UW Faculty Members Have Dec. 17 Deadline to Submit Large Allocation Requests to Use Supercomputer in 2013

October 25, 2012
NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center
University of Wyoming researchers have until Dec. 17 to submit their applications for core-hour use allocations on the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC) in 2013.

University of Wyoming faculty will fire up the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC) sometime next week, what with seven UW projects and more than 40 researchers and students using the technology for high-level computational science.

For UW faculty who want to use the powerful machine for their own computational modeling and research during 2013, it’s not too early to begin writing an application for core-hour use on NWSC’s computer, Yellowstone. This can be done for data analysis and visualization on the Caldera and Geyser systems, and for storage on NWSC’s Globally Accessible Data Environment (GLADE) or High Performance Storage System (HPSS) systems.

Applications are being taken now through the Dec. 17 deadline for the next proposal cycle, according to Bryan Shader, UW’s special assistant to the vice president of research and economic development, and a mathematics professor.

Applications and eligibility information can be accessed at https://www.uwyo.edu/nwsc. Eligible science areas include https://www.uwyo.edu/nwsc/eligibility/science_areas.html.

The Wyoming share of the NWSC resources is currently 75 million core hours of computing on Yellowstone; around 1 petabyte of high-performance storage on GLADE; and 5 petabytes of longer-term tape storage on HPSS.

Dave Hart, NCAR’s user support manager, will be on campus in late November. He will be available to answer questions about the NWSC application process and provide an introduction to using the NWSC resources.

“I encourage interested UW researchers to start now and come to the meeting with their questions,” Shader says. “We should use (Hart) as a sounding board to refine our proposals.”

Shader stresses that, for large allocation requests, researchers must conduct some benchmarking of their code in advance to be able to accurately estimate the number of core hours their projects will require on the supercomputer. UW faculty can conduct these preliminary tests using either Mount Moran, UW’s new campus research high-performance computing cluster; requesting a small allocation request at the NWSC; or through the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE), a supercomputing consortium designed for bioinformatics research.

NWSC small allocation requests are defined by those that require use of 200,000 core hours or less, or under 20 terabytes of storage, Shader says. To make a small allocation request, go to the small allocations request link on the sidebar at https://www.uwyo.edu/nwsc. Small allocation requests can be made now and are expected to be available Nov. 1, he says. No panel review of small allocation requests is needed.

“For large allocations, researchers need to convince an external panel that they plan to use the resource wisely,” says Shader, who explained the panel will want to know how many core hours are necessary to conduct the research and for storage. “Researchers accomplish this by showing that they’ve estimated computer times on a smaller scale, and have planned what set of computational experiments they need to run. At the end of the day, researchers want to have a complete set of data from which to analyze and draw conclusions.”

Research projects are submitted to the National Science Foundation (NSF) by the UW-NCAR Alliance (WNA) Resource Advisory Panel (WRAP). Projects are selected based on several criteria, including: scientific merit of the project; the need for supercomputing resources in the projects; the efficient use of computational and storage resources; and the broader impacts of the project (i.e., substantial involvement of both UW and NCAR researchers; strengthening of UW's research and education capacity; and  strengthening of university computational science capacity or research in a new or emerging area of earth system science). The NSF gives final approval of WRAP’s project selections, which are expected in early January.

For a story about current UW researchers using the supercomputer, go to https://www.uwyo.edu/news/2012/06/seven-uw-research-projects-chosen-for-first-cycle-of-supercomputer-use.html.

The NWSC was dedicated Oct. 15 at Cheyenne's North Range Business Park.

The NWSC is the result of a partnership among the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR); the University of Wyoming; the state of Wyoming; Cheyenne LEADS; the Wyoming Business Council; and Cheyenne Light, Fuel & Power. The NWSC is operated by NCAR under sponsorship of NSF.

The NWSC contains one of the world's most powerful supercomputers (1.5 petaflops, which is equal to 1.5 quadrillion mathematical operations per second) dedicated to improving scientific understanding of climate change, severe weather, air quality and other vital atmospheric science and geo-science topics. The center also will house a premier data storage (11 petabytes) and archival facility that holds historical climate records and other information.

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