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TACC Launches Global Academic Supercomputing Consortium to Work toward Solving Global Science Problems

The Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at The University of Texas at Austin today announced it has launched an international collaboration created to support the use of advanced computational technologies in solving the world’s most challenging science and engineering problems.

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AUSTIN, Texas—The Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at The University of Texas at Austin today announced it has launched an international collaboration created to support the use of advanced computational technologies in solving the world’s most challenging science and engineering problems.

The Global Academic Supercomputing Consortium (GASC) will create strategic alliances that build and strengthen global research and development, and promote educational collaborations in advanced computing.

"The University of Texas at Austin is one of the leading research institutions in the U.S.," said Juan Sanchez, vice president for research at the university. "As such, it is appropriate for the university to also lead in the development of partnerships with peer institutions around the world. As a leader in advanced computing, TACC looks forward to collaborating with other centers of excellence around the globe so we can jointly address the computational grand challenges faced by modern science and engineering. We are confident that these partnerships will also contribute to increasing public awareness of advanced computing on a global scale."

In addition to TACC, the inaugural members of the consortium are: High Performance Computing Center Stuttgart (HLRS) of the University of Stuttgart, Germany; Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan; Centro Nacional de Supercómputo, Instituto Potosino de Investigación Científica y Tecnológica (IPICyT), Mexico; Poznan Supercomputing and Networking Center (PSNC), Poland; Barcelona Supercomputer Center (BSC), Spain; Edinburgh Parallel Computing Center (EPCC), UK; and Centro Nacional de Calculo Científico (CeCalCULA), Venezuela.

TACC Director Jay Boisseau said, "Advanced computing technologies are crucial in advancing science, and increasingly, in improving the quality of life. These are universal goals with worldwide interest and effort. By sharing the best ideas and developments in advanced computing as rapidly as possible, GASC will help leading academic supercomputing centers achieve even greater impact in addressing the most important computationally challenging problems in science."

"As more powerful supercomputing systems and techniques enable effective modeling of complex, coupled systems such as the environment, the human body, manufacturing and distribution processes, and global economics and finance, our collaboration will help advance society and improve quality of life more rapidly as well," Boisseau said.

Advanced computational technologies include high performance computing systems, scientific visualization resources, massive data collection and storage systems, applications software, and advanced networking systems. GASC institutions support the development, deployment and utilization of all of these advanced computing technologies to enable researchers all over the world to address the most challenging computational problems.

"TACC is excited to collaborate with the global computational research community," said GASC Program Coordinator Melyssa Fratkin. "This consortium offers a unique opportunity to share knowledge, track technological advances and work together to enhance research, education and society worldwide." 

Michael Resch of HLRS in Germany said that international collaboration is vital because challenges in climate, energy and pollution, for example, are the same for everyone around the world. "We need a critical mass to create ideas and the consortium will help to bundle intellectual resources," he said.

Many factors, including costs of international travel, restrictions on funding for multinational teams and even difficulties in scheduling online meetings spanning time zones and languages, have historically made it more challenging to achieve such goals among international collaborators. The GASC program seeks to overcome these obstacles, taking advantage of collaborative computing environments that enable the coordinated, concurrent use of multiple resources and systems, and utilizing new methods of computing and collaboration.

GASC will allow researchers from its member organizations access to equipment and systems that they would not have otherwise. Jose Luis Moran-Lopez, a research fellow at The University of Texas at Austin, said that Mexico is a country with limited facilities for intensive calculations, and it is important for researchers at IPICyT to learn from other supercomputing centers.

"Our greatest challenge is to provide supercomputing facilities to our scientific and technological community nationwide, and to offer additional computational power through agreements with other supercomputing centers in the world," said Moran-Lopez. "This will allow the academic community to tackle problems that demand intensive computation, which are not possible to solve with Mexico’s local infrastructure."

"TACC has played a key role in the foundation of the National Supercomputing Center at the Institute for Scientific and Technological Research in San Luis Potosi," Moran-Lopez continued. "This center was born under the generous collaboration offered by The University of Texas at Austin to the research center at San Luis Potosi."

To cultivate these alliances, a select group of leading advanced computing centers, representing every region of the globe, will be invited to join GASC. Prospective GASC members must demonstrate an institutional commitment to promoting information sharing and support, working collaboratively in areas involving advanced computing technologies, and using complementary strengths to take advantage of opportunities to pursue programs of mutual interest.

GASC members achieve their goals of information and knowledge sharing through regular electronic communication, virtual meetings and joint workshops. Members use this baseline of communication to foster joint collaborative research, development and education projects. The success of GASC will be measured by the program’s ability to disseminate information about developments in different regions, grow and extend its memberships, foster new relationships with other academically based centers, share and extend its technological resources, and have a beneficial impact on the progress of science and engineering worldwide.

The first meeting of the consortium will take place at Supercomputing 2007 in Reno, Nevada.

For more information contact: Melyssa Fratkin, program coordinator, Texas Advanced Computing Center, 512-471-9961.