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InTheLoop | 04.16.2012

April 16, 2012

Network Upgrades Meet the Need for Speed

While the commercial Internet is growing at a staggering rate, it has nothing on the Energy Sciences Network (ESnet), which links tens of thousands of scientists at laboratories, universities and other research institutions around the world. As critical missions for other federal agencies, such as Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), become more challenging, these organizations must upgrade their networks while keeping it fast and agile. An article in FedTech suggests that agencies should consider some best practices learned by ESnet, which has carried out a number of successful upgrades. Read more.

ESnet and NERSC Spotlighted at GlobusWORLD, HPC User Forum

The 10th annual GlobusWORLD conference was held last week, April 10–12, at Argonne National Laboratory. The 2012 theme was “Move. Store. Collaborate.” In the Resource Provider Spotlights session, presentations included “ESnet, the Science DMZ, and the Role of Globus Online” by Brian Tierney and Eli Dart of ESnet, and “Globus @ NERSC” by Shreyas Cholia of NERSC. They also participated in a Resource Provider Panel, where they fielded questions about Globus Online enablement and usage, as well as other challenges they face in supporting researchers.

The 45th HPC User Forum is being held this week, April 16–18, in Richmond, Virginia, with the theme “Advances and Potential Disruptions in HPC.” In a session on “Data-Intensive Computing: Redefining HPC?” Shane Canon of NERSC will discuss “Processing Large Volumes of Experimental Data.”

David Bailey’s Articles on Experimental Math Collected in New Book

CRD’s Complex Systems Group Lead David Bailey and University of Newcastle Mathematics Professor Jonathan Borwein have collaborated on the subject of experimental mathematics for a quarter of a century. A new book, Exploratory Experimentation in Mathematics: Selected Works, collects sixteen articles they wrote together or separately and with coauthors. These works reflect Bailey and Borwein’s work on and their views about the changing face of computer-assisted “high-performance” mathematics.

Also, in a column for the Huffington Post, Bailey and Borwein write about how the computing and communication revolution has changed how humans play games, and predicts how our relationship with computer games will evolve in the next few decades. Read more.

HR Service Delivery Model Update

Last week the Lab’s Human Resources department announced that they are enhancing the HR service delivery model by combining HR Center resources to provide team coverage for HR transactional work.

The three HR Assistants supporting the Computing Sciences Area, the Biosciences Area, and the IT Division will work in concert to respond to your requests. This new model will allow for a continually high level of support for your HR transactional requests and ensure someone is always available to respond. To this end, they have created a central HR email address for your use: hr-comp-bio@lbl.gov. You will receive a personalized response from one of the HR Assistant team members in response to your requests.

Please contact the HR Assistant Team at hr-comp-bio@lbl.gov for student assistant and GSRA hires, contract labor requests, appointment extensions, Spot Awards, service pins, terminations, and referral to Lab resources and services in support of your people-related needs. The following additional resources are also available:

Jeff Todd, Senior Recruiter, is the point of contact for all recruitment, outreach and recruitment social media initiatives. Marcia Ocon Leimer will continue to assist with matters related to employee and labor relations, reclassifications, salary management, workforce planning/development and performance management. Feel free to contact Marcia or Chris Diesch, HR Center Manager, with your comments and suggestions for improvement.

LabTech Computing and Technology Conference on April 24

LabTech is a free event created by and for Berkeley Lab staff that focuses on computing and technology for science and operations. The inaugural event will take place on Tuesday, April 24, from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm in the Building 50 complex.

LabTech will feature technical tutorials, discussion sessions, networking opportunities, demonstrations, and more. LabTech will be a multi-track conference, with tracks aimed at scientists, technologists, and support staff. Whether you’re interested in the latest tools for data management for scientists, or the newest features in LBNL business systems, LabTech will have something for everyone.

Registration, including lunch and happy hour networking, is free for Berkeley Lab staff and affiliates. Go here to register.

“Wild Beauty: Postcards from Mathematical Worlds” at MSRI

The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) in Berkeley invites you to a special event entitled “Wild Beauty: Postcards from Mathematical Worlds” from 5:30 to 7:30 pm on Wednesday, April 25, 2012. The goal of this “art gallery opening” exhibit is to allow the public to explore intriguing visual representations of concepts from Random Spatial Processes, this spring’s research program at MSRI.

This area of research draws on a number of areas in probability, statistics, physics, and computer science, and the very deep mathematics involved has inspired some strikingly beautiful images and simulations that illustrate its fundamental concepts. This free event is intended for the general public; no mathematical expertise is necessary to enjoy the images.

Prof. James Propp of the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, one of the distinguished visiting mathematicians in the program, will introduce the collection with an illustrated lecture from 6:00 to 6:30 pm. You can then wander through the exhibits and talk with the mathematicians about the ideas that inspired the images. Light refreshments will be served. If you are planning to come, please RSVP online to assist in planning for the event.

This Week’s Computing Sciences Seminars

OSF Brown Bag: Science Gateways at NERSC
Tuesday, April 17, 12:00–1:00 pm, OSF-238
Annette Greiner, NERSC

NERSC's Outreach, Software, and Programming group is developing scientist-targeted web sites we call "science gateways." These can take various forms, from a simple file download site to a full-blown web application invoking code on a high-performance computing  system, and can include components from a heterogenous mix of tools and technologies. In this talk, I will demonstrate several NERSC science gateways and discuss the technologies underpinning them, including the NERSC Web Toolkit (NEWT), which provides a ReSTful web API for high-performance computing.

Quantum Annealing with Superconducting Flux Qubits (Quantum Information and Computation Seminar)
Tuesday, April 17, 2:00–3:00 pm, 410 Hearst Memorial Mining Building, UC Berkeley
Mark Johnson, D-Wave Systems Inc.

