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


Science-Driven Services
The DOE computational science community, in all its disciplines, has been organizing itself into large multidisciplinary teams. This trend was driven by the DOE Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing (SciDAC) initiative, but has reached beyond the SciDAC teams. This trend has been driven by necessity as well as opportunity. The transformation became most apparent after massively parallel computers came to dominate the high end of available computing resources.

Technology trends indicate that the gap between the peak performance of next-generation systems and performance that is easily attainable could increase even more. NERSC has been focused on working with computational scientists to close this gap and help them scale their applications efficiently to current platforms. NERSC has formulated a science-driven services strategy that will address the requirements of these large computational science teams even more so than in the past, while at the same time maintaining the high level of support for all of its users.

Science-Driven Analytics
A major trend occurring in computational science is the flood of scientific data from both simulations and experiments, and the convergence of experimental data collection, computational simulation, visualization, and analysis in complex workflows. Deriving scientific understanding from massive datasets produced by major experimental facilities is a growing challenge.

In recent years, NERSC has seen a dramatic increase in the data arriving from DOE-funded research projects. This data is stored at NERSC because NERSC provides a reliable long-term storage environment that assures the availability and accessibility of data for the community. NERSC has helped accelerate this development by deploying Grid technology on all of its systems and by enabling and tuning high performance, wide area network connections to major facilities, for example the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Now, NERSC must invest resources to complete an environment that allows easier analysis and visualization of large datasets derived from both simulation and experiment. Our third new thrust in science-driven analytics will enable scientists to combine experiment, simulation, and analysis in a coordinated workflow. This thrust will include activities enhancing NERSC’s data management infrastructure, expanding NERSC’s visualization and analysis capabilities, enhancing NERSC’s distributed computing infrastructure, and understanding the analytical needs of the user community.

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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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