Dec 16 2014

Jetstream Supercomputing Project Brings Cloud-Based Research to the Masses

The National Science Foundation is helping to expand supercomputing resources to new fields of study.

A supercomputing cloud named Jetstream is being built at Indiana University to give educators, students and researchers access to powerful computing resources.

The university's Pervasive Technology Institute is creating Jetstream with grant funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The foundation announced $6.6 million in funding in November, with about $11 million expected over the next five years for the university to create, implement and operate Jetstream, according to a Nov. 24 news release from the university.

“It's bringing supercomputing to the masses,” IU CIO Brad Wheeler said in a video posted to YouTube. “It’s like a big easy button for getting onto high-performance computing for a whole set of graduate students and faculty who have graduated to the need for supercomputing but have never wanted to tackle all the complexity of moving onto the big iron.”

Craig Stewart, Jetstream's principal investigator and the Pervasive Technology Institute's executive director, said the system’s name is based on the atmospheric term for the border between two masses of air.

“The new Jetstream cloud system will operate at the border between the existing NSF-funded cyberinfrastructure and thousands of new users. Jetstream will be widely used because it will apply cloud computing approaches to advance important scientific research,” Stewart said in the release.

Jetstream's cloud-based environment will allow researchers to access on-demand data analysis resources through notebooks, tablets and desktop computers.

Researchers will be able to choose from a menu of virtual machines to conduct specialized research, whether it's combing through a geographic information service database for rock formations or analyzing DNA sequences, Stewart said in the video.

The project is targeting fields of study traditionally not afforded the power of supercomputers, including “biology, atmospheric science, earth science, economics, network science, observational astronomy and social sciences,” an NSF news release states.

Jetstream is expected to go into production in January 2016, and will be co-located at the University of Texas at Austin’s Texas Advanced Computing Center.

Another supercomputing project funded by NSF runs parallel to the development of Jetstream. The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center’s Bridges project will ease access to supercomputing resources for university campuses, specializing in tackling vast amounts of data, according to the Pittsburgh Technology Council.

Frédérick Lefebvre/ThinkStock

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