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Daphne Siefert-Herron
Pervasive Technology Labs at IU
dsiefert@indiana.edu
812-856-1242

Last modified: Tuesday, June 12, 2007

IU Data Capacitor enables collaboration for faster, better science

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 12, 2007

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- "Imagine being able to move 12 DVDs worth of data from your desktop machine onto a file system two states away in a single minute," said Stephen Simms during a presentation on Indiana University's Data Capacitor, a 535 RB Lustre file system designed to store and manipulate large data sets.

Imagine no longer.

IU's Data Capacitor has demonstrated since its opening weeks of production in April a single client transfer rate of 977 MB per second across the TeraGrid network. Data was copied from a single computer equipped with a 10 Gigabit Ethernet card from Oak Ridge National Laboratory to the Data Capacitor at IU's Bloomington campus.

These numbers, according to researchers involved, mean that the Data Capacitor and the high-speed TeraGrid network can move large data sets exceptionally quickly and very easily. Speed and ease allows collaboration among scientists at other institutions in ways that would have been essentially impossible in the past. And, more collaboration means the potential for faster, better science leading to discoveries in any number of fields.

"This technology has the potential to significantly change how scientists collaborate across distance," said Simms.

The outstanding transfer rate, which represents nearly 80 percent of the 10 Gigabit network's theoretical capacity, was reported by Simms during a talk entitled, "Wide Area File System Performance Using Lustre on the TeraGrid." The talk was given by him and collaborators from Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center at the TeraGrid '07 national conference held last week in Madison, Wis.

Since entering production in April, the Data Capacitor has supported several high-profile projects including the Linked Environment for Atmospheric Discovery (LEAD) Science Gateway, which provides meteorological data, forecast models and analysis tools for the interactive exploration, simulation and prediction of weather, and the WxChallenge, a collegiate weather forecasting competition. The Data Capacitor is also a key cyberinfrastructure component in an international federation of crystallography labs under the Common Instrument Middleware Project (CIMA).

"The Data Capacitor has been exceptionally valuable to the CIMA project," said principal investigator Donald F. McMullen, of the Pervasive Technology Labs at IU. "Its capacity and throughput allowed us to design and implement a system that supports data sharing and maintains workflows involving massive amounts of instrument data for about a dozen labs in the U.S. and around the world."

Data Capacitor principal investigator Craig Stewart, associate dean of research technologies and chief operating officer of the Pervasive Technology Labs at IU, stated, "The wide-area capabilities we have demonstrated for the Data Capacitor and the TeraGrid will enable IU to better support scientific workflows -- the end to end transformation of data into knowledge through use of advanced cyberinfrastructure."

The Data Capacitor was developed by a team from University Information Technology Services, the IU School of Informatics and Pervasive Technology Labs at IU, with financial support from the National Science Foundation. Project Co-principle investigators include Randall Bramley, Catherine Pilachowski and Beth Plale. Its architecture uses components manufactured by Data Direct Networks, Myricom and Dell. The Data Capacitor's Lustre filesystem is supported by Cluster File Systems.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under NSF Award Numbers CNS0521433, ACI-0338618l, OCI-0451237, OCI-0535258, and OCI-0504075. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

About UITS

University Information Technology Services (UITS) at IU, with offices on the Bloomington and Indianapolis campuses, develops and maintains a university-wide information technology environment to support excellence in research, teaching, outreach and lifelong learning. Through providing high performance computing, visualization technologies and network management, UITS contributes toward the advancement of multi-disciplinary research. It also supports research among hundreds of research and education institutions by providing network operations for several advanced networks such as Internet2.

About Pervasive Technology Labs

Pervasive Technology Labs at IU ( http://pervasive.iu.edu ), established in 1999 by a grant from Lilly Endowment, Inc., performs leading-edge research based on the ubiquity of information technology in today's world, creating new inventions, devices and software that extend the capabilities of information technology in advanced research and everyday life. Fundamental to its mission are efforts to attract, encourage, educate and retain Indiana's workforce of tomorrow, and to accelerate economic growth in the state through the commercialization of new inventions and by forming and supporting new startup companies. In carrying out its mission, Pervasive Technology Labs is helping IU maintain its position of international leadership in information technology research and, as a result, is helping to enhance the prosperity of the entire state of Indiana.

About TeraGrid

The TeraGrid, sponsored by the National Science Foundation Office of Cyberinfrastructure, is a partnership of people, resources and services that enables discovery in U.S. science and engineering. Through coordinated policy, grid software, and high-performance network connections, the TeraGrid integrates a distributed set of high-capability computational, data-management and visualization resources to make research more productive. With Science Gateway collaborations and education programs, the TeraGrid also connects and broadens scientific communities.