XSEDE Science Successes
Decades of Making Impossible Research Possible
Decades of Making Impossible Research Possible
National Science Foundation long-term investments in supercomputing and supercomputing centers enable super-discoveries
Published December 19, 2016 by Aaron Dubrow in the Huffington Post
In 1985/1986, the National Science Foundation (NSF) committed to "making impossible research possible" by funding five supercomputer centers:
- The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign;
- The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC) at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh;
- The San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at the University of California, San Diego;
- The Cornell Theory Center at Cornell University (later to become the Cornell University Center for Advanced Computing);
- The John von Neumann Center at Princeton University (which was discontinued after 5 years).
These centers, which celebrated their 30th anniversaries this year, have served as cornerstones of the nation's high-performance computing and communications strategy. They helped push the limits of advanced computing hardware and software, even as they provided supercomputer access to a broad cross-section of academic researchers, enabling the study of everything from subatomic particles to the structure of the early universe.
In the intervening years, NSF has supported new centers and university programs — including the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at the University of Texas at Austin and the National Institute for Computational Sciences (NICS) at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville — as well as major programs at Indiana University, Purdue, Rice University and many other leading research institutions.
To make sure these centers and the resources they deployed were knit together into a unified whole, NSF also made major investments in programs like the Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (1997-2004), TeraGrid (2005-2010) and most recently the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) (2011-present).
Whenever computational researchers outgrow the resources of their lab or home institutions, they can turn to the national cyberinfrastructure and access capabilities hundreds or even thousands of times more powerful than any single scientist has access to.
The cumulative impact of these investments has been enormous, enabling tens of thousands of researchers from hundreds of institutions to make discoveries that would otherwise have been out of reach.
Below are 30 scientific discoveries, innovations and milestones enabled by NSF-supported supercomputing centers:
1986: NSFNET goes online, connecting five NSF-supported supercomputing centers. Initially created to link researchers to the nation's NSF-funded supercomputing centers, it ultimately evolves into the Internet.
1987: Alcoa uses PSC's first supercomputer to improve the design of the lightweight aluminum can. (PSC)
1988: University of Illinois physicist David Ceperley leads development of quantum Monte Carlo methods, a key method for studying complex quantum systems. (NCSA)
1989: Charles Keeling et. al. construct 3-D model of the terrestrial carbon cycle, confirming the importance of fossil fuel combustion in loading the atmosphere with carbon dioxide. (SDSC)
1990: Early molecular dynamics study of EcoR1— the enzyme that launched genetic engineering — shows it bends DNA to a surprising degree. (PSC)
1991: 3D volumetric rendering unravels 2,000-year-old mummy's secrets. (NCSA)
1992: SDSC launches Supercomputer Teacher Enhancement Program (STEP) — a forerunner to the award-winning TeacherTech program that has introduced hundreds of thousands of elementary school students to computational science. (SDSC)
1993: The world's first freely available Web browser originates from NSF-funded research. Called "Mosaic," it spurs a revolution in communications, business, education and entertainment that has had a trillion-dollar impact on the global economy. (NCSA)
1994: First realistic 3D model of blood flow in human heart developed, leading to design of artificial heart valves. (PSC)
1995: On February 15, 1995, SDSC researchers collaborate with federal agents to track down the "most-wanted computer criminal in the United States." (SDSC)
1996: Oscar-nominee Cosmic Voyage hits IMAX screens featuring visualizations by NCSA researchers. (NCSA)
1997: NSF's Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (PACI) initiative funds two massive programs, one led by NCSA and the other by SDSC, to develop a national-scale computational environment for multidisciplinary, collaborative problem solving. (NSF)
1998: First trans-pacific circuit launched connecting Pacific Rim research and education networks with their counterparts in the United States. Now in its third iteration, TransPAC3 is still in use today. (Indiana)
1999: Molecular dynamics simulations, led by J. Andrew McCammon at the University of California, San Diego, lead to the development of Isentress, an anti-AIDS drug marketed by Merck. (SDSC)
