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ORNL Leads Effort to Improve Supercomputer Centers

Supercomputers provide researchers with powerful tools, but managing them can be quite difficult, says an ORNL researcher who heads a team working to fix the problem. Through an $11-million, ORNL-led project, a team composed of people from DOE labs, several universities, and industrial firms has created the Scalable Systems Software Center. The center, funded by DOE’s Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing Program, will address the lack of software for effective management of terascale computational resources, such as the ones being installed at ORNL and other sites around the country.

“DOE operates many of the world’s largest computers and computer facilities,” says Al Geist of ORNL’s Computer Science and Mathematics Division. “Today, each computer facility uses ad hoc and homegrown systems software solutions to, for example, schedule jobs and monitor the health of the supercomputers.

“The Scalable Systems Software Center provides the opportunity to create and support a common set of systems software for all the large computer facilities across the country. It’s a problem that the computer industry isn’t going to solve because business trends push the industry toward smaller systems aimed at Web serving, database farms, and departmental-sized systems.”

The vision and goal of the Center are to bring together a team of experts who, with industry involvement, can agree on and specify standardized interfaces between system components. The Center will also produce a fully integrated set of systems software and tools to effectively use terascale computational resources.

Researchers also plan to study and develop more advanced versions of the system tools to meet the needs of future – and even larger—supercomputers.

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Computer Science and Mathematics Division
DOE's Scientific Discovery Through Advanced Computing Program (SciDAC)

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