CISL Director’s Message

Anke Kamrath, CISL Director
Anke Kamrath, CISL Director

The 2019 fiscal year for the Computational and Information Systems Lab focused on updating our cyberinfrastructure and physical facilities, continuing to make progress in important ongoing initiatives, and on planning and preparing for the future. Our most notable highlights involved new cyberinfrastructure deployments and significant steps forward in pursuit of our new strategy for facilitating data analysis on a massive scale.

As the fiscal year began, we deployed the new Casper data analysis, visualization, and machine-learning resource. By the end of the year, users had run 1.3 million jobs accounting for 2.3 million CPU hours on the cluster. The addition of Casper allowed us to decommission two analysis and visualization clusters, Geyser and Caldera, that were acquired in FY2013.

Later, as part of our “Science at Scale” strategy, we obtained an allocation of 100 terabytes of free storage from Amazon Web Services (AWS) to serve a selected subset of CESM Large Ensemble data. A major focus of the strategy is to develop the ability to perform scientific analysis on "Big Data" in the cloud. The subset of CESM data was released publicly after significant effort that included development of documentation and a new Jupyter Notebook environment for exploring that data.

Additional advances in our data storage environment resulted from ongoing collaboration with users to facilitate our pivot away from the High Performance Storage System tape archive. By advocating for and helping users implement improved workflows – and leveraging the Campaign Storage file system that we put into production in FY2018 – we were able to significantly reduce HPSS use over the course of the year. New tools that are in development will support users’ migration of data assets from HPSS as they prepare for the decommissioning of HPSS on October 1, 2021.

This report includes three sections, beginning with our achievements in providing HPC and data services to advance Earth system science. The second section highlights our extensive research collaborations in computational science and data analytics. Finally, the report describes CISL’s ongoing efforts to reach out and inspire new generations of computational geoscientists.

Advance Earth system science through HPC and data services

In addition to our successful Casper deployment and AWS data storage initiative, CISL teams made significant improvements in our Mesa Lab facility. The VisLab was remodeled and fitted with the latest, high-resolution display technology, and an extensive network recabling project is nearing completion. Looking ahead, after extensive planning throughout FY2019 for our next-generation HPC system, we anticipate releasing a formal request for proposal in FY2020. The successor to the Cheyenne supercomputer, as yet unnamed, is expected to be in production in FY2022.

Emerging computational and data analytics capabilities for Earth system science

Impact and collaboration are hallmarks of CISL’s research into emerging computational science, exascale architectures, and the rapidly advancing area of artificial intelligence. One example of both hallmarks is the result of our collaboration with NCAR’s Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology Laboratory and the Weather Company: The Model for Prediction Across Scales (MPAS) is slated to become the first global atmospheric model running in production on GPUs.

Reach out to new generations of scientists through education

The CISL Outreach, Diversity and Education group addresses the challenge of meeting CISL’s objectives through a range of activities, including well-established, innovative internship and visitor programs, a robust portfolio of workshops, and other training in HPC concepts for students and faculty. Some of our FY2019 accomplishments are described in this last section of the report.

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As you read about our FY2019 accomplishments, I hope you will appreciate the importance of our strategic efforts, the dedication of our staff, and the pride we share in our work and in our mission.