Lead national CI engagements

NCAR booth at SC conference
The CISL exhibit booth at the SC15 conference in Austin, Texas.

CISL makes significant contributions to U.S. cyberinfrastructure and maintains a strong presence in national CI development projects, including both HPC and networking. Working with national entities broadens NCAR’s impact by fostering the maturation of national HPC CI, leveraging national resources and partnerships to tackle national problems, and this work is a natural and mutually beneficial component of a national center’s role.

XSEDE program and Service Provider Forum

In FY2016, the NSF’s eXtreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) successfully proposed and was continued with a second five-year award. As part of the new award, NCAR expanded its participation in XSEDE by increasing its participation in XSEDE’s Extended Collaborative Support Service. CISL’s David Hart took on the role of director for XSEDE’s newly formed Resource Allocations Service.

CISL continues to be engaged as an active member of the XSEDE Service Provider (SP) Forum as a Level 2 SP. NCAR integrates its networking, data transfer, and science gateway services at the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC) with the XSEDE environment. NCAR provided a 10-Gbps networking link to XSEDEnet through June 2016, supporting high-performance access to the 16-PB GLADE file system for users having both NCAR and XSEDE accounts. XSEDE network access is now provided via Internet2.

NCAR remains active in coordinating training, education, and outreach goals with other XSEDE SPs. CISL’s VAPOR team, for example, contributed a VAPOR training course for XSEDE users in FY2016. CISL staff also attended and contributed as part of the program committee for the XSEDE16 annual conference in Miami. Hart has also been designated the general chair for the 2017 conference, preparations for which began in FY2016.

National networking projects

CISL is a recognized leader and participant in a number of national networking projects that are tightly integrated with regional networks. Active participation helps guide and set strategic direction for these national organizations, which helps ensure that UCAR and NCAR have access to the national network connectivity and services required to carry out their missions.

UCAR is a collaborator on the recently funded Pacific Research Platform (PRP). A series of ultra-high-speed fiber-optic cables will weave together a cluster of West Coast university laboratories and supercomputer centers as part of a five-year, $5 million dollar grant from NSF. The network is meant to keep pace with the vast acceleration of data collection in fields such as physics, astronomy, and genetics. The PRP will not be directly connected to the Internet, but will make it possible to move data at speeds tens or hundreds of times faster than is typical now: 10 to 100 gigabits per second among 10 University of California campuses and 10 other universities and research institutions in several states. UCAR has installed a PRP FIONA node at the NWSC and is working with climate scientists to utilize the data node.

CISL’s involvement with national networking consortia also includes Internet2, NOAA’s science network NWAVE, and the Department of Energy (DOE) Energy Science Network (ESnet). These are the premier U.S. networks in research and education. On behalf of UCAR, CISL/NETS maintains high-speed connectivity to these national networks to ensure the required connectivity between researchers that enables collaboration and access to local and remote computing, data, and instruments.

ACM/IEEE Supercomputing conference participation

CISL is an active participant in the ACM SIGARCH and IEEE Computer Society Supercomputing conferences, which attract thousands of HPC experts from government, academia, and industry every year. CISL staff members serve each year on the infrastructure committee, present technical papers, and operate an NCAR exhibit booth on the conference floor. CISL also participates each year at the Supercomputing Student Job Fair, an opportunity to reach a broad population of students in computational science, engineering, and other job candidates seeking careers in high-performance computing and networking.

CISL also participates in the design, implementation, and operation of SCinet, the fastest and most innovative computer network in the world; at SC15, SCinet delivered more than 1.6 terabits (or trillion bits) per second of network bandwidth to exhibitor booths, allowing them to demonstrate the latest HPC-enabled research – from genomic analyses to multi-gigabit simulations.

Other initiatives

CISL has continued its strong engagement with NSF’s EarthCube initiative. CISL staff served on the Architectural Advisory Panel for the SDSC-led EarthCube Conceptual Design Award, a steering committee responsible for forming the EarthCube Council on Data Facilities (CDF). CISL’s service included working to form a draft charter.

CISL staff members also serve on a number of advisory panels, including the Science Gateways Institute, the Petascale External Advisory Committee of the NSF Blue Waters Project, and the Technical Evaluation Panel of the Department of Defense HPC Modernization Office.

Purpose and funding

These efforts advance CISL’s strategic computing imperatives in hardware cyberinfrastructure, software cyberinfrastructure, and facilities. Many of CISL’s national leadership activities are funded by NSF Core funds. XSEDE is funded through a five-year grant from the NSF Advanced Cyberinfrastructure division.