PSC News Center

NSF Award Links Pittsburgh with Ultrafast "Grid"

Researchers will be able to use the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center's terascale system via the world's fastest network.

Big Iron on a Fast Grid

PITTSBURGH, October 10, 2002 — The National Science Foundation has awarded $35 million to the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC) and its two sister supercomputing centers to create new technological infrastructure that will harness the nation's most powerful computing systems for open research into a seamless "grid." The National Science Board approved the award earlier today.

The grant will tie LeMieux, PSC's terascale computing system — the most powerful system in the country committed to unclassified research — into the world's fastest network.

This optical-fiber, dedicated research network will transmit data at 30 gigabits per second, 500,000 times faster than typical Internet dial-up — fast enough, for instance, to download 750 copies of the complete works of Shakespeare every second.

With central hubs in Chicago and Los Angeles, the network will connect PSC and four other research centers in a unified national resource called the TeraGrid. Analogous to an electrical power grid, the TeraGrid will make computational power available to scientists and engineers nationwide, who will submit their work without regard to geographical location of the systems.

"This award will create the first wide-area computational grid encompassing terascale systems of differing architectures," said PSC scientific directors Mike Levine and Ralph Roskies in a joint statement. "This heterogeneity, which results from linking Pittsburgh and the TeraGrid, will enable new forms of science by coordinating resources at the five sites."

The TeraGrid will link PSC with two other NSF-supported supercomputing centers: the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and the San Diego Supercomputer Center at the University of California, San Diego. The TeraGrid will also include a specialized facility at the Argonne National Laboratory for data visualization and a data collection and analysis environment at the California Institute of Technology.

"This investment in technological infrastructure builds on our recent successes," said Jared L. Cohon, president of Carnegie Mellon University. "PSC, home of the most powerful computing resource for public research in the country, will now be linked with other powerful systems on the fastest public research network. It's one more statement that the high-technology assets of this region are second to none."

"Basic research is the foundation of our national economic strength," said Mark Nordenberg, chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh. "Our region and our two great universities — Pitt and Carnegie Mellon — are leaders in scientific innovation, and this award to the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center both acknowledges and extends this leadership."

"The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center is well known for pushing the boundaries of computational science and advanced networks," said Congressman Mike Doyle (D, 18th Dist). "This expansion of technological infrastructure is good news for the country and for the Pittsburgh region because once again PSC is recognized as a leader in high-performance computing."

For PSC, the award also augments LeMieux with a new system based on "Marvel" servers from Hewlett-Packard. This system, which employs the newest generation of Alpha processors, the EV7, will provide an unprecedented amount of memory and high-bandwidth interconnection among processors.

"The Marvel memory structure," said Levine and Roskies, "will provide an entirely new capability to the national research community. It will significantly boost certain kinds of research, including large-scale protein simulations and genome sequencing."

The extended TeraGrid environment envisioned by the award will provide more than 20 teraflops (trillions of calculations per second) distributed among the five sites and nearly one petabyte (a quadrillion bytes) of storage.

The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center is a joint effort of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh together with the Westinghouse Electric Company. It was established in 1986 and is supported by several federal agencies, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and private industry.

See also, NSF's news release:
NSF's $35 Million Extensible Terascale Facility Award Expands TeraGrid Project

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article:
Supercomputer to be linked to 4 others in powerful grid




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Michael Schneider
Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center
schneider@psc.edu
412.268.4960

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