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InTheLoop | 06.07.2010

June 7, 2010

Cray CEO Peter Ungaro to Speak at NERSC on Thursday

Peter J. Ungaro, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cray Inc., will visit NERSC this Thursday, June 10. He will give a talk on “What’s Next for Cray” from 9:30 to 10:30 am in OSF conference room 238 (videoconferenced to 50B-2222). All staff are invited to attend and bring their questions about Cray. Here is the abstract of Ungaro’s talk:

Cray has had a long and proud history and is currently playing a prominent role again in the world of supercomputing, with installations at leading HPC centers around the world, such as at NERSC, and having the fastest system on the Top 500 list. In this talk, Pete will talk about the next steps for Cray in their roadmap to supercomputing leadership and answer any questions people may have on the company, products, strategy or future directions.

Grace Hopper Will Power Science on NERSC’s New Cray XE6

American computer scientist Grace Hopper will power science on the cabinets of NERSC’s petascale Cray XE6 system. A pioneer in the field of software development and programming languages, Hopper created the first compiler. She was a champion for increasing the usability of computers, understanding that their power and reach would be limited unless they were made more user-friendly. NERSC’s new flagship machine is named “Hopper” in her honor, and her image will appear in the graphic on the cabinets. Learn more.

Data Acquisition and Coordination Key to Human Microbiome Project

Berkeley Lab’s Victor Markowitz and Nikos Kyrpides lead the Data Acquisition and Coordination Center for the Human Microbiome Project. The HMP is a multi-institutional effort to gain a better understanding of the community of microbes that outnumber the human cells in our bodies by a 10:1 ratio and are critical to our health and physical well-being. Learn more.

Computers Give Insights into Generating Power Like the Sun

Although magnetic fusion has been achieved on Earth, researchers still do not understand the behavior of plasma well enough to effectively confine it to generate a sustainable flow of energy. That’s where NERSC’s supercomputers come in. Learn more.

Energy-Efficient Supercomputing BoF Session Overflows at ISC10

In addition to the International Supercomputing Conference activities reported in last week’s InTheLoop, the BoF session “Setting Trends for Energy-Efficient Supercomputing” on May 31 was a big hit. The organizers expected 20 participants, and more than 100 showed up.

The presentation described the activities of the Energy Efficiency for HPC working group (EEHPC), which seeks to develop standardized, workload-based metrics for energy efficiency of HPC systems. This is a collaboration between DOE’s Industrial Technologies Program and the Green Grid industry consortium. Erich Strohmaier of CRD and John Shalf of NERSC chair the HPC metrics group. Berkeley Lab ALD Horst Simon and HPC consultant Natalie Bates organized the BoF session, which included Wu Feng Chun from Virginia Tech (Green500 list), Tahir Cadir from HP and the Green Grid Industry Consortium, Strohmaier, Shalf, and Bates.

Daily video blogs from ISC by Shalf and Heike Jagode, a computer scientist at the University of Tennessee, can be viewed here.

Oakland Tech Students Tour NERSC Machine Room, Get Souvenirs

As part of the Lab’s new outreach initiative, NERSC has started a partnership with Oakland Technical High School’s Computer Science and Technology Academy, a small academy within the larger high school. On Thursday afternoon, June 3, 12 students from Oakland Tech and their teacher, Emmanuel Onyeador, visited the Oakland Scientific Facility for an introduction to computational science and supercomputer architecture, and a tour of the NERSC machine room.

Katie Antypas, a High Performance Computing consultant, gave an overview of NERSC and an introduction to parallel programming, explaining why scientific problems require such huge computers. Dave Paul, a systems engineer, brought out computer nodes and parts from NERSC’s older systems and demonstrated how the components have become both more dense and more power efficient as the technology has evolved over time. Each student was able to take home a piece of Seaborg, an IBM Power3 system that NERSC decommissioned a few years ago. Finally, David Stewart, a network engineer, led the students on a dynamic tour of the machine room, not only showing the computational systems but also lifting floor tiles to display the vast networking, cabling, and piping infrastructure underneath the floor.

