By Jon Bashor, firstname.lastname@example.org
July 30, 1999
Berkeley Lab will be a key player in Department of Energy programs
aimed at making the Internet an even more useful tool for scientific
experimentation and collaboration than it is today.
Last month, the Department of Energy's Office of Advanced Scientific
Computing Research announced funding for 19 research
proposals, of which the Lab's Computing Sciences Directorate is
a partner in eight, with nearly $3 million in additional funding
for FY99 alone. The research program is part of the Next Generation
Internet (NGI) -- a multi-agency federal R&D program to develop,
test and demonstrate advanced networking technologies and applications.
NGI's goal is to take advantage of greater bandwidth to allow researchers
to quickly and easily access and exchange very large sets of data.
It is currently difficult to provide uniform access to data at various
sites and to allow researchers at different locations to combine
and use that data. NGI is aimed at providing the tools and technologies
to achieve that through the use of advanced networking technologies.
"What we're trying to do is prototype the computing and networking
environment in which scientists will be working in three to five
years," said Bob Lucas, head of NERSC's High Performance Computing
Research Department. "Our role in nearly half of all the DOE-funded
programs continues Berkeley Lab's tradition of leadership in networking,
which goes back to the early 1980s."
The initiative's first major thrust involves remote visualization
of large amounts of scientific data by researchers at different
institutions. The nationwide scientific community has only a few
research centers with supercomputers and large data-storage tape
archives, and far fewer scientific visualization centers. The goal
is to make these centers remotely accessible and easily usable by
scientists collaborating on projects nationwide.
"For example, we'd like to make it routine for researchers at Sandia
National Laboratories and the University of Wisconsin to view data
generated at Berkeley Lab," Lucas said.
Berkeley Lab is a partner in three such visualization programs
and the lead lab in two of them: developing a prototype environment
for remote, collaborative visualization of large combustion simulation
data sets; and developing visualization-sensitive network protocols.
Current models for combustion are not capable of handling the huge
amounts of data expected to be generated by the next generation
of supercomputers. This capability is important to help researchers
understand the mechanisms of combustion and to apply this knowledge
to solving engineering problems such as building cleaner, more efficient
Another NGI theme is developing a network infrastructure to share
and access data around the world. Lucas, quoting collaborator Richard
Mount of SLAC, describes this thrust as "competing with UPS to quickly
and efficiently ship bulky data around the country."
Said Lucas, "We will be developing the infrastructure giving users
transparent access to data, no matter where its stored. They'll
also be able to move it rapidly back and forth, say between SLAC
at Stanford and Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois."
Lucas also added that the Lab's achievements in high-performance
computing and networking contributed to the success of its proposals,
but even more convincing was the coordination with colleagues at
Argonne and Los Alamos national laboratories. Other collaborating
organizations include Lawrence Livermore and Sandia national labs,
the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Princeton University,
and the Universities of Illinois, Utah, Wisconsin, and Southern
"We coordinated our proposals in such a way that DOE received a
sum greater than the whole of the parts," Lucas said. "Each component
will make the others more effective and useful. We gave them both
excellent technical vision and solid partnerships."
DOE Announces NGI Funding
The Department of Energy announced this week that it is awarding
$15 million to researchers at 17 universities and nine DOE laboratories
for research on the Next Generation Internet.
Nineteen projects will be funded over three years. In addition
to Berkeley Lab, participating labs are Argonne, Brookhaven, Fermilab,
Los Alamos, Livermore, Sandia, SLAC, and the Thomas Jefferson National
Twelve projects are basic technology projects to develop the underlying
network architecture and monitoring technologies needed to support
scientific Internet traffic. Five will integrate and test the technologies
on DOE-related research and two are university testbeds to link
the new tools to researchers at universities.