Visualization at Supercomputing Centers
Wes Bethel (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory) , Kelly Gaither (TACC), Hank Childs (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory), and Sean Ahern (Oak Ridge National Laboratory) are among the leaders today in the visualization community. They, along with John van Rosendale, Dale Southard, and Eric Brugger, have published a whitepaper titled: Visualization From the Skinny Guys at Big Supercomputer Centers. The report takes a look at the importance of the role of data analysis, or scientific visualization, in understanding the results that come from high performance computing systems. Some of the questions that they cover are of particular interest. For example, one question that they ask is whether or not data analysis hardware needs to be separate from the HPC systems, or integrated into the HPC systems. Another question they examine is how large should the data analysis staff be at a Supercomputing Center. Here’s a hat tip to InsideHPC for bringing this whitepaper to our attention.
Supercomputing Centers are unique resources that aim to enable scientic knowledge discovery through the use of large computational resources, the Big Iron. Design, acquisition, installation, and management of the Big Iron are activities that are carefully planned and monitored. Since these Big Iron systems produce a tsunami of data, it is natural to co-locate visualization and analysis infrastructure as part of the same facility. This infrastructure consists of hardware (Big Iron) and staff (Skinny Guys). Our collective experience suggests that design, acquisition, installation, and management of the Little Iron and Skinny Guys does not receive the same level of treatment as that of the Big Iron.