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InTheLoop | 02.26.2007

The weekly newsletter for Berkeley Lab Computing Sciences

February 26, 2007

NERSC Listed As Second-Largest Database in the World

On February 15, a website called “Business Intelligence Lowdown” issued a list of the “Top 10 Largest Databases in the World.” The 2.8 petabytes of data in NERSC’s HPSS storage system earned it the number 2 ranking on the list, beating out such contenders as Google, Amazon, the Library of Congress, and the CIA.

“To put the size of NERSC into perspective,” the article stated, “the total amount of spoken words in the history of humanity is estimated to be at 5 exabytes; in relative terms, the NERSC database is equivalent to 0.055% of the size of that figure. Although that may not seem a lot at first glance, when you factor in that 6 billion humans around the globe speak more than 2,000 words a day, the sheer magnitude of that number becomes apparent.”

Number 1 on the list, with more than 6 petabytes of information, is the World Data Centre for Climate, operated by the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology and the German Climate Computing Centre.

While this Top 10 list may not be definitive—comments posted to the website point out a number of omissions such as Fermilab—it does serve as a starting point for conversations. You can read the list by going to http://www.businessintelligencelowdown.com/ and scrolling halfway down the page to the February 15 heading.

David Paul Elected Secretary on the Board of Directors of SP-XXL

At the winter SP-XXL meeting on February 5-9, David Paul, Seaborg system lead and member of the NERSC Computational Systems Group, was elected to serve as Secretary on the Board of Directors and to chair a newly formed security working group. SP-XXL is a self-organized and self-supporting user group for organizations that have large installations of IBM equipment.

As the board secretary, David’s responsibilities will include compiling the yearly report to IBM that details requests for improvement, highlights deficiencies, and provides suggestions for IBM’s technology roadmap. The voting members of each site prioritize each item, and the report is then provided to IBM for their response, which is typically delivered at the summer SP-XXL meeting. The efforts of SP-XXL have resulted in a number of software improvements, changes to the hardware roadmaps, and improvements to service and support of large IBM HPC sites.

Given the current security-sensitive climate, SP-XXL decided to form a separate security working group, which David will chair, to give the topic more focus. (Security was formerly covered by the system administration working group.)

There are currently 29 member organizations in SP-XXL. The focus of the group is on large-scale scientific and technical computing using IBM hardware, covering areas such as applications, code development tools, communications, networking, parallel I/O, resource management, system administration, and training. More information on the group can be found at http://www.spxxl.org/new_website/html/index.html.

PPoPP'07 Conference to Include Tutorial on OpenMP Programming

A full-day tutorial on Programming with Cluster OpenMP will be held on Saturday, March 17, as part of the ACM SIGPLAN Symposium on Principles and Practice of Parallel Programming (PPoPP'07) in San Jose, CA. Led by Jay Hoeflinger of Intel Corporation, this tutorial will teach the attendees about Cluster OpenMP and the tools that are available to assist the programmer in debugging and tuning. Cluster OpenMP is an Intel programming system that allows the user to run an OpenMP program on a cluster of computers that have no hardware shared memory. The tutorial will consist of a short tutorial on OpenMP; a longer description of Cluster OpenMP, its concepts, mechanisms and tools; a set of short, hands-on porting exercises for the participants; and a set of exercises with the Cluster OpenMP debugging and tuning tools.

More information on PPoPP'07 is available at http://ftg.lbl.gov/ppopp07/. To register online, go to http://ftg.lbl.gov/ppopp07/reginfo.html.

UC Berkeley Symposium to Honor William A. Lester, Jr.’s 70th Birthday

UC Berkeley will host a symposium honoring the 70th birthday of William A. Lester Jr., Professor of Chemistry at UC and a theoretical chemist in Berkeley Lab’s Chemical Sciences Division, on March 27-31. Lester’s research interests are in electronic structure and collision dynamics of atomic and molecular systems. He is best known for extending the powerful quantum Monte Carlo method to the range of chemical problems that form the traditional domain of quantum chemistry. He has published over 200 scientific articles and a book, has edited or co-edited four other volumes, has received numerous honors, and has served on many national committees and boards.

Lester was the Director of the National Resource for Computation in Chemistry and the Associate Director of Berkeley Lab from 1978 to 1981. In 2004, Lester was one of the first three recipients of INCITE allocations at NERSC, receiving 1 million processor hours for his project “Quantum Monte Carlo Study of Photoprotection via Carotenoids in Photosynthetic Centers,” which aimed to gain a better understanding of the process plants and bacteria go through to convert sunlight into energy.

More information about the symposium can be found at http://lestersymposium.googlepages.com/.

IBM Announces Programming Contest for College Students

IBM has announced “Cell/B.E. Challenge 07: Beyond Gaming,” a programming contest specifically created for college and university students. The objective of the contest is to get students acquainted with Cell Broadband Engine™ (Cell/B.E.) processor technology.

Application codes must be written in C or C++ and must be submitted by July 5, 2007. Examples of application sectors include but are not limited to seismic applications, financial services, medical imaging, electronic design and automation, content creation, visualization and management, digital video surveillance, computational biology and medicine, high performance computing, and simulation.

Winning program developers will be chosen by a panel of academic leaders and IBM technical experts, and will receive prizes ranging from $10,000 for the first place winner to $2,500 for the fourth place winner. For more information, go to http://www-304.ibm.com/jct09002c/university/students/contests/cell/.

About Computing Sciences at Berkeley Lab

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) Computing Sciences organization provides the computing and networking resources and expertise critical to advancing the Department of Energy's research missions: developing new energy sources, improving energy efficiency, developing new materials and increasing our understanding of ourselves, our world and our universe.

ESnet, the Energy Sciences Network, provides the high-bandwidth, reliable connections that link scientists at 40 DOE research sites to each other and to experimental facilities and supercomputing centers around the country. The National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) powers the discoveries of 7,000-plus scientists at national laboratories and universities, including those at Berkeley Lab's Computational Research Division (CRD). CRD conducts research and development in mathematical modeling and simulation, algorithm design, data storage, management and analysis, computer system architecture and high-performance software implementation. NERSC and ESnet are Department of Energy Office of Science User Facilities.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory addresses the world's most urgent scientific challenges by advancing sustainable energy, protecting human health, creating new materials, and revealing the origin and fate of the universe. Founded in 1931, Berkeley Lab's scientific expertise has been recognized with 13 Nobel prizes. The University of California manages Berkeley Lab for the DOE’s Office of Science.

DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.