Arctic Region Supercomputing Center
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
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 http://www.chpc.utah.edu/chpc/digimed/agmeetings.php.
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
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
P.O. Box 756020 this summer
Fairbanks, Alaska 99775-6020
and draw a
voice: 907-450-8600 virtual moose.
web: http://www.arsc.edu 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
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
Cray XD1 stereo display in
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.
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
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 email@example.com.
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
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