December 01, 2006
Computational simulation and data analysis are now the core of an array of research disciplines, from astronomy and nanoscience to environmental sustainability and healthcare. Pushing disciplines forward by integrating emerging high performance computing technologies, applications, and approaches will be the focus of a new institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, university officials announced on Tuesday.
The Institute for Advanced Computing Applications and Technologies will be home to a supercomputer called "Lincoln" that will eventually be capable of more than 100 trillion mathematical calculations per second.
The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) -- with more than 20 years' experience in deploying robust high-performance computing resources and in working with research communities to develop new computing and software technologies -- will be at the new institute's heart.
"Multidisciplinary research and development has always been a core strength of our campus, and it is becoming increasingly important as science and engineering tackle the complex problems confronting our nation and our world," says University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Richard Herman. "The Institute for Advanced Computing Applications and Technologies will combine NCSA's world-class development and deployment of advanced computing technologies with faculty at the University of Illinois who are pushing the boundaries of their applications. It is an incredibly powerful mixture that will profoundly affect the future of both research and education."
This combination is especially significant as new and expanding cohorts of researchers begin to take advantage of computational simulation and high-performance data analysis. It grows more important each day as new research capabilities allow scientists and engineers to address more and more complex real-world problems, problems that require sophisticated computer simulations or analysis of massive data sets.
"In a few short years, the high performance computing resources that scientists, engineers, and other researchers use will be capable of quadrillions of calculations per second--petascale computing," said NCSA Director Thom Dunning, who will also lead the Institute for Advanced Computing Applications and Technologies. "But, the investments that we, as citizens, make can't center on the technology alone. We must embrace petascale science as well as petascale computing."
With this in mind, the Institute for Advanced Computing Applications and Technologies will be organized around a collection of research themes. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has committed support for 20 faculty members to be hired within these themes over the next five years, a substantial investment in the institute's future and a key to its success.
These faculty members will work with existing Illinois faculty and NCSA technologists to develop and use integrated computing environments to fully exploit the extraordinary resources that are becoming available. These technologists will bring their expertise -- in high-performance computing, networking, visualization, data analysis and management, security, and myriad other fields -- to bear on the problems at hand.
"This university has a great history of support for computing that provides high-end resources and tools that scientists and other researchers need to answer their most challenging questions," says Herman. "The Institute for Advanced Computing Applications and Technologies will target those areas that stand to make the most of that support. It will be a gift to future generations of researchers, ensuring that the work that they do will be able to take advantage of the continuing revolution in computing."
Research themes will be announced throughout 2007 and will expand in the coming years. They are expected to dovetail closely with NCSA's existing strengths in fields like astronomy and nanoscience, as well as fields that are important to the university's strategic plan such as healthcare and energy and environmental sustainability.
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