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September 2007

More power for the TeraGrid

Scientists able to analyze vast amounts of data

TRACE image

In this image, the turbulent solar atmosphere captured by NASA's TRACE satellite (Transition Region and Coronal Explorer) is overlaid with a mathematical model of one of the Sun's millions of oscillation modes, giving scientists a view of the structure and dynamics hidden inside the Sun. The cutout view shows the sharp boundary between the radiation-dominated interior of the Sun and the near-surface convective region. With help from the TeraGrid, scientists are now making similar measurements for other solar-type stars to provide a broader context for our understanding of the Sun. (Image courtesy Travis Metcalfe, HAO.)

In August, the nationwide TeraGrid got a major boost. Researchers using the TeraGrid can now tap into computing resources on CISL's powerful 2048-processor BlueGene/L system, nicknamed "frost." (NCAR computer names are spelled as one word with no capital letters because of Unix operating system protocols.) CISL will provide up to 4.5 million processor-hours of computing on frost annually to researchers who have received computing grants from NSF.

The TeraGrid is a collaborative effort that uses high-performance networks to integrate supercomputers, data archives, and data analysis facilities around the country. It enables researchers to process vast amounts of data that would not be manageable on smaller or isolated computing systems and to collaborate on especially challenging scientific questions.

"We are excited to be able to provide the TeraGrid community with access to this valuable collaborative resource," says Rich Loft, director of CISL's technology development division.

The frost system, which is operated in partnership with the University of Colorado, will be the second BlueGene/L system on the TeraGrid.

The TeraGrid is especially important for scientists like Travis Metcalfe (HAO), who studies Sun-like stars. The sheer volume of data he works with creates a scientific challenge of its own: finding an efficient way to process and analyze the observations. Travis uses the TeraGrid to analyze data on solar and stellar oscillations from satellites, as well as to validate the results by comparing them with ground-based observations.

"The advantage of the TeraGrid is that we can use many processors concurrently, which reduces the amount of time needed to analyze the data. This will be a crucial capability as new satellites start yielding even larger amounts of data," he says.

On the Web

General information about the TeraGrid

More about the collaboration between frost and the TeraGrid

In this issue...

A smoother ride

HAO's Phil Judge returns full-time after cancer

More power for the TeraGrid

Summer school—but not the remedial kind

Planning for retirement

SOARS poster session

Symposium salutes Warren Washington

Art + Science: EcoArts returns to Boulder area

UCAR ranks high in Colorado's Best Companies contest

Just One Look


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