The Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at the University of Texas at Austin has passed to the next stage of the Leadership Class Computing Facility (LCCF) planning process, a process that has several approval stages and will take about four more years.
If eventually awarded for construction, the LCCF will serve as the leading advanced computing facility for the open science academic community in the United States, helping to solve the most computationally demanding problems. In March 2022, a peer review panel organized by the National Science Foundation (NSF) strongly recommended that the project move to the final design stage.
“The LCCF will be a unique facility,” said Dan Stanzioni, TACC executive director and associate vice president for research at UT Austin. It will have a broader mission than the Department of Energy while supporting a broader set of icons. And it will be more focused on science than a commercial cloud could be, with the hardware, software — and most importantly — the people needed to boost discoveries. We are excited to receive positive responses from the committee and begin the next phase of design and planning.”
Upon completion, thousands of scholars and students will interact with the LCCF each year. The primary stakeholders of the LCCF are American academic scholars who perform large-scale modeling and simulation. researchers at large scientific facilities, such as LIGO and the Large Hadron Collider; artificial intelligence and machine learning researchers; and the broader electronic infrastructure community, including employees in other supercomputing centers.
TACC has announced as part of its initial design presentation that the LCCF Advanced Computing System will likely be hosted at the Switch Commercial Data Center under construction on the Dell Round Rock campus, 10 miles north of TACC. A new facility on the JJ Pickle Research Campus in Austin, in a building adjacent to the existing TACC data center, is also under consideration. TACC leadership estimates the co-location will save up to $80 million in construction costs, and allow LCCF to support science nine months in advance
No final decision has been made on the main computing architecture for the next generation of TACC supercomputers, which will be called “Horizon”. The TACC leadership presented its vision for a comprehensive, collaborative computing system that supports both simulation and modeling and machine and deep learning approaches, while offering a range of services and capabilities to address the entire data lifecycle—from experimental discovery to analysis to the shared dataset in general.
Partnership with HPC leaders
As part of the project, LCCF will partner with four distributed science centers that will provide unique expertise across the national CI ecosystem and expand support across researchers:
- The partnership with the Atlanta University Center Consortium (AUCC) will leverage five Historic Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) to provide diverse workforce paths in computing and data science.
- The partnership with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) will explore new artificial intelligence (AI) processor chips.
- The partnership with the Pittsburgh Center for Supercomputing (PSC) will provide data-intensive computing and data mirrors for published archives, as well as focus on protected data and access to FAIR (searchability, accessibility, interoperability, and reuse).
- The partnership with the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) will provide test surfaces focused on supporting machine learning inference in scientific workflows, exabyte-sized tool data workflows, and ways to democratize access to the broader community.
In preparation for the LCCF, TACC is leading the newly launched Distinctive Science Application Program. Supported by NSF, the program funds 21 research teams to work collaboratively with TACC to improve scientific software, algorithms, and libraries.
The applications selected come from a wide range of fields and use a range of computational methods from molecular modeling to deep learning. Together, they constitute a representative sample of the research workload that TACC expects to support with the LCCF. It will also form the basis for a set of benchmarks against which future system improvements on Frontera will be measured.
Reach out to the missing millions
In addition to providing computing resources and aid, the LCCF will build on the proven education and outreach programs that TACC has developed over the past decade. These include SPICE, a data science curriculum developed in collaboration with the University of Hawaii’s Chaminade; Institute for Advanced Computing for Social Change, a week-long hackathon for undergraduates leading social justice and data science solutions; And [email protected]Residential summer programs that teach underserved high school students in computer science and engineering.
TACC will also develop its own internship program, which has successfully brought non-traditional candidates into the HPC field. TACC’s new Learning Center will serve as a hub for public engagement, training, and outreach programs.
“The LCCF will not only act as a research accelerator for the nation, but it will also be an agent of change, helping to bring ‘missing millions’ into the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and HPC,” said Kelly Geither, director of health analytics at TACC.
Planning for a leadership class computing facility is supported by NSF Award #1940979.
About the author
Aaron Dubrow is a science and technology writer with the Communications, Media and Design group at the Texas Center for Advanced Computing.
Originally published on the TACC website.