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Teragrid’s First Targets Include Galaxy Formation and Pollution Cleanup


The first computing resources of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) TeraGrid became fully available for scientific use in January, and some of the first applications will be tracking the formation of galaxies in the early universe and finding the most efficient and least expensive ways to clean up groundwater pollution.

Other early TeraGrid ( users will study seismic events and analyze biomolecular dynamics on the Linux clusters at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) and the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC). The two clusters together offer 4.5 teraflops (trillions of calculations per second) of computing power and access to more than 250 terabytes of disk storage. Allocations for use of these machines were awarded by the NSF’s Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (PACI) last October.

"We are pleased to see scientific research being conducted on the first production TeraGrid clusters," said Peter Freeman, head of NSF’s Computer and Information Sciences and Engineering directorate. "Leading-edge supercomputing capabilities are essential to the emerging cyberinfrastructure, and the TeraGrid represents NSF’s commitment to providing high-end, innovative resources."

NSF’s TeraGrid is a multi-year effort to deploy the world’s largest, most comprehensive distributed infrastructure of computation, information and instrumentation resources for scientific research. Hardware at sites across the country is connected by a 40-gigabit per second backplane—the fastest research network on the planet.

The TeraGrid sites include NCSA at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; SDSC at the University of California, San Diego; the Center for Advanced Computing Research (CACR) at Caltech; Argonne National Laboratory; and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC). In 2003, NSF made awards to extend the TeraGrid partnership to Indiana University, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Purdue University and the Texas Advanced Computing Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

In December, NCSA and SDSC installed Linux clusters that will provide an additional 11 teraflops of computing power. The expanded clusters will enter production by June 2004, bringing the combined power of the completed TeraGrid systems to 20 teraflops, including the 6-teraflops, 3,000-processor Terascale Computing System at PSC.

Julie A. Smith | NSF
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