RENCI partners on two DOE SciDAC awards

CHAPEL HILL, NC, September 11, 2006 — The Renaissance Computing Institute will play a key role in two national research projects that are among 30 computational science projects being supported by the Department of Energy’s Scientific Discovery (SciDAC) program.

The SciDAC awards were announced Sept. 7. RENCI will receive more than $1.6 million over the next five years for SciDAC-funded research designed to improve the performance of very large-scale computing systems and the scientific codes that run on them.

‘New scientific breakthroughs depend on having high-performance computing systems that are scalable, accessible, reliable and constantly rising in performance,” said RENCI Director Dan Reed, who is a co-principal investigator on the projects. “One of the ways RENCI enables scientific discovery is to collaborate with researchers on performance analysis and optimization and on making scientific applications run more efficiently on these systems.”

Both SciDAC projects are ongoing efforts that involve researchers across the U.S., and both are expected to provide knowledge that will help in the development of petascale computing systems—computers capable of performing quadrillions of calculations per second. The first petascale supercomputers are expected to be online by 2010.

RENCI’s two SciDAC collaborations are:

  • The Secret Life of Quarks, an effort to build and deploy a national computational infrastructure for studying Lattice Gauge Theory. The theory aims to understand the physical phenomena described by quantum chromodynamics, or QCD. QCD describes the strong interactions that bind protons and neutrons together to form the nuclei of atoms and its most elementary entities are quarks and gluons. QCD simulations are necessary to solve fundamental problems in high energy and nuclear physics.

RENCI’s role in the project, which is led by Robert Sugar of the University of California at Santa Barbara, is to adapt existing performance analysis tools to better study communication, computation and memory performance on QCD codes.

  • The Performance Engineering Research Institute (PERI) is a new SciDAC-funded center that builds on work done previously through the Performance Engineering Research Center (PERC). PERI will conduct performance research designed to make the transition to petascale systems smoother, so that researchers can benefit quickly from these ultra-fast machines.

RENCI’s PERI research will focus on applying performance analysis tools to performance issues related to very large-scale systems, including fault tolerance, run time adaptation, smart data management, and power conservation. Robert Lucas of the University of Southern California leads PERI.