NERSC and the Computer Science and Technology Academy plan to do more outreach programs this summer and in the fall when the students return to class. Oakland Tech is located on Broadway at 42nd Street, up the street from OSF, which simplifies after-school trips and mentoring programs.

Koniges Speaks at International Fusion Facility Modeling Workshop

Alice Koniges of NERSC was invited to speak at the 5th Annual International Workshop on Computational Challenges in Fusion Facility Modeling, held at the Laser Mégajoule (LMJ) site in Bordeaux, France, from May 31 to June 2, 2010. She gave two presentations, “What is Ahead for Laser Computing?” and “History and Applications of ALE-AMR.” The workshop attracted participants from England, the US, and Germany as well as France. LMJ, an experimental inertial confinement fusion device being built by the French nuclear science directorate (CEA), is the French counterpart to the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Lab.

ESnet Launches “Network Matters” Blog

ESnet, with help from Wendy Tsabba of the CS Communications Group, has started a new blog called “Network Matters.” The blog will keep the DOE community informed about ESnet projects in progress and the science ESnet makes possible. Recent topics include a new staff member, progress towards the 100G prototype network, and data distribution for the Large Hadron Collider.

Register Now for VECPAR’10, June 22–25 in Berkeley

Berkeley Lab and CITRIS will be hosting VECPAR’10, the Ninth International Meeting on High Performance Computing for Computational Science, on June 22–25, 2010 at Sutardja Dai Hall on the UC Berkeley campus. Berkeley Lab staff interested in attending this meeting should register as soon as possible, as registration will close on June 14. All participants are required to register; there will be no on-site registration, and logistical and space limitations will not accommodate any drop-ins. The program can be found here.

This Week’s Computing Sciences Seminars

Intelligent Optical Networking and Computing for Future Cyberinfrastructure
Thursday, June 10, 10:00–11:30 am, 50B-2222
S. J. Ben Yoo, University of California, Davis

Future networks will benefit from agile and intelligent reconfigurations of high-capacity traffic in the core. We will discuss optical-label switching (OLS) networks capable of seamlessly integrating packet, circuit, and flow traffic with scalability to multi-petabit-per-second capacity. Communications between the distributed agents and the network management are facilitated by the labels, and the statistical summary of the labels provides information for intelligent network management and control. We will further discuss the UC Davis OLS networking testbed with OLS core routers and OLS edge routers. The prototyped OLS core routers support optical packets, bursts, and circuits with full interoperability, and achieve rapid switching (~600 psec) with ultra-low latency (~12 ns). Field trial and testbed demonstrations including video multicast/unicast and FTP applications, 1,001 hop cascaded OLS router operation, 477 km Sprint field fiber network trials, and possible future experiments with ESnet will also be discussed. The second part of the talk will discuss scalability and energy-efficiency of future cloud computing. We will introduce a new class of optical switching system designed for interconnecting computing systems. The optical switching system exploits a single stage wavelength-routing switch with a pipelined arbiter. The switching fabric is contention-free and scalable beyond 2 million port x 2 million port and 42 petabit/second aggregate switching capacity in a single stage switch. Simulation results indicate ~50 ns latency with 94% normalized throughput at 0.96 load in the optical switching system.

Link of the Week: The Situation of Sexism

The existence of unconscious sexism can be scientifically proved in laboratory experiments. But bias is much harder to demonstrate scientifically in real life, which may be why large numbers of people do not believe that sexism and other forms of prejudice still exist. Many people think we live in a “post-racial” and “post-sexist” world where egalitarian notions are the norm. Indeed, if you go by what people report, we do live in a bias-free world, because most people report feeling no prejudice whatsoever.

What would be remarkably instructive in real life would be if women in various professions could experience life as men, and vice versa. If the same person got treated differently, we would be sure sexism was at work, because the only thing that changed was the sex of the individual and not his or her skills, talent, knowledge, experience, or interests. In an excerpt from his book The Hidden Brain, Shankar Vedantam writes about two Stanford professors who have each gone through a sex change — one female to male, the other male to female — and their experiences before and after.

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.