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03. 12. 97
G7 Information Society

November 17, 1997. This week, an international team of computer experts from HLRS, the High-Performance Computing-Center at the University of Stuttgart, Germany, Sandia National Laboratories, SNL, Albuquerque, NM, Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, Pittsburgh, PA, showed a trans-Atlantic meta-computing and meta-visualization environment at the SC'97: High Performance Networking and Computing conference in San Jose, California.

A unique component of this official G7 Information Society pilot project is the scale of problem it addresses. There have been other meta-computing projects, but none have been of this scale, which linked the largest computing centers in the United States with the largest European center. The combined capacity of the machines at these centers exceeded three TFLOPS. The meta-computing effort used for the simulations linked 3 of the top 10 largest supercomputers in the world. The pilot project also addressed the collaborations and visualization needs to support this scale of computing. This project is the first to use trans-Atlantic, high-speed ATM communication to allow researchers to collaboratively visualize scientific results.

Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center

In 1995, the Information Society of the G7 trading partners instituted a research program aimed at developing the computing systems able to solve problems of a size and importance that are beyond the capability of any single nation. These research efforts involve the skillful integration of both computing resources and the know-how of experts from around the world.

Global companies are learning to thrive using networked, world-wide information systems. For example, it is becoming common for a design team finishing their day's work to hand-off the continuing, round-the-clock design to another design team further around the world. However, even more advanced tools would be helpful to extend the collaborations that are necessary to address global problems extending beyond the border of any single country. Understanding environmental issues including ozone depletion, the possibility of global warming, or other global-scale disasters will require the spirit of international cooperation.

At the Ministerial Conference on the Information Society held in Brussels in February, 1995, G7 Ministers agreed to eight core principles to guide the evolution of the global information society. Eleven official pilot projects were endorsed to promote joint R&D, demonstrate pre-commercial trials, and to advanced high-speed services and applications.

This Canadian/USA/German project, under the Global Interoperability for Broadband Networks, tackled the hardest problems of a trans-Atlantic high speed link. Implementation details included network connectivity, regulation of various service providers, encryption laws, and collaborations across nine time zones. In the process, the software team wrote many lines of software and developed personal friendships. The team's progress was evident at the SC'97 show in San Jose, California.

Scientists in San Jose and in Stuttgart were able to jointly study a computational model of a comet impacting just off Long Island, New York. The scientists watched the results of a one-kilometer-diameter comet (weighing about a billion tons) traveling 60 kilometers per second and entering the Earth's atmosphere at about 45 degree.

The entry of the comet into the atmosphere was simulated by URANUS, a code developed at the Institute for Space-Systems (IRS) at the University of Stuttgart. The simulation, performed by SNL, showed the impact blasting material into the stratosphere, and the tremendous tidal wave, which resulted.

This scientific collaboration was enabled by a virtual reality environment that let researchers in Germany interact with the scientific model as though they, too, were at the Supercomputing show. For that, COVISE, a collaborative visualization environment developed at the University of Stuttgart, with funding of the European Community, was coupled with eigen/VR, a virtual reality renderer developed by SNL for the Department of Energy Office of Mathematics, Information and Computer Science.

The trans-Atlantic network was key to the success of this project. One year ago, at the supercomputing show (SC'96) in Pittsburgh, the collaborators were only able to use the Internet, which had a unacceptable 1800 msec latency across the Atlantic, and which did not feature any virtual reality capability. At this year's show, the G7 researchers demonstrated more advanced technology with newly assembled networks, which enabled a useful system with only 75 msec latency (20 msec represents the unavoidable latency due to the speed of light) using commercial and research ATM technology.

This year's demonstration moved the global information infrastructure one step closer to reality with interconnected broadband networks between three of the G-7 countries, Canada, Germany, and the USA.

Instrumental in providing the networking connections to enable this demonstration were the Rechenzentrum Universität Stuttgart, and Deutsche Telekom AG, Germany, Teleglobe, and CARNARIE INC/NTN, Canada, and the National Science Foundation, and Energy Sciences Network, US.

For more information contact:

George Davidson/Arthurine Breckenridge
Sandia National Laboratories
Albuquerrque, New Mexico 87185-0318
505-845-8390
arbreck[at]sandia.gov

Roland Rühle/Alfred Geiger/Ulrich Lang
HPC-Center Stuttgart (HLRS)
Allmandring 30
D-70550 Stuttgart, F.R.G.
+49-711-685-5719
ruehle[at]hlrs.de; geiger[at]hlrs.de; lang[at]hlrs.de

Michael Levine/Sergiu Sanielevici
Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center
4400 Fifth Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15217 USA
Tel. 412-268-5240
Fax: 412-268-5832
sergiu[at]psc.edu