Purdue News

June 6, 2006

Nation's largest computing grid announces inaugural conference

INDIANAPOLIS — Scientists and researchers who are coming together thanks to the nation's largest computer grid will have a chance to meet face-to-face on June 12-15 at the first national TeraGrid conference in Indianapolis.

The TeraGrid harnesses the computing resources of some of the nation's top high-performance computing research institutions and universities. The grid includes more than 100 teraflops of computing — about the same computing capability as 28,000 desktop computers.

Conference programming co-chair Sebastien Goasguen, a senior research scientist with Information Technology at Purdue, says that the TeraGrid makes it possible for scientists to conduct extremely complex experiments, the so-called "big science," such as climate modeling, earthquake prediction and weather forecasts.

"This is the most comprehensive aggregation of high-performance computational resources in the United States," Goasguen says. "The TeraGrid is allowing researchers to apply high-performance computing resources to address real-world issues."

Recent examples of how the TeraGrid is being used include:

• Earthquake simulation: The San Diego Supercomputing Center led a project that created the largest and most detailed simulation yet on a 7.7 magnitude earthquake along the San Andreas Fault. The simulation was a collaborative effort that involved more than 20 scientists from eight institutions, including the Southern California Earthquake Center.

• Weather forecasting: The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, working with Kelvin Droegemeier of the University of Oklahoma, developed the first weather forecasts that accurately predicted thunderstorms within 20 miles and within 30 minutes of when they actually occurred.

• Medical visualization: George Karniadakis, a professor of applied mathematics at Brown University, studied the way blood flows through arteries by creating 3-D animated visualizations. Because the 3-D models required more computer memory than a single computer could provide, the computations for this model were distributed across the TeraGrid.

• Avian influenza modeling: The National Center for Supercomputer Applications, based in Champaign, Ill., partnered with researchers at the National Institutes of Health to develop the computational resources needed to create computer models for the spread of avian influenza. The NCSA provides both computing power and storage capacity to the NIH's Models of Infectious Disease Agent Study (MIDAS).

The TeraGrid also is providing information technology resources to researchers that previously were not easily available, says Scott McCaulay, conference program co-chair and TeraGrid site leader at Indiana University.

"One of the ways that the TeraGrid is helping to accelerate scientific research is by making unique resources available to researchers nationwide," McCaulay says. "In addition to providing some of the most powerful computing resources in the world and the high-speed networking to make them accessible, the TeraGrid is working to make existing data collections easily accessible online to serve entire research communities."

More examples of the work being done on the TeraGrid will be presented at the inaugural conference, which is being co-sponsored by Purdue and Indiana universities and is taking place on the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus.

The TeraGrid ties together the computing power and resources of eight institutions: the San Diego Supercomputer Center, Texas Advanced Computing Center, University of Chicago-Argonne National Laboratory, National Center for Supercomputing Applications, Purdue University, Indiana University, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center.

Goasguen says that the TeraGrid is bringing together communities of scientists through Web sites or shared desktop applications that provide needed tools and resources, which are known as "science gateways."

"TeraGrid has entered a new era with its science gateway program," Goasguen says. "Science gateways aim at providing services to a community as a whole instead of dealing with individual users. This comprehensive cyberinfrastructure is a significant step forward for the nation. The TeraGrid offers interoperable, reusable and configurable services to suit the needs of scientific and educational communities. Already, earth and atmospheric sciences, nanotechnology, particle physics, and biology communities are part of the TeraGrid science gateway program, and more communities are following this movement every day."

More information about the research being conducted via the TeraGrid and the conference itself is available online.

ABOUT THE TERAGRID: The TeraGrid, sponsored by the National Science Foundation Office of Cyberinfrastructure, is a partnership of people and comprehensive resources that enables discovery in U.S. science and engineering research. Through high-performance network connections, the TeraGrid integrates a distributed set of high-capability computational, data management and visualization resources to make U.S. research more productive. With Science Gateway collaborations and education and mentoring programs, the TeraGrid also connects and broadens scientific communities.

Writer: Steve Tally, (765) 494-9809; tally@purdue.edu

Sources: Sebastien Goasguen, (765) 494-9782l sebgoa@purdue.edu

Scott McCaulay, (812) 855-4716; smccaula@indiana.edu

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu


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