NSF's HPCC program provides support for basic research in HPCC technologies and applications, national HPCC facilities and services, computational infrastructure, and education and training. The program attempts to strategically guide broad currents of scientific inquiry and discovery into critical application problem domains. In FY 1994, NSF will continue to highlight interdisciplinary research, increased collaboration between computer scientists and application scientists, and cross-sector partnerships. Areas that address pressing interests of science and the broader society will be targeted.
Major NSF activities are planned in all five components of the HPCC Program. Program activities are implemented and executed through the existing NSF disciplinary program structure. An HPCC Coordinating Group with a representative from each NSF research directorate is responsible for assuring program development and management consistent with the goals and objectives of the HPCC Program. The result is a shared-management, NSF-wide process touching on almost all science and engineering disciplines. In FY 1992 over 1,200 individual awards were made by 75 separate disciplinary program offices. All HPCC awards are subject to the Foundation's merit-based peer review process.
NSF will continue to pursue substantial industry participation and collaboration. Cooperation with industry is achieved programmatically both through the natural alignment of academic basic research interests in key HPCC areas and through the deliberate structuring of selected NSF programs to foster collaboration. These interactions stimulate the growth of shared knowledge and capabilities, improve the rate of technology transfer, and identify new technologies and products of commercial value.
Two national NSF programs, NSFNET and the NSF Supercomputer centers, could not be conducted at their present scope without significant industry interest and collaboration. Extensive industry involvement with the National Supercomputer centers includes partnerships and affiliate relationships, cooperative efforts in technology development, and use of the centers' computing resources and training facilities. Affiliation with a center offers an innovative, low risk method of exploring and ultimately exploiting the usefulness of high performance computing technologies in a diverse intellectual and interdisciplinary environment. Currently about 130 non- academic affiliates or partners represent many areas including aerospace, automotive, financial, chemical products, and telecommunications. The centers are also engaged in software and systems development with most of the major U.S. high performance computing hardware vendors.
The approximately 130 industrial affiliates and partners at the NSF Supercomputer centers fall into the broad groups shown above.
Coordination of NSF activities with other agencies is an integral feature of the program. This entails multiagency planning activities leading to joint sponsorship of large scale research and infrastructure projects, scientific conferences and workshops, and development of shared resources.
The HPCS component focuses on the design and development of heterogeneous and distributed scalable parallel computing systems to advance computational science and engineering research capabilities. Included is research on: systems architecture, including application-specific systems and memory hierarchy; early prototyping and evaluation of hardware and software systems; new tools for systems-level automated design and prototyping; distributed design and intelligent manufacturing capabilities; and optical communications systems and devices.
NSF is responsible for overall coordination of the NREN component and the broad deployment of network infrastructure and services. NREN component activities support all aspects of the HPCC Program through connection of other agency networks, upgrading of the NSFNET backbone network services, providing for enhanced network security, increasing the number of educational institutions connected to the network, and serving as a primary source of information about access to and use of the network. Activities focus on network infrastructure and services and on gigabit research and development. These activities are designed to develop and implement a wide range of networking infrastructure components and services for the Nation's community of researchers, scholars, and students that will foster interaction and collaboration; and to give rapid access to researchers and students to facilities and other resources for use in scholarly endeavors. These facilities and resources include computation centers, laboratories, scientific instruments, and databases and libraries. NSF also participates in the support (under ARPA coordination) of the networking and communications research and development effort leading to early deployment of advanced HPCC systems. This coordinated research effort includes work on very high speed switches and several wide-area research gigabit testbed networks in support of Grand Challenge collaborations and other applications.
The ASTA component emphasizes the development of algorithms and software technologies and the establishment of research capability to address Grand Challenge scale computational problems. Included in ASTA are: research demonstrating the applicability of HPCS products to critical problems; building interdisciplinary collaboration and exchange; collaborative Grand Challenge and large scale computational research; computational techniques and software technologies for scalable parallel and distributed heterogeneous computing systems; scientific databases; and deploying and configuring new parallel systems in research centers and testbed facilities accessible to researchers, students, and educators nationwide.
NSF's National Supercomputer centers and Science and Technology centers are hubs of intellectual and educational activity, serving researchers, students, and teachers from many disciplines and educational levels. They seek to define and provide a premier environment for coordinated approaches to Grand Challenge problems. The centers are currently implementing the concept of a "metacenter:" planning and working closely together, the individual centers pool their technological resources, support services and administrative functions so that the collective resources are viewed and made available to users as a single, powerful computing environment. With the metacenter concept, new systems and services can be incorporated into the overall environment without disturbing the stable computing environment that is in place. The concept can also offer additional flexibility in managing and optimizing the centers' operations.
IITA component activities are designed to expedite the application of research products and services developed in the original four component areas to National Challenges. Efforts in IITA will build on and integrate fundamental HPCC technologies in order to enable widespread progress on information-intensive applications in such areas as the civil infrastructure, digital libraries, education and lifelong learning, the environment, health care, and manufacturing. NSF will focus primarily on building and promulgating intelligent user interfaces, distributed software systems and support environments, standardized data management and communications processes, and enhanced information infrastructure services. IITA activities include:
Four sample NCSA Mosaic (described in ASTA section) screens showing access to images contained in public Internet digital data libraries. From left to right:
(Click on the links below to connect to these servers.)
- One screen from this hypertext exhibit.
- Botanical pages from Materia Medica, a 14th or 15th century Italian manuscript.
BRHR component activities are designed to encourage research projects and infrastructure and educational activities that ensure the flow of innovative ideas and talented people into high performance computing technologies and application areas. Activities include support for research in fundamental areas of algorithms, data structures, programming languages, operating systems, software engineering, performance evaluation, databases, digital libraries, information science, knowledge processing, language and speech understanding, computer vision and image understanding, and multimedia computing. BRHR also supports postdoctoral awards in high performance computational science and engineering and experimental computer science; undergraduate research experiences; high school teacher and student training experiences at high performance computing centers; and infrastructure acquisition for computational research and education.
This program activity was initiated in FY 1992, with awards made to multidisciplinary groups of scientists and engineers whose activities integrated disciplinary research with the design of models, algorithms, and software for high performance computing systems. (See above for areas in which awards were made.)
NSF will continue to support HPCC basic research activities, metacenter implementation, Grand Challenge Application Groups, postdoctoral research associateships, and broader access to high performance computing research resources for researchers, students, and educators at all levels. Support for NREN development will continue to meet special NSF obligations and responsibilities set forth in the HPCC Program plan, including the development of gigabit testbeds. New activities will support the migration of technologies and capabilities developed in the original HPCC Program component areas to address specific applications associated with such areas as health care, lifelong learning, digital and electronic libraries, and manufacturing.
HPCS support will focus on:
NREN activities will include:
ASTA activities will include:
IITA activities will focus on:
BRHR support will focus on: