Structure and Management

While the Supercomputer Facility was created with the principal objective of supporting work centred on the supercomputers, its mission now encompasses support and participation in all aspects of advanced computational science in general, including visualization, massive data storage, parallel computing and computational science and engineering education. As a result, the structure of the Facility has changed over the years to reflect this

The Facility's staff include Academic Consultants, support, systems and visualization programmers and an administrator, plus a number of scientific and programming staff engaged on externally funded projects.

The primary responsibility of the Academic Consultants of ANUSF is in the applications area and in establishing an appropriate environment for advanced computing-based research. Contacts with researchers on campus may take a variety of forms, from short consultancies addressing particular questions from users, to extended collaborations in which an Academic Consultant may spend several months as part of a research team implementing an application on the supercomputer.

In addition, there is a Visualization Programmer whose role is to support researchers in the increasingly important area of interpreting the output of large-scale computations and simulations and data from other sources such as remote sensors and experiments.

There is also a Programmer who provides general programming support to the Facility as well as taking on many of the roles of the Academic Consultants and two Systems Programmers responsible for the operating systems of the supercomputer services, the mass storage system, visualization systems and associated workstations. In 1996, an additional Systems Support Programmer with applications skills was employed as part of the ARC supported Australian Cooperative Supercomputer Facility.

The Supercomputer Facility also has major collaborative projects in place with Fujitsu Limited, Japan. One of these projects, based largely in computational chemistry, employs over three dedicated posts within the Facility and a postdoctoral fellow in JCSMR (on offer). The Facility also manages and participates in a joint research and development project with Fujitsu in which mathematical algorithms and software for parallel-vector processors are being developed. As well as several ANUSF staff who are partially supported, this project employs three research fellows located in the School of Mathematical Sciences and the Computer Science Laboratory, RSISE. These projects are described in more detail elsewhere in this report.

 

Management Arrangements - High Performance Computing Advisory Committee

The Supercomputer Facility is one of the independent arms of Information Technology Services, under the Director of Information Technology Services and the High Performance Computing Advisory Committee (HPCAC).

The HPCAC is established by the Vice-Chancellor. The Committee advises the Vice-Chancellor, via the Information Technology Strategy Committee, on all aspects of high performance computing in the research and advanced teaching work of the University and on the development and promotion of computational science disciplines.

As well as advising on the HPC service provision, the Committee also has responsibility for developing and recommending on academic initiatives in the computational sciences which fall outside of existing academic structures, particularly those of an interdisciplinary character involving the Academic Consultants in the Supercomputer Facility and appropriate groups on campus

With the advice of the HPCAC, the Head, Academic Services is responsible for setting goals and developing policy in HPC for the University as well as management of the Facility, its services and internal and external collaborative programs

 

The Committee's terms of reference include the responsibility to:

 

  1. develop, review and advise on the strategic goals, principles, policies and plans for the development, acquisition, implementation and ongoing support of high performance computing services on campus, particularly those which are centrally provided;
  2. evaluate proposals and plans, and advise on the prioritisation of the needs of staff, students and management involved in research, particularly with respect to the development and implementation of University-wide initiatives and the provision of high performance computing;
  3. make recommendations to the IT Strategy Committee on the resources required for the effective operation of high performance computing;
  4. monitor the service provision for high performance computing;
  5. provide policy and management guidance to the Supercomputer Time Allocation Committee;
  6. provide an annual report to the Vice-Chancellor on progress and achievements in the area of high performance computing in the University;
  7. facilitate initiatives in the computational sciences, particularly those which are interdisciplinary or involve staff working in groups such as the ANUSF;
  8. oversee and promote links and joint activities in computational sciences with industry and other Australian universities;
  9. consider the positioning of the University's high performance computing so that the University may attract a high degree of interest nationally and internationally as a leading research institution.

 

In 1996 the membership of the HPCAC was:

 

Chair, appointed by the Vice-Chancellor

Professor B Kennett, ProVC

 

Members nominated by the Board of the Institute of Advanced Studies

Professor R Dewar, RSPhysSE

Professor W Levick, JCSMR, (Chair of Supercomputer Time Allocation Committee) replaced by Professor D Evans, RSC in September

Dr J Gready, JCSMR (from September)

 

Members nominated by the Board of The Faculties

Dr M Cardew-Hall, FEIT

Dr T O'Neill, SMS

 

Student representative (PARSA)

Mr D Rasmussen, RSC, replaced in June by Peter Bailey, FEIT

Representative of IT Services

Dr R Erskine, Director, Information Technology Services

 

Executive Officer to the Committee

Dr R Gingold Head, Academic Services, ANU Supercomputer Facility (Ex Officio)

The HPCAC met three times in 1996.

 

Supercomputer Time Allocation Committee

Most of the resources offered by ANUSF are subject to allocation by the Supercomputer Time Allocation Committee. Details of the Committee and its activities in 1996 are presented in a separate section of this Report

 

Changes in 1996

Additional administrative responsibilities were given to the Facility as part of the reorganisation of IT Services. As a result of RSPhysSE's reduced level of usage following the creation of RSISE and budgetary pressures, the support given towards the salary costs of the Academic Consultants from that School was reduced in 1996. This is causing continuing budgetary difficulties for the Facility