Supercomputing and Computation

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Joint Institute for Computational Sciences


The University of Tennessee (UT) and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) established the Joint Institute for Computational Sciences (JICS) in 1991 to encourage and facilitate the use of high-performance computing in the state of Tennessee. When UT joined Battelle Memorial Institute in April 2000 to manage ORNL for the Department of Energy (DOE), the vision for JICS expanded to encompass becoming a world-class center for research, education, and training in computational science and engineering. JICS advances scientific discovery and state-of-the-art engineering by

  • taking full advantage of the computers at the petascale and beyond housed at ORNL and in the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF) and
  • enhancing knowledge of computational modeling and simulation through educating a new generation of scientists and engineers well versed in the application of computational modeling and simulation to solving the world’s most challenging scientific and engineering problems.

JICS is staffed by joint faculty who hold dual appointments as faculty members in departments at UT and as staff members in ORNL research groups. The institute also employs professional research staff, postdoctoral fellows and students, and administrative staff.

The JICS facility represents a $10M investment by the state of Tennessee and features a state-of-the-art interactive distance learning center with seating for 66 people, conference rooms, informal and open meeting space, executive offices for distinguished scientists and directors, and incubator suites for students and visiting staff.

The JICS facility is a hub of computational and engineering interactions. Joint faculty, postdocs, students, and research staff share the building, which is designed specifically to provide intellectual and practical stimulation. The auditorium serves as the venue for invited lectures and seminars by representatives from academia, industry, and other laboratories, and the open lobby doubles as casual meeting space and the site for informal presentations and poster sessions, including an annual 200+ student poster session.

In June 2004, JICS moved into a new 52,000 ft2 building next door to the OLCF. The OLCF, which is located on the ORNL campus, is among the nation’s most modern facilities for scientific computing. The OLCF includes 40,000 square feet divided equally into two rooms designed specifically for high-end computing systems.

Within JICS, there are three other centers that are the result of three large National Science Foundation (NSF) awards:

The National Institute for Computational Sciences (NICS) at the University of Tennessee is the product of a $65M NSF Track 2B award. The mission of NICS is to enable the scientific discoveries of researchers nationwide by providing leading-edge computational resources and education, outreach, and training for underrepresented groups. Kraken, the fastest, most powerful supercomputer for academic use, is the flagship NICS computing resource.

The UT Center for Remote Data Analysis and Visualization (RDAV) is sponsored by NSF through a 4-year, $10 million TeraGrid XD award. The centerpiece hardware resource at RDAV is Nautilus, a new SGI UltraViolet shared-memory machine featuring 1,024 cores and 4 terabytes of memory within a single system image. A wide range of software tools is available for TeraGrid users to perform data analysis, visualization, and scientific workflow automation on Nautilus. The machine is located at ORNL and is administered by NICS staff.

The Keeneland Project is a 5-year, $12 million Track 2 grant awarded by NSF for the deployment of an experimental high-performance system. The Georgia Institute of Technology and its project partners, UT-Knoxville and ORNL, have initially acquired and deployed a small, experimental, high-performance computing system consisting of an HP system with NVIDIA Tesla accelerators attached. The machine is located at ORNL and is administered by NICS staff.

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