The Cambridge eScience Centre

 

CosmoGrid




CosmoGrid LogoCosmoGrid and Remote Collaborative Visualization

Enabling UK cosmologists to make world class contributions from observation of the cosmic microwave sky.

This project employs Grid technology to allow users of the COSMOS supercomputer to remotely and collaboratively visualize large data sets.

Project Staff

Dr Paul Shellard (PI) - Faculty member of the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, and Director, COSMOS supercomputer.

Dr Stuart Rankin - Systems administrator, COSMOS supercomputer, and Administrator, Relativity and Gravitation group, Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics.

Andrew Usher - Cambridge eScience visualization programmer for COSMOS and CosmoGrid (and also for EMGrid).

 

COSMOS supercomputer

The COSMOS consortium, led by Professor Stephen Hawking, employs large-scale supercomputer resources to advance our knowledge of the origin and structure of our universe, through:

  • modelling theories of the very early universe,

  • simulating the primordial perturbations which led to galaxy formation, and

  • analysing large data sets from cosmic microwave background experiments

COSMOS, the National Cosmology Supercomputer, is an SGI Altix 3800 (128 IA64 cpus, 128Gb memory, 10Tb storage) housed in Cambridge. Advanced visualization is essential for the analysis and interpretation of these complex nonlinear simulations, and includes an SGI Onyx2 Infinite Reality console to which the next-generation SGI Onyx4 UltimateVision console is shortly to be added.

The COSMOS supercomputer

The COSMOS supercomputer

 

Map of CosmoGrid Centres

Map of CosmoGrid Centres

 

CosmoGrid

Consortium members from around the UK regularly access the COSMOS supercomputer from Imperial College, Sussex and Portsmouth Universities, as well as off-site in Cambridge at the Cavendish Laboratory and the Institute of Astronomy. The concept of cosmogrid was developed to enhance the functionality of this central facility by allowing users to to visualize their data remotely and collaboratively. We are actively pursuing two key paradigms to achieve this, visual serving and data sharing.

Virtual Director session

Virtual Director session

 

Inflation/Strings picture

Inflation/Strings picture

 

Visual serving

Taking advantage of SGI's Visual Area Networking software - Vizserver - visualization applications are being developed that run on the COSMOS Onyx2 console. These can be viewed remotely using centrally based data, thus removing a key data transfer bottleneck. In addition, these sessions can be used for collaborative interactions, with users at several remote sites, each viewing and manipulating the same data sets. Successful demonstrations of this have been achieved in collaborative sessions with cosmologists at the Universities of Portsmouth and Sussex and trials are underway as far afield as France and Portugal.

Line diagram of visual serving
 

 

Proof-of-concept software to visualize the cosmic microwave sky is under development to seamlessly create remote and collaborative Vizserver sessions on COSMOS. This software - CSKY - accesses the advanced visualization capabilities of the supercomputer console, while allowing the data sets to be viewed remotely and collaboratively. Such capabilities are important for international collaborations like the ESA Planck Surveyor satellite, an ambitious CMB experiment in which COSMOS users are playing an important role.

Vizserver in use

Vizserver in use

 

New Linux CSKY version

New Linux CSKY version

 

Data Sharing

For extremely intensive visualization applications or where network links are poor, we are also exploring methods by which to remotely share control of visualization applications running on mirrored data sets at different sites.

This work, in partnership with NCSA, has been demonstrated successfully using the Virtual Director suite in real-time collaborative sessions from Cambridge to iGrid 2002 in Amsterdam and also to Supercomputing 2001 at Denver. We are examining open source alternatives to enable similar functionality in our own visualization applications.

Line diagram of visual serving

 

Sponsor

Industrial support for this project is kindly provided by Silicon Graphics Computer Systems Inc, an ongoing collaborative synergy which dates back to the launch of the first COSMOS supercomputer in 1997.

SGI
  



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