May 2006
Designing and Supporting Science-Driven Infrastructure
Timothy L. Killeen, National Center for Atmospheric Research
Horst D. Simon, NERSC Center Division, Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of California

1. Introduction

The National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) are two computing centers that have traditionally supported large national user communities. Both centers have developed responsive approaches to support these communities and their changing needs by providing end-to-end computing solutions. In this report we provide a short overview of the strategies used at our centers in supporting our scientific users, with an emphasis on some examples of effective programs and future needs.

2. Science-Driven Computing at NERSC
2.1 NERSC’s Mission

The mission of NERSC is to accelerate the pace of scientific discovery by providing high performance computing, information, data, and communications services for research sponsored by the DOE Office of Science (DOE-SC). NERSC is the principal provider of high performance computing services for the capability needs of Office of Science programs — Fusion Energy Sciences, High Energy Physics, Nuclear Physics, Basic Energy Sciences, Biological and Environmental Research, and Advanced Scientific Computing Research.

Computing is a tool as vital as experimentation and theory in solving the scientific challenges of the 21st century. Fundamental to the mission of NERSC is enabling computational science of scale, in which large, interdisciplinary teams of scientists attack fundamental problems in science and engineering that require massive calculations and have broad scientific and economic impacts. Examples of these problems include global climate modeling, combustion modeling, magnetic fusion, astrophysics, computational biology, and many more. NERSC uses the Greenbook process1 to collect user requirements and drive its future development.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) operates and has stewardship responsibility for NERSC, which, as a national resource, serves about 2,400 scientists annually throughout the United States. These researchers work at DOE laboratories, other Federal agencies, and universities (over 50% of the users are from universities). Computational science conducted at NERSC covers the entire range of scientific disciplines but is focused on research that supports DOE’s missions and scientific goals.

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Reference this article
Killeen, T. L., Simon, H. D. "Supporting National User Communities at NERSC and NCAR," CTWatch Quarterly, Volume 2, Number 2, May 2006. http://www.ctwatch.org/quarterly/articles/2006/05/supporting-national-user-communities-at-nersc-and-ncar/

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