Arctic Region Supercomputing Center

                          Arctic Region Supercomputing Center

                                                                                                                                            Summer 2005

                                                                                the real-time CG art to flow in synchronization with Deal’s
                                                                                music. Using stereoptic eyeglasses, the Discovery Lab
                                                                                audience enjoyed the harmonic tones of the marimba, while
                                                                                immersed in a stark 3D landscape of Fairbanks environs
                                                                                in winter.
                                                                                    Working together since 2001 on various multi-media
                                                                                projects, Deal and Aoki create a blending of music, graphics
                                                                                and visuals that go beyond simply merging the physical live
                                                                                and virtual gestures. Using 3D, the two were able to create a
                                                                                world in which the audience was able to fully immerse them-
                                                                                selves in the flow of the music and the art.
                                                                                    Expanding their collaboration, Aoki and Deal participated
                                                                                in the April 2005 Art on the Grid event, InterPlay: Loose
                                                                                Minds in a Box, via the Access Grid (AG) high-bandwidth
Percussionist Scott Deal (right) creates music on his marimba in synchroniza-   networking system. Multimedia Specialist Jimmy Miklavec
tion with 3D computer-generated interactive art produced by Miho Aoki.
                                                                                directed the event from his site at the University of Utah,
Music Meets Art in 3D                                                           Salt Lake City.
                                                                                    InterPlay is a multi-faceted event that merges six simul-
    What does an old 19th century zinc-lined bathtub                            taneous performances from around the country via the AG.
connected to a small induction coil have in common with                         The live performances incorporate theater, music, perfor-
creating art and music in the 21st century?                                     mance art, computer-generated art, virtual reality and mo-
    In 1874, inventor Elisha Gray, probably the first person                    tion caption, which are combined, digitized, encoded and
to produce electronic notes, created what he called a “physi-                   streamed onto the network.
ological receiver.” By connecting one end of an induction                           For more information about Art on the Grid, go to:
coil to a dry zinc-lined bathtub, and holding the other end in        
one hand, Gray used his free hand to vigorously rub the zinc
bathtub lining to create a sound. When he rubbed his hand
faster and harder on the zinc, he created louder sounds.
    Back then, it was a little more crude for Gray than it
is for today’s musicians. Now, folks like Scott Deal, of the
University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) Music Department,
can easily create good vibrations and make music with their
hands and electricity using modern electronic keyboards.
    In February 2005, the Arctic Region Supercomputing
Center (ARSC) provided the Discovery Lab for a setting
where Deal joined his creative musical innovations with the
3D computer-generated (CG) art of Miho Aoki, ARSC/
UAF Art Department professor, to produce a virtual art and
music concert.                                                                  Artist Miho Aoki (in foreground at monitor) prepares animations while percus-
    Deal supplied live music on his marimba, in combina-                        sionist Scott Deal creates music for an Art on the Grid event, InterPlay: Loose
tion with previously recorded electronic music. Aoki created                    Minds in a Box.

                           Spring in Fairbanks is a rush of                         science. Both of these events allowed ARSC to reach out
                           activity. While the snow melts out-                      to the community and hopefully inspire a few budding
                           side and the grass begins to green,                      computational scientists.
                           Fairbanks busies itself with prepara-                        June will also mark several events for us including a visit
                           tions for the endless light and goings-                  from Project Gutenberg’s Michael Hart, our annual First
                            on of summer. This energy always                        Friday Art Opening in the Discovery Lab, the beginning of
                            seems to feed the pace of activities at                 summer public tours and the arrival of our National Science
      Frank Williams
      ARSC Director         the Arctic Region Supercomputing                        Foundation and military academy interns. Additionally,
      Center. Each summer we host an endless stream of                              several George Washington University students from that
      visitors who bring exciting energy and creativity to our                      institution’s High Performance Computing Lab will be
      center and propel us towards new projects and ideas.                          visiting the center to build research collaborations between
      This year is no different.                                                    the two centers in the study of Unified Parallel C and Field
            We started off the spring season with our usual                         Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) technology.
      bustle of local school tours. This year, hundreds of                              All the while, the center has completed an intensive year
      Fairbanks’ and rural Alaska’s brightest young minds                           of review and Phase I Strategic Planning, setting the stage
      had the opportunity to experience science and virtual                         for continued investment in computational science, and the
      reality in our Discovery Lab. The highlights of this                          results of these investments are already beginning to pay off.
      were the center’s participation in UAF’s first “I’m                           In just the last few months, researchers at the center have
      Going to College” tour to encourage sixth graders to                          been working to support the creation of a global tsunami
      begin thinking about college as they graduate into                            model. It’s these kinds of contributions that we as a center
      junior high school and the Experience Science—                                hope to continue making to the field of computational sci-
      Expect a Challenge day-long event for local Girl                              ence and research. We look forward to another invigorating
      Scout troops to encourage young women’s interest in                           summer that will lead us into an even more productive fall.

