A-Z Index | Phone Book | Careers

InTheLoop | 11.12.2001

The Weekly Electronic Newsletter for Berkeley Lab Computing Sciences employees.

November 12, 2001

Lab Team Seeking to Again Win Bandwidth Challenge at SC2001


A Lab-led team will again seek to capture top honors in the Bandwidth
Challenge to be held next week at the SC2001 conference in Denver. The
goal of the challenge, which is being chaired by NERSC Division Deputy
Director Bill Kramer, is to encourage high-bandwidth applications to
push the network infrastructure's multi-gigabit links to their limits
with demonstrations of leading-edge computer applications. During the
2001 High-Performance Bandwidth Challenge, teams of researchers from
around the world will use SCinet, the conference network, to demonstrate
applications using huge amounts of distributed data.

The competition was first held at SC2000, where two applications --
including one fielded by LBNL -- broke the gigabit-per-second limit.
Their story is featured in the latest issue of the Lab's Research
Review, distributed to employees last week. This year, organizers are
looking for useful applications to take advantage of OC-48 network
connections, capable of carrying up to 2.5 gigabits per second. The 2001
incarnation of SCinet will include multiple multi-gigabit (OC-48) links
to the show floor and connections to most high-speed national research
networks.

The Lab team, led by John Shalf of the Visualization Group, also
includes Wes Bethel (leader of last year's winning effort); Michael
Bennett and John Christman of the Networking and Telecommunications
Department; Eli Dart, Brent Draney and David Paul of NERSC; Peter Deiner
and Gabrielle Allen of the Albert Einstein Institute/
Max-Planck-Institute for Gravitation Physics in Germany;
Werner Benger of the Albert Einstein Institute/Konrad Zuse Institute in
Germany; Jim Ferguson of the National Center for Supercomputing
Applications (NCSA)/National Laboratory for Applied Network Research;
and Tony Rimovsky, NCSA.

Here's a short description of their entry, entitled, "Visapult:
WAN-Deployed Distributed and Parallel Remote Visualization":
Large-scale scientific simulations, such as dynamic gravitational fields
and fluid dynamics, often generate datasets that are impractical to
transfer to a workstation for visualization and analysis. Our approach
is to use multiple, distributed high-performance resources in a pipeline
fashion to achieve interactive, desktop 3D visualization of these large
datasets. Our demonstration will focus on two key application areas:
visualization of a large fluid dynamics dataset, computed at NERSC,
using a datagram-based remote data server coupled to the Visapult
visualization infrastructure, and direct coupling of a freely running
simulation to the Visapult visualization infrastructure using the Cactus
toolkit. We intend to reach instantaneous data rates in excess of 3.0
gigabits per second, and sustained data rates in excess of 2.0 Gbps. We
will launch the various components of this application using a specially
created prototype Web portal.

The LBNL-developed Visapult application, capable of volume rendering of
multi-gigabyte datasets at interactive rates, makes efficient use of
high-performance wide area networks as evidenced by its winning of last
year's bandwidth challenge. For this year's bandwidth challenge we will
couple a live feed of simulation data from the Cactus code with the
Visapult parallel volume rendering application. The combined application
will highlight cutting-edge physics, high performance networking,
terascale supercomputing, and high-performance visualization
applications capable of interactive manipulation of the massive
datafeeds produced by these resources.

The study of complex astrophysical phenomena involving strong dynamical
gravitational fields, such as the mergers of neutron stars and
collisions of black holes, requires the integration of computational
tools in many disciplines. The Cactus Computational Toolkit is a modular
parallel code framework that integrates the necessary computational
tools. Simulations of these phenomena will be especially important as
Gravitational Wave detectors such as LIGO and Virgo come online. The
results of these experiments will help validate or debunk Einstein's
General Theory of Relativity, which has remained solid despite more than
80 years of careful examination.


