International conference a showcase for Purdue's economical research technologies

November 9, 2010

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University is using the world's largest supercomputing conference to showcase its technologies that make more research computing power available for less money, enlist idle office and lab computers for research, and make computational research tools easier to use.

The projects - the Community Cluster Program, DiaGrid and HUBzero - have earned Purdue a reputation for developing economical technology for university research and education. The technology will be highlighted in the Purdue booth at the SC10 conference in New Orleans. The conference runs Monday (Nov. 15) through Nov. 19.

In addition, the Purdue SC10 booth will provide information to potential students and employees. More than 10,000 people from all 50 states and 71 countries attended the supercomputing conference in 2009. The booth is sponsored by Information Technology at Purdue (ITaP), the university's central information technology organization.

HUBzero powers nanoHUB.org and more than two dozen other Web-based hubs for research collaboration. NanoHUB is an international resource for nanotechnology theory, simulation and education with more than 150,000 users.

Hubs now link nearly a half million researchers, practitioners and students focused on assistive technologies for people with disabilities; cancer care; global engineering education; managing parks; simulating volcanoes; developing earthquake-resistant buildings and bridges; and more.

The hub software makes sharing and using real computational research tools online about as easy as posting and playing a YouTube video. HUBzero's collaboration features are something like a super-charged Facebook for researchers. A new open source version of HUBzero was released this year.

Purdue is showcasing a new hub at SC10 designed to work with the National Science Foundation's extensive TeraGrid research cyberinfrastructure. The Springboard hub makes it easy for researchers from any field to use some of the most powerful high-performance computing systems in the world with a few clicks in a Web browser. Springboard also includes all the collaboration features of other hubs.

"Springboard changes the way people use supercomputing resources," says Carol Song, a senior research scientist at ITaP's Rosen Center for Advanced Computing and the TeraGrid project principal investigator at Purdue. "Users are no longer limited to command lines. They can collaborate with colleagues or get help in real-time."

Another Purdue TeraGrid resource in the spotlight is Wispy, a cloud computing system that allows researchers to package jobs as self-contained programs, or "virtual machines," to be run remotely on a specially configured cluster supercomputer.

Because the Wispy cluster can run virtual versions of a variety of computing environments, researchers don't have to worry about reconfiguring their jobs for a specific environment on a specific supercomputer, says Preston Smith, a Rosen Center senior systems administrator working with Song on the project. The Wispy cluster can run up to 128 virtual machines at a time. It is readily scalable to increase that capacity.

The SC10 booth also highlights Purdue's 2010 Campus Technology Innovators Award-winning Community Cluster Program. The partnership with faculty researchers has increased the research computing power available at Purdue by more than 10 times since 2006. That includes the new Rossmann supercomputer ITaP installed over the summer for faculty researchers in aeronautics, engineering, nanotechnology, biology, chemistry, physics and statistics, among other fields. Rossmann is expected to be named one of the world's 500 most powerful supercomputers at SC10.

Writer: Greg Kline, 765-494-8167 (office), 765-426-8545 (cell), gkline@purdue.edu

Sources: Carol Song, 765-496-7467, carolxsong@purdue.edu

         Preston Smith, 765-494-9729, psmith@purdue.edu  

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