New NSF Award Supports Continued Operations at JICS

The Joint Institute for Computational Sciences (JICS), a partnership between UT and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), has received $3 million in new funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to continue to provide advanced computing resources through July 2016. The NSF award covers management and operation of machines called Darter and Beacon.

“By virtue of this award to sustain advanced computing resources for a wide spectrum of researchers across the country, JICS is also able to make available these same resources to UT researchers,” said JICS director Tony Mezzacappa.

“Darter and Beacon are diverse and powerful and yet easy to use. They can support not only research in the physical sciences but also in other disciplines, such as the social sciences. The resources we maintain are capable of meeting a variety of needs: high-performance computing (HPC), large-memory computing, high-throughput computing, and more.”

The National Institute for Computational Sciences, one of NSF’s national advanced computing centers and operated by JICS, deploys Darter.

The machine has a peak performance of 240.9 x 1012 (approximately 241 trillion) floating-point operations per second. One floating-point operation is the equivalent of multiplying, adding, subtracting, or dividing two fifteen-digit numbers.

Darter is housed at ORNL near Titan, the second most powerful computer in the world.

“Darter can be used as an HPC platform, where one uses the whole platform for one job, or as a high-throughput computing platform, where one runs many smaller jobs at once,” said Mezzacappa. “It can also fulfill an intermediary role toward running on resources designed for the largest computing jobs, such as Titan, the second most powerful computer in the world, and Summit, the third evolution of ORNL’s supercomputers, set to come online in 2017.”

Beacon is a very powerful, versatile computing cluster that uses traditional central processing units and Intel Xeon Phi coprocessors. Such coprocessors can perform certain kinds of computations very quickly, thereby “accelerating” many different applications. Equally important, Beacon provides a large amount of memory to the computations performed on it, making it well suited to meet the needs of users with large-memory computing jobs.

From a human perspective, JICS houses a number of computational scientists, who are science and engineering domain experts, across a broad range of domains. They serve as an ideal bridge between researchers and the resources. The remaining staff members within JICS provide the foundational support necessary for users and the facility.

“In its accelerated efforts to engage UT campus, JICS has already helped a number of research groups,” said Mezzacappa. “The combination of advanced computing resources and a national-class staff of experts has been greatly enabling for researchers on campus with whom we’ve collaborated.

“My experience is that everyone on the UT campus who relies on computing for research can benefit from what JICS has to offer. My hope is they will come to us so we can bring our significant resources and expertise to bear on their work. Everyone, at all levels of computing and for all types of computing, can benefit from advanced computing. We need to demolish the stereotypes that have kept people away from taking advantage of JICS.”

C O N T A C T :

Scott Gibson (865-865-574-8650, wscottgibson@tennessee.edu)