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Blue Waters Campus Initiative: Center for Extreme-scale Computation
Advanced modeling and simulation, data analysis and synthesis, and visualization capabilities provide an opportunity for breakthroughs in a broad range of research, from the traditional areas of science and engineering to emerging areas in the humanities, arts and social sciences. Blue Waters, currently being installed in the National Petascale Computing Facility at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, provides an unprecedented opportunity for the campus to bring the world's most advanced computing capabilities to bear on critical research challenges. To this end, Illinois established the Center for Extreme-scale Computation with the goal of creating a community of faculty and staff members who will further develop and use this extraordinary capability to address the most challenging problems in all areas of scholarship.
Blue Waters, when it becomes operational at the end of 2012, will be the most powerful computer system on a university campus. In recognition of Illinois' investments in the Blue Waters Project, the National Science Foundation allocated Illinois time on Blue Waters equivalent to a 800+ teraflops computer system. This allocation exceeds the computing resources available to any other U.S. university by an order of magnitude and provides Illinois with an unprecedented opportunity to advance its programs in computation-, data- and visualization-intensive research and education.
To take advantage of the opportunity created by Blue Waters, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has created the Center for Extreme-scale Computation (CESC) in NCSA's Institute for Advanced Computing Applications and Technologies. The goals of the Center are to:
- Build a community of faculty, staff and students that positions Illinois for leadership in petascale and beyond computation, data and visualization research.
- Develop petascale research applications and use Blue Waters to help solve the most pressing problems in research areas of importance to Illinois and the nation.
- Develop computing systems software and tools that will enable researchers to make full use of Blue Waters and help ensure its success.
To help achieve these goals, the Provost and CESC will help the colleges recruit up to ten new faculty members. Faculty at all levels will be sought. We anticipate that some, but not all of these faculty members will be part of the Illinois Strategic Excellence Hiring Program. The Blue Waters Campus Initiative will begin in the Fall of 2012 and continue for up to three years.
Center for Extreme-scale Computation
The Center for Extreme-scale Computing (CESC) will bring together faculty, staff and students from across the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to build the multidisciplinary teams necessary to achieve the breakthroughs promised by petascale computing. Many fields of research can benefit from the capabilities of Blue Waters. The following are a few examples of potential areas of research:
- Computational simulation will play a critical role in understanding and exploiting the nanoscale world (e.g., molecules and materials), the everyday world around us (e.g., weather and climate prediction), and the cosmos (e.g., astronomy and astrophysics).
- The humanities, arts and social sciences are at the beginning of an exciting, new digital era. Data analysis and visualization are at the heart of these activities, whether it is analysis of a collection of literature, creation of new art forms, or mining massive quantities of social data for insights and relationships.
- The development of better software, algorithms, and tools will enable computational and data researchers to make effective use of extreme scale systems. There are many opportunities in this area that will make Illinois the leader in creating software for extreme-scale computers.