisseau, the NPACI Strategic Applications Coordinator. "We hope to discover general solutions that will benefit not only the selected researchers but also their entire academic communities and all HPC users."
Candidates for the program are chosen to ensure that SAC teams achieve significant results and that the methods and results are recognized in the academic and HPC user communities.
Two members of SDSC's Interaction Technologies group and two Sun Microsystems engineers will present one of the first courses in Java 3D, a programming interface for developing 3-D graphics applications in Java, at SIGGRAPH 98 in Orlando, Florida, July 19-24, 1998.
Organized by Henry Sowizral, a senior staff engineer at Sun and the chief architect of the Java 3D API, the full-day course will be taught July 21 by Sowizral; SDSC principal scientist David Nadeau; Michael Deering, a distinguished engineer at Sun and co-architect of Java 3D; and SDSC principal scientist Michael Bailey. Nadeau has also been one of the librarians of the SDSC-maintained Java 3D Repository.
The NPACI User HotPage is designed to increase the effectiveness of users of NPACI's HPC resources, according to Jay Boisseau, leader of scientific computing support activities for NPACI.
"We don't want operational details that can be easily automated to get in the way of anyone's scientific work," Boisseau said. "And we do want to draw together all of the operational services so that the users see NPACI as a unified entity."
The HotPage features links to all NPACI user documentation, application-appropriate technical documents, news items of interest, training and consulting, data on platforms and applications, and information about allocations and accounts. Users can also find the real-time operational status of computational resources, access the platforms' messages-of-the-day, and display current queue information.