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Who Cares About High Performance Computing?. Jennifer Teig von Hoffman Boston University. Overview. High Performance and Grid Computing Access Grid Collaboration examples What might this mean for you and your work?. Excellent Examples Right Here.

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Who Cares About High Performance Computing?

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Who cares about high performance computing

Who Cares About High Performance Computing?

Jennifer Teig von Hoffman

Boston University



  • High Performance and Grid Computing

  • Access Grid

  • Collaboration examples

  • What might this mean for you and your work?

Excellent examples right here

Excellent Examples Right Here

  • The Tribal Virtual Network is one of my favorite, exciting examples of Access Grid in action

Think ahead

Think Ahead

  • Some of what I’ll discuss is already available at Tribal Virtual Network

  • Thinking now about other future technologies helps you be ready to take advantage of them when they become available to you

    • Innovative uses of new technologies may be attractive to funding agencies

What is high performance computing

What is High Performance Computing?

  • A branch of computer science that concentrates on developing supercomputers and software to run on supercomputers. A main area of this discipline is developing parallel processing algorithms and software programs that can be divided into little pieces so that each piece can be executed simultaneously by separate processors.

    • Source: Webopedia

High performance computing

High Performance Computing

  • What makes a “supercomputer” changes rapidly as computers keep getting more powerful

  • Your personal computer now is far more powerful than early supercomputers

Growth of computing power

Growth of Computing Power

Source: http://www.intel.com/research/silicon/mooreslaw.htm

Science drives most usage

Science Drives Most Usage . . .

  • Top 500 Supercomputers ranked online: http://www.top500.org

  • Many are at research labs, government facilities, etc

Electrical defibrillation

Electrical Defibrillation

  • Studying placement of implanted defibrillators with

    • Computational modeling

    • Visualization

  • Led by Boston U and Cardiac Pacemakers Inc

Source: http://scv.bu.edu/SCV/vizgal/defribnew/defribnew.html

Space weather

Space Weather

  • Developing a model for space weather effects that runs from the surface of the Sun to the Earth's atmosphere

  • Led by Boston U

Source: http://scv.bu.edu/SCV/vizgal/spaceweather/cism.html

But others use hpc too

. . . But Others Use HPC Too

Cultural heritage preservation

Cultural Heritage Preservation

  • Some organizations using Virtual Reality and digital imaging to preserve artifacts

  • An example: Cultural Heritage Imaging, http://c-h-i.org/

    • Digital photography and object movies

    • Panoramas

    • Polynomial texture mapping

    • 3D imaging

Seen at siggraph 2004

Seen at SIGGRAPH 2004

  • A recreation in Virtual Reality of restored ancient sites, including

    • 3D representations of objects

    • Lighting that simulates actual lighting of the times, which affects color perception

Digital scan of nara great buddha

Digital Scan of Nara Great Buddha

Source: Ikeuchi Lab, University of Tokyo, 2002;http://www.cvl.iis.u-tokyo.ac.jp/gallery_e/nara-hp/nara.html

Hipart at boston u

HiPArt at Boston U

  • High Performance Computing in the Arts, a collaboration between software developers and artists

Hipart s spirited ruins

HiPArt’s Spirited Ruins

  • Showcase of visual and auditory works created by invited artists in 1999

  • Relationships among virtual and physical objects

  • Multi-person, multi-site shared environment

And interest keeps growing

And Interest Keeps Growing

  • Seedbed Initiative at University of Illinois

    • http://www.uiuc.edu/initiatives/artsintech.html


    • http://shl.stanford.edu/HASTAC/

  • MARCEL Network

    • http://www.mmmarcel.org/

Grid computing definition

Grid Computing Definition

  • An ambitious and exciting global effort to develop an environment in which individual users can access computers, databases and experimental facilities simply and transparently, without having to consider where those facilities are located.

    • Source: http://www.realitygrid.org/information.html

Who cares about high performance computing


  • Internet: Sharing data

    • Files move by email, web sites, FTP sites, etc

  • Grid: Sharing resources

    • Computing power is shared across the networks, allowing many computers to work on a single problem collaboratively

Pc based example seti@home

PC-based Example: SETI@Home

  • You download a screensaver

  • When your screensaver is active, your otherwise-unused computer power is used to download and analyze radio telescope data



Nees grid


  • Sharing computer resources and instrumentation over the network to improve earthquake simulation and related engineering

Source: http://www.nees.org/

Access grid

Access Grid

What is the access grid

What is the Access Grid?