                                                                          ARSC Summer Tours
       Currents is a publication of the Arctic
       Region Supercomputing Center                                                                              Come to the
       University of Alaska Fairbanks
       909 Koyukuk Drive, Suite 105
                                                                                                                Discovery Lab
       P.O. Box 756020                                                                                           this summer
       Fairbanks, Alaska 99775-6020
                                                                                                                   and draw a
       voice: 907-450-8600                                                                                     virtual moose.
       fax: 907-450-8601
       web:                                                                                   1-2 p.m.
       Frank Williams ...................................... Director                                         Wednesdays
                                                                                                     June, July and August
       Barbara Horner-Miller .......... Associate Director/
       ......................................... User Services Director
       Virginia Bedford........Technical Services Director
       Jenn Wagaman ...........Public Affairs Coordinator
       Leone Thierman ............... Publications Specialist
                                                                                                     Room 375C
                                                                                               Rasmuson Library
            The University of Alaska is an affirmative action/equal
             opportunity employer and educational institution.            University of Alaska Fairbanks campus
                                                                           For more information please contact ARSC Public Affairs at


   New and Upgraded Hardware at ARSC

   Since the retirement of older ARSC supercomputers, the                                                                              system with seven
   center’s machine room is rapidly filling in the open slots with                                                                     two-processor
   some new systems.                                                                                                                   nodes that drive
                                                                                                                                       the four-wall
   Cray XD1                                                                                                                            stereo display in
                                                                                                                                       the Discovery
        Tarek El-Ghazawi, of George Washington University,                                                                             Lab. Many of the
   along with five of his graduate students, is spending part of                                                                       applications cur-
   the summer at ARSC doing some customizable configuring                                                                              rently running
   of the logic blocks on the center’s new Cray XD1, Nelchina.                                                                         on the SGI Onyx
        Their focus is to work with the Field-Programmable                                                                             3200 system, Igie,
   Gate Array (FPGA), which is a programmable logic chip.                                                                              will also run on
   An FPGA is similar to a programmable logic device (PLD),                                                                            VizDog, as well
   but whereas PLDs are generally limited to hundreds of gates,                                                                        as a suite of new
   FPGAs support thousands of gates, which provide significant-                                                                        software that will
   ly more programmable interconnects and switches between                                                                             advantage ARSC
   logic blocks.                                                                                                                       visualization users.
                                                       The system                                                                          Additionally,
                                                   El-Ghazawi and his                                                                  this new system
                                                   students will use,                                                                  allows students
                                                   Nelchina, arrived at                                                                and researchers
                                                                                  Patrick Webb, ARSC student researcher, checks out
                                                   ARSC on May 9,                 the IBM Image Generator, located in the Discovery to do their com-
                                                   2005. It is a three-           lab. Patrick has successfully ported his permafrost  puting on readily
                                                   chassis system with            code, FrostByte, from Igie to run as well on VizDog.
                                                                                                                                       available hardware.
                                                   each chassis consisting        Another advantage is the numerous public applications that
