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Ranger supercomputer's lifespan extended one year as part of NSF XD initiative

AUSTIN, Texas—The Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) today announced that operational funding for the Ranger supercomputer, which was expected to end on Feb. 4, 2012, will be extended through Feb. 4, 2013. This extension will allow Ranger to continue supporting world-class science until the next large HPC system, Stampede, is deployed as part of the National Science Foundation's (NSF) eXtreme Digital (XD) program.

Approaching its fourth anniversary, Ranger remains one of the top computing platforms in the world, ranked as #17 on the Top500 list. The system has completed more than two million jobs with 97 percent uptime.

"Ranger was the most widely used large-scale HPC system in the TeraGrid program, and we look forward to enabling more scientific breakthroughs through early 2013 as part of the XSEDE program," said Jay Boisseau, director of TACC. "The extension will enable users to transition smoothly to using Stampede when it comes online in January 2013, and thus provide continuous productivity and progress for a large subset of the U.S. open science research community."

Ranger went into production on Feb. 4, 2008, as the most powerful and capable HPC system in the TeraGrid—with more than five times the peak performance and ten times the memory of any other TeraGrid system at that time. Ranger offered more than twice the cycles of all other TeraGrid systems combined at that time.

As a critical part of the XD program, the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) consortium—comprising more than a dozen universities and two research laboratories—has now replaced the TeraGrid as the integrating fabric for the bulk of the NSF's high-end digital resources. Researchers from any U.S. open science institution can apply for a variety of novel scientific and educational activities through the XSEDE project.

"TACC is pleased to continue offering Ranger through the XSEDE program to the users and research projects currently benefitting from this powerful resource," said Chris Hempel, associate director of Resources and Services at TACC. "To date, Ranger has been used by more than 3,000 scientists in the investigation of more than 1,800 research projects."

For more than three and a half years, Ranger and its Spur visualization sub-system have supported emergency simulations of the Gulf oil spill, assisting the Coast Guard in locating and containing surface oil; helped produce the first models of the H1N1 virus, which let scientists understand the virus's potential resistance to antiviral medication; and enabled the clearest picture yet of how mantle convection operates on a global scale and how it causes earthquakes.

In addition, Ranger helped predict the storm surge from Hurricane Ike, enabled insights into biofuels and solar photovoltaic cells, and assisted in the creation of seismic hazard analysis maps used by the U.S. Geological Survey to create building codes.

While supporting new science continues to be the primary focus of the Ranger project, the project team will continue contributing to the improvement of key open source technologies that are used in many other HPC systems, such as:

  • MVAPICH MPI libraries
  • OpenFabrics Enterprise Distribution InfiniBand software stack (OFED)
  • Lustre parallel file system

The Ranger project team will continue to support the national open science community as part of the XSEDE project through Feb. 4, 2013. The project team will help users migrate to Stampede and other new systems, finally shutting Ranger down after five complete years of operations. At that point, most Ranger project staff will shift to working on Stampede and other XSEDE-related activities, continuing to bring the expertise and experiences developed from this project to the national open science community for years to come.

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Date Posted: 2011-11-08       Faith Singer-Villalobos