1700 Science and Cyberinfrastructure in the Data-Dominated Era

Monday, February 22, 2010: 9:45 AM
Room 11B (San Diego Convention Center)
Larry Smarr , University of California, San Diego, CA
The NSF Supercomputer Centers program not only directly stimulated a hundred-fold increase in the number of U.S. university computational scientists and engineers, but it also facilitated the emergence of the Internet, Web, scientific visualization, and synchronous collaboration.  I will show how two NSF-funded grand challenges, one in basic scientific research (cosmological evolution) and one in computer science (super high bandwidth optical networks) are interweaving to enable new modes of discovery. Today we are living in a data-dominated world where supercomputers and increasingly distributed scientific instruments generate terabytes to petabytes of data. It was in response to this challenge that the NSF funded the OptIPuter project to research how user-controlled 10Gbps dedicated lightpaths (or “lambdas”) could provide direct access to global data repositories, scientific instruments, and computational resources from “OptIPortals,” PC clusters which provide scalable visualization, computing, and storage in the user's campus laboratory. The use of dedicated lightpaths over fiber optic cables enables individual researchers to experience “clear channel” 10,000 megabits/sec, 100-1000 times faster than over today’s shared Internet—a critical capability for data-intensive science. The seven-year OptIPuter computer science research project is now over, but it stimulated a national and global build-out of dedicated fiber optic networks. U.S. universities now have access to high bandwidth lambdas through the National LambdaRail, Internet2's Dynamic Circuit Services, and the Global Lambda Integrated Facility. A few pioneering campuses are now building on-campus lightpaths to connect the data-intensive researchers, data generators, and vast storage systems to each other on campus, as well as to the national network campus gateways.  I will show how this next generation cyberinfrastructure is being used to support cosmological simulations containing 64 billion zones on remote NSF-funded TeraGrid facilities coupled to the end-users laboratory by national fiber networks.  I will review how increasingly powerful NSF supercomputers have allowed for more and more realistic cosmological models over the last two decades. The 25 years of innovation in information infrastructure and scientific simulation that NSF has funded has steadily pushed out the frontier of knowledge while transforming our society and economy.
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