2000: Seminal study, cited by 2003 Nobel Prize recipient, shows how cell membrane protein aquaporin only allows water to pass through. (PSC)
2001: NSF awards $53 million to four U.S. research institutions — NCSA, SDSC, the University of Chicago Argonne National Laboratory and the Center for Advanced Computing Research (CACR) at Caltech — to build and deploy a distributed facility known as TeraGrid. (NSF)
2002: Caterpillar wins 2002 Private Sector Partnership Grand Challenge Award for their development of two visualization patents based on collaborations with NCSA. (NCSA)
2003: The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) uncovers changes in mass distribution of the Earth resulting from climate effects. (TACC)
2004: Earthquake scientists and computer scientists produce the most detailed simulation of what might happen during a major earthquake on the southern San Andreas Fault. (SDSC)
2005: With five-year, $150 million award from NSF, TeraGrid launches, heralding a new era for scientific computing. (NSF)
2006: Team led by University of Illinois researcher Klaus Schulten simulates an entire life form for the first time. (NCSA)
2007: Astrophysicist Volker Bromm and his team model the first billion years of the universe, shedding light on the cosmic past and future. (TACC)
2008: During Hurricane Ike, researchers use the Ranger supercomputer to develop storm surge forecasts and safeguard coastal communities. (TACC)
2009: Researchers use advanced computing to show how individual social security numbers can be guessed from public information on the Web. (PSC)
2010: Researchers aid oil spill containment effort after Deep Water Horizon explosion using satellite and supercomputing technologies. (TACC, LONI)
2011: Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) awarded $121 million by NSF to bring advanced cyberinfrastructure, digital services and expertise to the nation's scientists and engineers. (NSF)
2012: University of Illinois researchers use PSC systems to show how large-scale traders used small stock purchases to game the system; discovery leads to rule changes in the NYSE and NASDAQ exchanges. (PSC)
2013: 3D image data enables University of South Carolina researchers to create patient-specific tissue structures. (NICS)
2014: A widely published global genome study using XSEDE resources and expertise shows how avian lineages diverged after the extinction of dinosaurs. (SDSC, NICS, TACC)
2015: Wake Forest researchers publish virtual crash test study, helping auto manufacturers design safer vehicles and restraint systems. (PSC)
2016: XSEDE resources from TACC and SDSC help confirm discovery of gravitational waves by Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors.
NCSA, UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT URBANA-CHAMPAIGN A Cray supercomputer in the mid-1980s at the National Center for Supercomputer Applications, located at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
TERAGRID The NSF-supported collaboration, commonly called the TeraGrid, prototyped a widely shared, comprehensive cyberinfrastructure for academic research and education.
NSF The first large-scale implementation of Internet technologies in a complex environment of independently operated networks, NSFNET was an intellectual leap and forced the Internet community to solve technical issues arising from the rapidly increasing number of computers.
NCSA 3D volumetric rendering of an Egyptian mummy.
NCSA NCSA Mosaic 1.0, the first web browser to achieve popularity among the general public.
SDSC Computer security expert and SDSC senior research fellow, Tsutomu Shimomura, helps take down Kevin Mitnick, a fugitive computer criminal.
SDSC Molecular dynamics simulations, led by J. Andrew McCammon at UCSD, lead to the development of Isentress, an anti-AIDS drug marketed by Merck.
SDSC AND SCEC A visualization showing the displacement of the surface of California along the San Andreas fault based on a magnitude 7.7 earthquake.
GREGORY P. JOHNSON, ROMY SCHNEIDER, JOHN CAZES, KARL SCHULZ AND BILL BARTH, THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN; FRANK MARKS, NOAA; FUQING ZHENG, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA; YONGHUI WENG, TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY A visualization of Hurricane Ike shows the storm developing in the Gulf of Mexico and making landfall at the Texas coast.
WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY CENTER FOR INJURY BIOMECHANICS Simulations on the Blacklight system at PSC provided new insight into crash injuries, enabling better protections.
R. HURT/CALTECH-JPL An artist's impression of gravitational waves generated by binary neutron stars, discovered by LIGO in 2016. Supercomputers helped confirm the discovery.
- XSEDE Resources, Trinity Enable Non-Human Primate Reference Transcriptome Resource to Support Study of Genes in Our Closest Relatives
- Turtle Tree of Life
- Region 1 Champions meet at Idaho National Laboratory
- Crash test simulations expose real risks
- NSF supports development of new arctic maps
- How was the planet Earth formed?
