NERSCPowering Scientific Discovery for 50 Years

LBNL to Lead Five Projects, Partner in Eight Others under DOE's Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing Program

September 7, 2006

BERKELEY, Calif. — Under the second round of the Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing (SciDAC) program announced today by the U.S. Department of Energy, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will lead five of the 30 projects and play a key partnership role in eight others.

The projects, supported under a second round of the DOE's Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing (SciDAC) program, known as SciDAC-2, will bring together some of the nation's top researchers at national laboratories and universities to create the software and infrastructure needed to help scientists effectively utilize the next generation of supercomputers for tackling the toughest scientific challenges — some of which can only be studied through high performance computation and simulation.

A hallmark of the SciDAC program is the creation of multidisciplinary teams, so many of the projects will result in funding collaborations with researchers at other national laboratories and universities. Berkeley Lab researchers and their collaborators will receive about $10 million per year in funding under SciDAC-2.

The SciDAC-2 projects, which involve researchers at 70 different institutions, include computational science projects aimed at accelerating research in designing new materials, developing future energy sources, studying global climate change, improving environmental cleanup methods and understanding physics from the tiniest particles to the massive explosions of supernovae.

“We are extremely proud that the rigorous review of SciDAC-2 proposals has resulted in such strong acknowledgment of Berkeley Lab's scientific leadership and expertise,” said Horst Simon, Associate Laboratory Director for Computing Sciences. “The LBNL-led projects from the initial five years of SciDAC helped produce significant achievements in fusion energy research, astrophysics, accelerator science, scientific data management and collaborative science across computing grids. With these new projects, we're poised to make even more contributions to helping DOE's research missions.”

Underscoring the need for SciDAC-2 is the ever-increasing power and capabilities of supercomputers. Today's largest supercomputers, with tens of thousands of processors, allow scientists to create detailed simulations by running applications at trillions of calculations per second, or teraflop/s. The next generation of supercomputers, expected to become available within three years, will have hundreds of thousands of processors and perform millions of billions of calculations per second, a level known as petaflop/s. Such supercomputers will allow scientists to simulate complex phenomena in unprecedented detail.

Here is a brief summary of the projects to be centered at Berkeley Lab:

The Scientific Data Management Center for Enabling Technologies will be led by Arie Shoshani of the Computational Research Division (CRD). This five-year project will build on work done under SciDAC-1 to improve methods for helping scientists manage and analyze the increasing volume and complexity of data produced by ultra-scale simulations and high-throughput experiments. The goal is to help researchers spend less time worrying about data and more time focused on science.

The Visualization and Analytics Center for Enabling Technologies, led by Wes Bethel of CRD, will address one of the greatest scientific and engineering challenges of the 21st century — to effectively understand and make use of the growing wealth of data to scientific advantage. This center will address this situation by adapting, extending, creating when necessary, and deploying technologies that will enable scientists to visualize and understand the copious data now available.

The Applied Partial Differential Equations Center for Enabling Technologies, led by Phil Colella of CRD, will build on accomplishments of the first round of SciDAC investments to support computational scientists who wish to use multiresolution tools to solve scientific problems in areas such as astrophysics, combustion and fusion. The center will also adapt their software to run on massively parallel supercomputers with thousands to hundreds of thousands of processors and to develop new adaptive mesh refinement capabilities.

The SciDAC Outreach Center, under the leadership of David Skinner, will be established at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing (NERSC) Center, DOE's flagship supercomputing center, at Berkeley Lab. The center will provide information and services that support SciDAC outreach, training and research objectives. The center will serve as a clearinghouse for SciDAC activities and resources and foster communication within the high performance computing (HPC) community. Additionally, the center will gather data to understand the needs of the HPC community to identify workshops, summer schools, institutes and research topics to meet those needs.

The Robust and Precise Gene Function Predictions on a Genomic Scale project, to be led by Steven Brenner of the Physical Biosciences Division, is a five-year project to refine algorithms to automate a process for predicting the functions of proteins in a family of microbes. By better understanding the function of these proteins, DOE hopes to harness the potential of microbial communities for the remediation of contaminated sites, development of smart sensors, and the bio-generation of hydrogen and ethanol.

Berkeley Lab Computing Sciences staff will also serve as co-investigators in eight other SciDAC projects addressing research issues in astrophysics, sharing and managing massive amounts of scientific data, developing software for next-generation supercomputers, developing new software tools for studying complex problems, and assessing and improving the performance of large-scale computers.

Berkeley Lab's Computing Sciences organization includes the NERSC Division, which operates high performance computing systems serving more than 2,500 scientists at national laboratories and universities across the country, and the Computational Research Division, which creates computational tools and techniques that enable scientific breakthroughs by conducting applied research and development in computer science, computational science, and applied mathematics.

About NERSC and Berkeley Lab
The National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) is a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science User Facility that serves as the primary high performance computing center for scientific research sponsored by the Office of Science. Located at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, NERSC serves almost 10,000 scientists at national laboratories and universities researching a wide range of problems in climate, fusion energy, materials science, physics, chemistry, computational biology, and other disciplines. Berkeley Lab is a DOE national laboratory located in Berkeley, California. It conducts unclassified scientific research and is managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy. »Learn more about computing sciences at Berkeley Lab.