                                                   of 12 AMD Opteron™             are available for a Windows platform, like Amira, which is a
                                                   processors in six nodes.       3D scientific visualization application that is reasonably easy
                                                   Opteron™ is a new              to use. Suitable for the advanced finite-element simulations of
                                                   architecture to ARSC.          physics, biology, engineering and medicine, Amira can gener-
                                                   The high-speed inter-          ate true volumetric tetrahedral meshes. Max/MSP and Jitter
                                                   connect makes it oper-         are real-time audio and video synthesis and analysis programs
                                                   ate more like a Cray           used by professional musicians.
                                                   than a Linux cluster.               “I think this is an exciting environment for researchers
                                                   Nelchina’s Direct              and students, and we should encourage them to try it out,”
                                                   Connected Processor            says Bill Brody, ARSC visualization specialist. Now users
                                                   (DCP) architecture             have more choices as to which system they prefer to work
                                                    harnesses many pro-           on – Unix on Igie, and Windows and Linux on VizDog.
   Greg Newby, ARSC, and Mark Claypool,
   Claypool and Sons, look on, while Terrence       cessors into a single
   Breser and Terry Kibble, both of Cray Inc.,      unified system.               Sun PC Cluster
   begin the installation process on the Cray XD1,      Cray’s imple-
   Nelchina, in ARSC’s machine room.                mentation of the                 The new Sun PC Cluster, Cerebro, with six dual AMD
   DCP architecture optimizes message-passing applications                        Opteron™ nodes, has replaced ARSC’s HP Titanium 2
   by directly linking processors to each other through a high                    Cluster, Fang. Running the Rocks Linux cluster toolkit, it
   performance interconnect fabric, eliminating shared memory                     provides a stable and cost-effective system that makes cluster
   contention and peripheral component interconnect (PCI)                         computers easier to manage, maintain and administer.
   bus bottlenecks.                                                                  Cerebro opens a new door for users who have exhausted
                                                                                  their resources running codes on desktop systems or depart-
   IBM Image Generator                                                            mental servers, but aren’t quite ready run their codes on the
                                                                                  bigger supercomputers.
      ARSC’s new IBM image generator cluster, VizDog, is up                          For more information about setting up an account on
   and running. VizDog is a dual-boot Linux and Windows                           ARSC systems, send an email to


   Remote Control Driving
   Driving a car located on a racetrack in
   Hawaii, while sitting 3,000 miles away
   at a laptop in ARSC’s Discovery Lab in
   Fairbanks, Alaska, probably sets a new
   record for long-distance driving.
       Nozomu Nishinago, a represen-
   tative of the Japanese government’s
   National Institute of Information and
   Communications Technology, came
   to the University of Alaska Fairbanks
   to experiment with the efficiency of
   transferring High Definition Television
   signals over the internet.
       To make his experiment a little more
   interesting, he linked, via Internet 2,
   with a group attending a technology
   expo in Hawaii, and connected to a re-
   mote-controlled car containing a minia-
   ture wireless camera. A real-time image
   coming from the car’s camera was pro-
   jected onto one of the Discovery Lab’s
                                               Displayed on the laptop equipped with a steering wheel, is the same image projected onto a large screen
   10-by-8-foot screens. The driver, sitting   in ARSC’s Discovery Lab on the UAF campus.                                               Photo by Bob Huebert
   at a laptop equipped with a steering
   wheel and pedals in the lab, controlled     a second 10-by-8-foot screen show-                       whole racetrack with the car making
   the movement of the car on the race-        ing the racetrack, the cars and the                      the responsive turn on the other,” said
   track in Hawaii.                            people watching.                                         Nathan Bills, ARSC Network Specialist.
       Another live, high-definition image,        “As the driver here steered the wheel,               “There was only about a one-second
   one with four times the resolution of       you could see the driver’s view from                     delay between the two.”
   normal television, was projected onto       inside the car on one screen, and the

                                                                                                                                         N o n -P r o f i t
      University of Alaska Fairbanks                                                                                                     P     A     I    D
      909 Koyukuk Drive, Suite 105                                                                                                       Fairbanks, Alaska
      P.O. Box 756020                                                                                                                    Permit No. 2

      Fairbanks, Alaska 99775-6020
      Address Service Requested