A Message from SCD Director Al Kellie
Climate Modeling for IPCC
Phase III of the current Advanced Research Computing System (ARCS) was placed in service in FY2004, increasing net computing capacity by two teraflops. Phase III of ARCS expanded the IBM Cluster 1600 system (bluesky) by fourteen 32-way p690 Symmetric Multi-Processor (SMP) servers. Bluesky is now comprised of 50 POWER4 38 Regatta-H Turbo frames, making it the single largest system of this type in the world.
Twelve of these new servers were initially dedicated to NCAR's participation in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This new supercomputing capability proved essential in completing the IPCC simulations with the high-resolution version of the new Community Climate Simulation Model (CCSM3). Long control simulations, numerous historical recreations, and a wide range of future scenarios were carried out with NCAR's flagship coupled climate model at much finer horizontal resolutions than has ever been possible before.
Strong support by SCD staff allowed the CCSM group to run continuously throughout the experiment period, even during determined hacker attacks. The results of this experiment are now being analyzed by NCAR scientists, and the data are being distributed freely to the global climate change research community in time for the Fourth IPCC Assessment Report.
Bluesky contributed over 25 centuries of simulated climate to the IPCC effort -- more than half of all IPCC computing during this campaign. At the conclusion of the IPCC campaign in late FY2004, the 14 new p690 nodes were released to the community to augment SCD's computing capacity for all users. The current aggregate peak capacity of NCAR's supercomputing facility is now 12.1 teraflops distributed across six SMP computers.
Computing Security and Divisional Threat Response
In response to a major cybersecurity incident that involved multiple high-performance computing sites in March 2004, SCD rapidly developed and deployed a long-term solution for protecting the supercomputing and mass storage systems at NCAR. SCD now requires one-time password tokens, arbitrated via encryption devices issued to all users, to access these systems. Security procedures were updated and published to provide all users with guidelines and instructions for working within the secure supercomputing environment.
One of the problems encountered during the March 2004 incidents was a lack of effective communication among the affected institutions. SCD proposed a conference to bring together stakeholders from the nation's research and high-performance computing centers to prepare a coordinated response for future incidents.
With funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), SCD planned, organized, and hosted a two-day Cybersecurity Summit near Washington D.C. Attended by over 120 cybersecurity experts from some of the nation's leading research institutions, the summit explored the competing needs of having an open, collaborative research environment while protecting the security and integrity of its computing and data assets.
Cybersecurity Summit 2004 was the first step in laying the foundation for responding to future large-scale security breaches and reducing the disruptive impact of such incidents on the nation's research agenda. These research institutions are increasing their cooperation on security policies, procedures, and incident response to better protect the nation's scientific computing and data resources.
Other areas of significant advancement in FY2004
The Mesa Lab standby generators were commissioned and put into service. These twin generators provide an eight-hour window of emergency power to the NCAR Computer Room as well as the Mesa Lab's life-safety systems in case of electrical outages.
SCD entered the era of Linux cluster computing with the acquisition in FY2004 of a 256-processor e1350 AMD Opteron cluster from IBM. With a peak of 1.1 teraflops, this system outperforms bluesky on a processor-for-processor basis by roughly 40%.
In the area of experimental computer technology, SCD, in collaboration with the University of Colorado, won a $1.2M 2004 MRI grant from the CISE directorate in NSF. This money will be used to acquire a 1024-processor, 5.6-teraflops Blue Gene/L MPP system in FY2005. This system will be used to study the suitability of a variety of scientific applications and algorithms to Blue Gene/L.
SCD released new versions of the MySCD portal that provides, for the first time, customizable GAU charging information directly to our users.
Our Earth System Grid web portal was released in the summer of 2004. Designed for general use by the climate modeling community, it has already played a significant role in the IPCC activities of CCSM by allowing easy access to the latest CCSM data. Users may browse the data catalogs hierarchically, perform searches on metadata, download full files, or subset the virtual aggregated datasets.
Our Network Engineering and Telecommunication Section (NETS) built the local-area networking infrastructure in UCAR's new Center Green Campus, bringing that campus into full compliance with UCAR networking infrastructure standards.
SCD's staff has accomplished many more activities this fiscal year. As you read through this Annual Scientific Report, you will gain a greater appreciation of the level of innovation and support that SCD is committed to provide to NCAR, UCAR, and the greater atmospheric sciences research community. Behind these annual accomplishments is a level of infrastructure support that is literally without peer anywhere in the country. NCAR, as a national discipline-specific center, benefits enormously from the dedication and talented work of SCD's staff who work behind the scenes to ensure a state-of-the-art, balanced, end-to-end computing environment.
As we look forward to implementing SCD's new strategic plan, we reflect here on the accomplishments of this past fiscal year. As always, we seek to provide the finest in computing, research, data storage, networking, analysis, visualization resources, and user support to help advance the scientific understanding of our physical world.