D-Wave Systems has implemented a processor based on Quantum Annealing, an algorithm for finding the ground state of a system of interacting spins. The technology is built on a superconducting chip composed of flux qubits that enable a quantum annealing algorithm, and digital components that apply programmable on-chip flux biases. In this presentation, I will review Quantum Annealing, and then give a brief overview of the processor architecture. I will then discuss a method for observing the system dynamics during the annealing process for a sample eight spin problem instance, and describe how the temperature dependence of these dynamics provides a signature of Quantum Annealing.

Destination Europe for Researchers: Marie Curie Initiative, European Research Council and All That!
Wednesday, April 18, 11:00 am–12:30 pm, Room 254, Sutardja Dai Hall, UC Berkeley
Jean-Pierre Banâtre, Head of European Affairs, Inria

In this talk, we will present two major European initiatives addressed to researchers of any nationality at all stages of their careers and also introduce some facilities set up by Inria in order to attract the best ones in its research groups.

The first initiative called the “Marie Curie Actions for worldwide researchers and institutions’ concerns all domains of Science and is mainly devoted to Mobility (international, intersectoral and interdisciplinary). It encompasses 4 main objectives: Initial Training of Researchers, Life-long training and career development, Industry dimension and International dimension with “World fellowship”. We will present the major characteristics of these objectives.

The second major initiative is the European Research Council (ERC), which aims at promoting Europe as a prime location for top scientists in frontier research. This initiative is part of the 7th EU Research Framework Programme and has been allotted a significant budget of $10 billions for the period 2007-2013. Excellence is the only criterion and ERC is opened to researchers from anywhere in the world wishing to do research in Europe. We will go into the details of this program, which is already funding more than 2000 researchers (starting and advanced) in major research centers and Universities in Europe.

Finally, we will give some insight on the way Inria uses these instruments in order to promote excellence in its research groups. For example, Inria is the Institution that hosts the highest number of ERC laureates in Computer Science. Independently, Inria is also setting up its own schemes in order to attract promising researchers in its fields of excellence; of course, these schemes have been designed in strong synergy with ERC instruments.

OSF Brown Bag: CHOS in Production: Supporting Multiple Linux Environments on PDSF at NERSC
Wednesday, April 18, 12:00–1:30 pm, OSF 238
Larry Pezzaglia, NERSC

The CHOS software package combines a Linux kernel module, a PAM module, and batch system integration to provide a mechanism for concurrently supporting multiple Linux environments on a single Linux system. This presentation gives an introduction to CHOS and details how NERSC has deployed this utility on the PDSF HPC system to meet the complex, and often conflicting, software environment requirements of multiple applications. The CHOS utility has been in continuous use on PDSF for over eight years, and has proven to be a robust and simple approach to ensure optimal software environments for HENP workloads.

CHOS was written by Shane Canon of NERSC, and the code is available on GitHub. The CHOS technology is explained in detail here.

Special EECS Seminar: Computational Imaging: Breaking the Limits of Traditional Cameras
Thursday, April 19, 4:00–5:00 pm, 306 Soda Hall (HP Auditorium), UC Berkeley
Oliver Cossairt, Columbia University

It is anticipated that more than 1 billion digital cameras will be sold in 2012. However, the vast majority of digital cameras in use today have a design similar to the centuries-old camera obscura. These traditional cameras are designed to mimic the human eye, producing images that are optimized for human consumption. Computational cameras, on the other hand, are designed to jointly optimize both optical and computational performance. They produce images that may be difficult for humans to interpret directly, but nonetheless contain information relevant to a given computational task.

I will present several new computational cameras, each of which is uniquely designed to optically encode information that is later decoded using signal processing. First, I will discuss cameras that computationally extend depth of field without sacrificing optical efficiency. These techniques can be used to preserve image detail when photographing scenes that span very large depth ranges, with applications in such diverse areas as surveillance and microscopy. Next, I will discuss optical coding techniques designed to capture images with billions of pixels, demonstrating how to achieve an unprecedented level of detail using a compact camera design. This camera has applications in remote sensing, scientific imaging, and commercial photography. I will then present an analysis on the performance limitations of optical coding techniques and conclude with directions for future work.

Effectiveness of Strain Solutions for Next-Generation MOSFETs
Friday, April 20, 1:00–2:00 pm, 521 Cory Hall (Hogan Room), UC Berkeley
Nuo Xu, UC Berkeley EECS

Conventional planar bulk MOSFET is difficult to scale down to sub-20 nm node, due to the worsening performance variability and short channel effects. Thin body transistors, including Multiple-Gate (FinFET & Tri-Gate FET) and Fully Depleted SOI (FD-SOI) MOSFETs are anticipated to replace the current transistor architecture, and will be used in future CMOS technology nodes. Strained Silicon technology is widely used today to boost transistor performances. Thus it’s technically important to examine the strain-induced performance enhancement in these thin body transistors, and within nanometer channel lengths.

A comprehensive study on impact of channel stress on ultra-thin-body FD-SOI MOSFETs is presented. It’s found that strain-induced mobility enhancement diminishes with Silicon body thickness scaling below 5nm for electrons, but not for holes. Strain-induced carrier transport enhancement is maintained with gate-length scaling. By applying forward back biasing (FBB) through a ultra-thin Buried Oxide layer, both carrier mobilities and their responses to strain get enhanced.

For the of Multiple-gate FETs, the impact of performance enhancement through various types of stressors (including CESL, SiGe Source/Drain, Strained SOI and Metal Gate Last process) is studied, for different fin crystalline orientations and aspect ratios, to provide guidance for 3-D transistor design optimizations.

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 6,000 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 DOE 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.