  • An ensemble of resources including

    • multimedia large-format displays

    • presentation and interactive environments

    • interfaces to Grid middleware and to visualization environments



The Access Grid is a trademark of University of Chicago

Many many groups of users

Many, Many Groups of Users

  • Tribal Virtual Network

  • Minority Serving Institutions Consortium

  • National Science Foundation

  • Art on the Grid

  • United Kingdom eScience Centers

  • . . . The list goes on and on!

Social and cultural events

Social and Cultural Events

  • Seminar on“beer-ology”

  • Drumming master class

  • Wedding (yes, for real!)

  • Friday “desktop buddy sharing”

Ag is grid middleware

AG is Grid “Middleware”


  • Designed for integration of grid applications into Virtual Venues

  • Programmers can develop applications that plug in


Basic image

Basic Image

  • By Dave Semeraro of NCSA

  • For sharing images of many formats

Shared rasmol

Shared Rasmol

  • Adapted by Bob Olson and Tom Uram of Argonne National Lab, based on RasMol

  • A tool for sharing simulations of protein molecules

Sc global 03 application steering by hlrs university of stuttgart

SC Global 03: Application Steeringby HLRS, University of Stuttgart

  • A Virtual Reality representation of a building design, shared alongside the Access Grid

Image courtesy of Internet2 Commonsmms://winmedia.internet2.edu/VB-on-Demand/AppSteering.asf

Sc global 03 karaoke grid by aist xing inc and waseda u

SC Global 03: Karaoke Gridby AIST, XING, Inc, and Waseda U

  • Karaoke over the Access Grid, from Japan

  • Technical issues only added to the humor

Image courtesy of Internet2 Commonsmms://winmedia.internet2.edu/VB-on-Demand/KaraokeGrid.asf

Collaboration example student interviews 2001 ongoing

Collaboration Example:Student Interviews, 2001-ongoing

The problem

The Problem

  • Graduate student applicants from China need to be evaluated for spoken English competency – but travel to/from China is expensive and often impossible

The solution

The Solution

  • Arrange series of interviews over Access Grid

  • Students travel to the closest participating site

    • Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics

    • Shanghai Jiaotong University

    • University of Science and Technology of China (Heifei)

Collaboration requires effort

Collaboration Requires Effort

  • Relationships were established, developed, and maintained at sites in China which were asked to host student interviewees

    • Organizational and financial issues

  • Language, cultural, time zone, vacation schedule barriers were overcome with effort on both sides

Technology is easy now

Technology is Easy, Now

  • Technical test sessions were held in preparation for each year’s series of interviews

    • Problems were easily identified and (mostly) addressed before interviews

  • Far more testing was necessary in 2001 than in 2003

Nobody likes time zones

Nobody Likes Time Zones

  • Interviews and test sessions were held at 7:00 AM EST, 8:00 PM in China

  • Technical staff needed to be there 30-60 minutes earlier

Change not so hard

Change? Not So Hard

  • Interviewers and interviewees were generally enthusiastic about the opportunity to conduct interviews this way

    • This despite the fact that students often had to travel many hours to get to AG nodes

  • Small technical and logistical glitches were generally well-accepted

    • Perhaps in large part because everyone knew the interviews were otherwise impossible

Lessons learned

Lessons Learned

  • Non-tech staff can develop collaborations highly reliant on tech

  • But to make this possible, technical and non-technical staff need to communicate clearly

    • “They’re on the network” may mean they have an AG node, or it may mean they have high bandwidth network – a big difference to tech staff!

So what does this mean for you

So . . . What Does ThisMean for YOU?

  • You know your work and needs best

  • I can bring my experience and enthusiasm

  • Let’s see if we can find the answer together over time

Questions to ponder

Questions to Ponder

  • Have these examples made you think of parallels in your work?

  • How would you hope to use Access Grid to enhance or develop collaborations at a distance?

  • How might you use other technology already at your disposal to support your work? Your personal life?

More questions to ponder

More Questions to Ponder

  • What technologies did you see today which you’d like to start thinking about how to use?

  • Are there connections you’d like to make with others in the HPC user and cyberspace community?

Events for info and networking

Events for Info and Networking

  • SC Global 2004, on the Access Grid and Windows Media Player

    • http://www.sc-conference.org/sc2004/scglobal.html

  • Supercomputing Conference

    • http://www.sc-conference.org/sc2004/

  • SIGGRAPH 2005 and beyond

    • http://www.siggraph.org/conferences/

  • Access Grid Retreat

Please contact me

Please Contact Me

  • Jennifer Teig von Hoffmanjtvh@bu.edu617-358-0033Boston University111 Cummington StreetBoston, MA 02215

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