Lead national CI engagements

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.

Discussion at PEARC
The PEARC17 conference was chaired by CISL’s David Hart and attracted 600 attendees from across the country to discuss a range of topics related to delivering advanced research computing services. Activities included Student Modeling Day, when students worked in teams with experienced professionals such as Kate Cahill (standing, above), Ohio Supercomputing Center, to build models of scientific phenomena to understand their behavior and simulate a range of conditions.


XSEDE program and Service Provider Forum

NCAR continues to play a leadership role in the NSF-funded eXtreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE). For XSEDE’s second five-year award, CISL’s David Hart is director for XSEDE’s Resource Allocations Service, and NCAR expanded its participation in XSEDE’s Extended Collaborative Support Service (ECSS). As part of his ECSS efforts, CISL’s Davide del Vento helped vegetation modelers with no HPC experience to launch jobs from a Jupyter notebook hosted on the Jetstream cloud resource to execute on the Bridges cluster. He also helped with the organization of the International HPC Summer School hosted at CU Boulder. These efforts earned him an “ECSS Rookie of the Year” recognition by XSEDE leadership.

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. CISL remains active in coordinating training, education, and outreach goals with other XSEDE SPs.

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 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 SC16, 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.

Practice and Experience in Advanced Research Computing 2017 (PEARC17)

In FY2017, CISL’s David Hart was general chair for the inaugural conference in the Practice and Experience in Advanced Research Computing (PEARC) series, PEARC17. Spinning off from the XSEDE conference series, the PEARC series represents an effort to create a long-lived, independent conference series for the broader community beyond XSEDE. Nearly 600 attendees from 200 universities and other organizations across 45 states and eight countries met in New Orleans to discuss technology, software, data, and workforce topics as they impact centers and departments that deliver advanced research computing services to local, regional, and national communities. CISL staff participated on the PEARC17 program committee and presented papers and posters at the conference.

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.

In September 2017, CISL contributed to workload scheduler assessments for the HPC Survey’s Workload Management System (WMS) Trade Study conducted by the U.S. Department of Defense High Performance Computing Modernization Program (HPCMP). CISL provided experience, examples, and advice on three different workload scheduling technologies that are currently used by NCAR in our various CI environments. The WMS trade study surveyed sites outside the HPCMP for their perspectives and experiences with WMS tools.

CISL also collaborated with the University of Colorado and Argonne National Laboratory on pre-release technologies by porting software to pre-release hardware such as the second-generation Intel® Xeon Phi™ processors, which have recently been released. This effort will help users transition their applications to the new Intel Xeon Phi architecture.

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 subaward 84216061 to the University of Illinois from the NSF Advanced Cyberinfrastructure division.