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Scientists Can Now Manage Research at NERSC and Elsewhere via One Access Point

May 1, 2007


The map shows the locations of more than 50 computing and storage sites that form the Open Science Grid.

More NERSC users can now launch  and manage their work at multiple computing sites by going through a centralized  grid, thanks to efforts to connect NERSC’s  systems to the Open Science Grid (OSG). 

The SGI Altix 350 visualization server,  named DaVinci, joined the OSG last  month, the latest in a long-range plan to  connect all NERSC supercomputers to the  grid, said Shreyas Cholia, a member of  the Open Software and Programming  Group at NERSC.  

Making NERSC part of the more than  50 sites in the United States, South  America and Asia that make up the OSG  will save valuable time and reduce  headaches for scientists who carry out their research at several computing facilities. Instead of dealing with different  authentication processes and software at  each site, the scientists can go through  the OSG to manage their computing jobs  and data files.  

“Being part of OSG gives scientists a  one-stop interface where they can run  and access all of the computing jobs,”  Cholia said. Nearly four dozen NERSC  users already have registered to use the  OSG.   Although the PDSF system at NERSC  has been part of the OSG for several  years, it’s primarily for projects in high  energy physics and nuclear science. 

Making other NERSC supercomputers  available over the OSG has been a priority over the past year. NERSC managers  tapped Cholia to work on integrating  OSG services and hired Jeff Porter to be  part of the OSG team that validates and  tests software tools. Bill Kramer,  NERSC’s General Manager, chairs the  OSG Council.  

Connecting NERSC systems to the  OSG requires bridging different pieces of  software and building a new infrastructure, particularly when some of the  NERSC computer architectures are new  to the OSG. Cholia is responsible for  examining the OSG software stack and  figuring out ways to support it, either  through using solutions already available  or by developing new ones.  

Porter, on the other hand, works on  making sure the software released by OSG several times a year can be  deployed without glitches. He runs validation tests and solicits feedback from  selected users who also get to run the  new tools over a testbed, or a small grid.  

In the next few months, Jacquard, the  Opteron cluster at NERSC, will join the  OSG. Adding Jacquard will bring parallel  computing resources to the OSG and  make such resources available for scientists who need to run MPI codes and  larger parallel jobs. Cholia and Porter  also are evaluating other NERSC systems such as Bassi and Franklin for the  grid.  

Having NERSC be part of the OSG helps the OSG to fulfill one of its goals—  attracting a greater variety of users from  different disciplines. NERSC hosts  research from a wide-range of scientific  communities, including life sciences,  material sciences, climate research and  chemistry.  

NERSC also has set aside computing  time specifically for projects carried out  over the OSG, part of an effort to attract  new research and users.  

“We are keeping up with the cutting  edge methods of how high-performance  computing is done,” Porter said.  

Learn more about the Open Science  Grid at

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.