- Exploring Large Data for Scientific Discovery
- XSEDE Value Added
- Scholars program helps realize dream
- Making sense of cyberinfrastructure
- XSEDE15 Wrap Up
- Bioinformatics Scripts Solutions
- XSEDE15 Plenary Panel
- Polymer Potential
- The Future of NSF Advanced Computing Infrastructure
- 2015 International Summer School on HPC Challenges
- A Catalyst for Complexity
- As Austin Grows So Does Its Traffic Woes
- The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Wins Second Place in an International Student Supercomputing Competition
- PSC Receives NSF Award for Bridges Supercomputer
- Innovative New Supercomputers Increase Nation's Computational Capacity and Capability
- Exploring Competitive Balance
- A Direct Bridge
- The Dopamine Transporter
- XSEDE Supercomputers Laid the Foundation for an Unprecedented Simulation of Cosmological Evolution
- Big Data Needs Big Funding
- XSEDE helps create a more effective way to assemble genomic information
- Of Micelles and Machines
- XSEDE Allocation System to Receive Makeover
- Internet2: Advancing Science in the Age of Big Data
- XSEDE User Portal At Your Fingertips: Mobile App
- Researchers Study Air Pollution
- Dan Stanzione: New Executive Director at TACC
- People of XSEDE: Campus Champions - Preaching the HPC Gospel
- XSEDE and Blue Waters Go Supernova
- Two at a Time
- Show Him the Money
- Cosmic Slurp
- Turning Salt into the Unknown
- Looking Inside Images
- Farming the Wind
- Breaking out of the Digital Graveyard
- The Mechanism of Short-term Memory
- Open Science and Industry Collaboration
- XSEDE, Prace Call for Requests of Joint Support
- XSEDE Wins HPCWire Award
- Shields to Maximum, Mr. Scott
- The Ultimate Timekeeper
- Blue Waters, XSEDE sign collaborative agreement
- People of XSEDE - Outreach programs set XSEDE apart
- Wrangler Reels in Award
- The Great Comet: NSF awards $12 Million Grant to SDSC to deploy Comet
- Meet the Gribbles
- 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry winners bring HPC to the lab
- XSEDE helps create a more effective way to assemble genomic information
- XSEDE facilitates large-scale image analysis to understand diseases
- XSEDE announces new campus briding services and tools
- XSEDE, NSF Release Cloud Survey Report
- XSEDE13: Programming Competition Allows Students to "Geek Out" and Gain Crucial Skillsets
- Katlin Thaney gave XSEDE13 Keynote: Gateways for Open Science
- XSEDE13 conference selects best papers, posters visualizations and more
- XSEDE13 speaker tells how turbulence simulations help make movie magic
- XSEDE13 Plenary Talk: Accelerating Brain Research with Supercomputers
- Invited speakers announced for Extreme Scaling Workshop - Heterogenous Computing
- XSEDE13 speaker LeManuel "Lee" Bitsóí: Democratizing Scientific Research
Read more about Bitsóí's talk at this year's conference
- More than 70 students from 4 continents gain HPC skills at fourth annual Summer School
- Registration opens for Extreme Scaling Workshop 2013
- Campus Champions Fellows Named
- Campus Champions program reaches 200 members
- Rock Snot Genomics: University of Texas researchers use advanced sequencing and TACC's Ranger supercomputer to uncover origin of common algae
- Experiencing some turbulence: Researchers Take on One of Physics' Most Important and Enduring Problems
- Register now for Virtual School summer courses on data-intensive and many-core computing
- XSEDE seeks a Scientific Workflow Specialist for Extended Collaborative Support Service
Applications are due May 31, 2013
- XSEDE13 schedule now available online
- Students from high school to grad school levels invited to participate in programming contest at XSEDE13 high performance computing conference
- SDSC's Gordon enables discoveries in the study of genetics Read about Gordon's role in pinpointing the genetic patterns underlying autism-spectrum disorders, schizophrenia and similar brain conditions.
- XSEDE, National Computational Science Institute offer summer workshops for educators
- XSEDE13 Student Day applications due May 15 High school and undergraduate students get hands-on experience in computational science and interact with expert researchers
- XSEDE upgrades to Internet2's 100G Network
- XSEDE13 Registration now open!
- Get to know XSEDE Staff XSEDE Allocations Manager Ken Hackworth: The Man, The Myth, The Legend
- Two sponsors commit to XSEDE13 conference: Cray and Intel .
- Texas Unleashes Stampede
- Swirling Secrets-Understanding the turbulence of gases
- Blacklight helps researchers develop better materials for carbon capture
- Journey to the limits of spacetime
- Students invited to participate in XSEDE13 Multiple ways for high school, undergraduate, and graduate students to get involved; funding support available.
