Computation Institute Announces Role in NSF's XSEDE Project

August 23, 2011

The Computation Institute at the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory announced this week that it will be participating as a partner organization in the recently announced Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) project for advanced cyberinfrastructure and digital services, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The Computation Institute’s role will span both planning and implementation for the XSEDE environment and will involve contributions of both personnel and technology.

“We couldn’t be more pleased about our role in such an important project,” said Ian Foster, Computation Institute Director. “XSEDE will set a new standard for what is possible with respect to scientific computing, and we are proud to be able to provide both our expertise and our software for the effort. Some of the most important discoveries and innovations of the next century will by made by scientists using the XSEDE infrastructure, so few things are more important than our contributions to this project.”

The XSEDE project was announced in late July by a partnership of 17 institutions including the University of Chicago, home to the Computation Institute. NSF will fund the XSEDE project for five years, at $121 million. XSEDE will be the most advanced, powerful, and robust collection of integrated advanced digital resources and services in the world. Initially, XSEDE will support 16 supercomputers across the country. It also includes other specialized digital resources and services to complement these computers. These resources will be expanded throughout the lifetime of the project.

Researchers at the Computation Institute will provide leadership in several core areas of the project, including: senior management, architecture and design, project management, software development and integration, data, software support, system administration for Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS), and advanced user support.

The Computation Institute will also provide the initial implementation of the XSEDE User Access Services (XUAS). According to the initial XSEDE announcement, XUAS will provide a comprehensive view of the resources available--not just those at XSEDE partner sites, but any resources. It will integrate authentication and job monitoring, providing a comprehensive view and single contact point for all the cyberinfrastructure that researchers need to achieve their science and education goals.

XSEDE will replace and expand the TeraGrid project that started more than a decade ago and is currently used by over 10,000 scientists for thousands of research projects. The Globus Toolkit, grid software whose development is led in part by the Computation Institute, was an integral component of TeraGrid, and will continue to play a role in XSEDE infrastructure.

“Our team is taking on a broad range of roles with the project, from planning to implementation,” said Steve Tuecke, Computation Institute Deputy Director who sites on the senior management team for XSEDE. “Given our role as a provider for XSEDE user access, it makes sense for Computation Institute personnel to contribute their time and effort across multiple functional areas. Also, many of the cross-functional teams have worked together before, on TeraGrid and other projects related to scientific computing, so that should make for a high level of efficiency when it comes to XSEDE.”

In the original project announcement, John Towns of the University of Illinois's National Center for Supercomputing Applications and leader of the XSEDE project said, "TeraGrid helped invent the concept of having digital resources like supercomputers, tools and expertise spread across the country and allowing researchers to easily use them. XSEDE will take the next step by lowering technological barriers to access and use. We are creating a distributed cyberinfrastructure in which researchers can establish private, secure environments that have all the resources, services, and collaboration support they need to be productive."

For more information on XSEDE, visit www.xsede.org.

About the Computation Institute

The Computation Institute (CI) was established in 2000 as a joint initiative between The University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory to advance science through innovative computational approaches. Scholarship in the sciences, arts, and medicine depends increasingly on collection and analysis of large quantities of data and detailed numerical simulations of complex phenomena. Progress is gated by researchers’ ability to construct complex software systems, to harness large-scale computing, and to federate distributed resources. The CI is both an intellectual nexus and resource center for those building and applying such computational platforms for science. As an intellectual nexus, it brings together researchers from different disciplines with common interests in advancing the state-of-the-art in computing and its applications. As a resource center, it provides expert assistance to scholars whose work requires the most advanced computational methods. For more information visit http://www.ci.anl.gov/.