Academic scientists and engineers use these resources and services - supercomputers, visualization and data analysis systems and tools, and data collections - to propel scientific discovery and improve our lives. They are a crucial part of research in fields like earthquake modelling, materials science, medicine, epidemiology, genomics, astronomy, and biology.
"Enabling scientific discovery through enhanced researcher productivity is our goal, and XSEDE's ultimate reason for being", explained Barry Schneider, a program director in the Office of Cyberinfrastructure at the NSF. NSF will fund the XSEDE project for five years at a cost of $121 million.
"For this sort of cyberscience to be truly effective and provide unique insights, it requires a cyberinfrastructure of local computing hardware at sites around the country, advanced supercomputers at larger centres, generally available software packages, and fast networks", Barry Schneider stated. "Ideally, they should all work together so the researcher can move from local to national resources transparently and easily."
XSEDE will replace and expand the TeraGrid project that started more than a decade ago. More than 10,000 scientists have used the TeraGrid to complete thousands of research projects at no cost to the scientists.
"The TeraGrid project established a means by which leading U.S. institutions worked together to enable advanced computational science", stated Jay Boisseau, director of TACC at The University of Texas at Austin, one of the leading partners in the new XSEDE project. "The XSEDE project will go beyond that in several ways, including more powerful computing systems and more capabilities in other digital services."
TACC leads User Services for XSEDE, which includes allocations, user information and interfaces, user engagement, and training. The XSEDE User Portal (XUP), a functional extension of the TeraGrid User Portal, provides direct command line access to computational resources and data management tools, such as information about services, user jobs, accounts, projects, and allocations.
"TACC's unique portal expertise will continue to provide tools that enable researchers to utilize XSEDE almost as easily as they manage their personal on-line accounts at home", stated Maytal Dahan, manager of User Information and Interfaces at TACC. "Other than the continuing operation of systems and services, there was nothing was more critical to provide to users than the Web-based user portal."
Some of the upcoming XUP features include: in-portal chat with the help desk and integration of social media features, personalized views of XSEDE for each user and a more integrated ticketing system, among other features.
XSEDE will ensure that researchers can make the most of the supercomputers and tools. This will include outreach to new communities that have not traditionally used cyberinfrastructure and other digital services. It will also include advanced support for very large, complicated, or novel uses of XSEDE resources.
"TACC is proud to continue its leadership role in providing world-class technologies through XSEDE", Jay Boisseau stated. "Our supercomputing, advanced visualization, and massive storage systems are among the most powerful in the world, and will enable XSEDE users to conduct transformative scientific research."
Initially, XSEDE will support 16 advanced computing systems across the country as well as other specialized digital resources and services to complement these computers. These resources will be expanded throughout the lifetime of the project.
The XSEDE partnership includes: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Carnegie Mellon University/University of Pittsburgh, The University of Texas at Austin, University of Tennessee Knoxville, University of Virginia, Shodor Education Foundation, Southeastern Universities Research Association, University of Chicago, University of California San Diego, Indiana University, Jülich Supercomputing Centre, Purdue University, Cornell University, Ohio State University, University of California Berkeley, Rice University, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research. It is led by the University of Illinois's National Center for Supercomputing Applications.