- XSEDE Call for Humanities, Arts and Social Science ProjectsIf you and your collaborators need to access to large collections of digital data, need more computer power, or require substantial storage capacity and computing power – please share it with XSEDE.
- XSEDE needs your feedback! If you received an invitation to complete the 2013 User Satisfaction Survey, please take 10 minutes today to share your comments about the XSEDE user experience.
- XSEDE deploys Globus Online for data transfer The first official software service on XSEDE has been accepted for production deployment
- The Stampede Era Begins XSEDE supercomputer now operational and available to the national open science community
- Call for ParticipationInternational Summer School on HPC Challenges in Computational Sciences
- XSEDE, European Grid Infrastructure seek collaborative use cases
Deadline extended to March 8!
- XSEDE offers free online parallel computing course Learn to use parallel computers more efficiently and productively
- NICS makes the top of Green500 list XSEDE partner recognized for energy-conscious high-performance computer, Beacon
- XSEDE's John Towns appointed to Compute Canada board of directors Board includes leaders in industry, academia, and computational research
- STILL ACCEPTING RESPONSES to Cloud Use Survey from XSEDE, NSF All researchers encouraged to respond and help shape future of cloud computing in XSEDE
- Make room for Stampede: TACC expands data center for new supercomputer
Read more about the new data center at TACC
See TACC Deputy Director, Dan Stanzione describe the new center
- SDSC welcomes Gordon supercomputer as a research powerhouse
Read more about SDSC's Gordon
- Campus Bridging Early Adopter Program issues Call For Proposals to be submitted Dec. 1-9
Read more about the program
- XSEDE12 announced -- first conference of Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment
Read more about XSEDE12
- PSC, SGI Team Up on Shared-Memory Supercomputer
Read more about PSC's shared-memory supercomputer
- Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center Wins High-Performance Computing Award
Read more about PSC
- Blacklight Goes to Work at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center
Read more about Blacklight
- Ranger supercomputer's lifespan extended one year as part of NSF XD initiative.
Read more about Ranger
- Kraken set to deliver 2 billionth CPU hour, sustains 96 percent utilization
Read more about Kraken
- TACC Offers New, Broader Computational Biology Software Stack to Open Science Community.
Read more about biology software stack
- ACM launches new Special Interest Group on High Performance Computing. Join by Nov. 18 for special rate.
Read more about the new SIGHPC
- 'What Are You Working on Today,' Ranger, Jaguar and iForge?
Read more about TACC's Ranger supercomputer
Read more about ORNL's Jaguar supercomputer
Read more about NCSA's iForge supercomputer
- Adventures with HPC Accelerators, GPUs and Intel MIC Coprocessors
Read more about experiences with new hardware
- Developing Scientific Computing Communities
Read more about development efforts
- Indiana University to create the National Center for Genome Analysis Support, which will be integrated with XSEDE resources
Read more about the NCGAS at IU
- Scientists use XSEDE/TeraGrid resources to determine how shock waves move through solids
Read more about 'super-elastic shock waves'
- XSEDE upgrades network
Read more about the XSEDE upgrade
- Richard Tapia, Rice University mathematician and professor and member of XSEDE outreach team, receives National Medal of Science
Watch the Oct. 21 webcast
Read more about Tapia's award
Learn more about Richard Tapia
- Stampede's comprehensive capabilities to bolster U.S. open science computational resources
Read more about Stampede
Watch a video of Jay Boisseau, director of TACC, discussing Stampede
- SDSC announces scalable, high-performance data storage cloud
Read more about SDSC cloud
- Appro and SDSC Gordon supercomputer to provide up to 35M IOPS
Read more about SDSC's Gordon
- Dr. Barry Schneider from the National Science Foundation to describe XSEDE in the Oklahoma Supercomputing Symposium keynote, Oct. 11-12
Read more about Dr. Schneider's keynote
Go to symposium site
- Students research solar cells with HPC
Read more about HPC and solar research
- Seeing Is Believing: Extreme Digital visualization and data analysis resources help researchers derive insights from massive data sets
Read more about Extreme Digital
- New "Memory Advantage Program" on Blacklight at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center
Read more about PSC's MAP
- XSEDE project brings advanced cyberinfrastructure, digital services, and expertise to nation's scientists and engineers
Read more about XSEDE
- Watch the John Towns video
- How XSEDE will facilitate collaborative science
Read more about XSEDE and collaboration