Lab Staff Again Add Expertise to SC2001 Conference Program


As in years past, Computing Sciences staff will be contributing their
expertise to various aspects of the annual SC conference. SC2001 is
being held this week in Denver and gives the Lab an opportunity to
showcase its capabilities and achievements. Here's a list of the
technical presentations to which CS staff are contributing:

* Andrew Canning of NERSC's Scientific Computing Group is a member of a
team competing for the fastest-running code and contributed to a talk on
"Multi-teraflops Spin Dynamics Studies of the Magnetic Structure of
FeMn/Co Interfaces." The team won the award, called the Gordon Bell
Prize, at SC98.
* Jason Lee, Alex Sim and Arie Shoshani, all of NERSC, are contributors
to a paper on "High-Performance Remote Access to Climate Simulation
Data: A Challenge Problem for Data Grid Technologies."
* Xiaoye "Sherry" Li of NERSC's Scientific Computing Group and Mark
Baertschy, formerly a grad student in Bill McCurdy's research group,
will present a paper on "Solution of a Three-Body Problem in Quantum
Mechanics Using Sparse Linear Algebra on Parallel Computers."
* Chris Ding and Helen He of NERSC's Scientific Computing Group are
giving a talk on "A Ghost Cell Expansion Method for Reducing
Communications Programs in Solving PDE Problems."


Beware of Bogus Security Information -- Hoaxes and Hype Abound on the Internet


A considerable amount of bogus information about security threats and
solutions is constantly being distributed on the Internet. Remember the
warning about the "Budweiser frogs screensaver" that circulated around
the Internet several years ago? This warning, which proved to be a hoax,
claimed that if you downloaded this screensaver, your system's hard
drive would be erased. A recent hoax message says that you can immunize
your system from Outlook worms by adding "!000" as the first entry in
the Outlook address book. Making this the first entry in the Outlook
address book really has only one advantage (a very small one at best) --
it can provide you with rapid notification (through an error message) in
case of a worm infection that works through the address book. But adding
this entry cannot immunize Outlook or any other program on your system,
nor can it protect your system itself from worm infections. Keeping your
anti-virus software up to date (see
http://www.lbl.gov/ITSD/Security/vulnerabilities/index.html), closing
any unprotected shares (see
http://www.lbl.gov/ICSD/Security/Systems/index.html for procedures for
deleting these shares in W9X systems), and ensuring that patches and hot
fixes are installed (see http://www.lbl.gov/download/) are the best ways
to prevent worm infections.

For more information about hoaxes visit go to
http://www.lbl.gov/ITSD/Security/vulnerabilities/hoax.html.


Lab Travel Office Adds Safety, Credit Card Info to Web Site


Here's the latest news from the Lab's Travel Office:

Safety Tips

Recent events have created a heightened awareness of safety issues for
travelers. A list of Travel Safety Tips has now been posted on the
Travel web site at
http://www.lbl.gov/Workplace/CFO-Travel/travel_safety_tips.html.
Although many of the tips refer to specific travel situations, most are
common sense guidelines addressing personal safety precautions for
everyday activities.

USBank Card FAQs

Answers to many frequently asked questions regarding use of the USBank
corporate card issued to Lab employees may now be found on the Travel
web site at http://www.lbl.gov/Workplace/CFO-Travel/USBankFAQ.html.


Enabling and Configuring System Auditing are Key Steps to Securing Your Computer


Here's a tip from the Computer Protection Program:
Appropriately configuring system auditing and examining its output are
two of the most important steps you can take in securing your system. A
new posting on the Computer Protection Program Web site describes
practical steps you can take to make auditing work for you in Unix,
Linux, Windows NT and Windows 2000 systems. See
http://www.lbl.gov/ICSD/Security/systems/auditing.html.


About Computing Sciences at Berkeley Lab

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) Computing Sciences Area provides the computing and networking resources and expertise critical to advancing Department of Energy Office of Science (DOE-SC) 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). NERSC and ESnet are both Department of Energy Office of Science National User Facilities. The Computational Research Division (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.

Berkeley Lab 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.

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