Following the acquisition of the first university-based supercomputer in Australia in 1987, the ANU undertook to provide ten per cent of the resource free of charge to researchers at other Australian universities. Over the ensuing decade, the External Use Scheme has proven very successful.
Until 1993, the ANU did not involve itself in deciding the relative merits of projects from external universities. Prior to then a formula provided by the Australian Vice-Chancellors' Committee was used to allocate time in bulk to each participating university. By the end of 1992, it was clear that the system needed modification. The number of projects grew to be too large, with the result that each project received an inadequate grant. For example, in 1992, there were 81 projects registered with over 109 users at 24 universities (not counting a further 35 course-work accounts). Therefore, after discussions with a number of external users and coordinators, the scheme was altered so that the Supercomputer Time Allocation Committee accepts proposals from external researchers for a reserved ten percent of the computer time available. In considering proposals, the Committee is guided by the same principles of academic merit and suitability of the resources to the proposed project as it uses for internal proposals.
In 1996, 35 external projects were supported. Guided by international and national referees, the Committee determined that almost all of the proposals received were of an exceptionally high standard and found it very difficult to reduce the number of supported projects even further as had been planned. Nineteen of these projects had independent support from the Australian Research Council.
Tables 1 & 2 list the external projects which were supported. There are 29 projects involving 70 researchers. By over-allocating resources somewhat, the committee has found that the target of 10 per cent reserved for the External Scheme can be met. Omitted from the tables are those projects which were given small provisional grants and which made little or no use of the grant. Detailed descriptions of the projects can be found in Appendix B. In 1997 an External Use Scheme for the ACSF SGI Power Challenge is expected to commence.
With a grant from the Quality Funds, the Facility presented a week-long workshop from 15-19 July largely aimed at postgraduate students from other universities.
Dr Margaret Kahn coordinated a successful workshop which featured a mixture of lectures and hands-on sessions on HPC tools and techniques. The keynote lecturer was Professor Jack Dongarra, University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, with other lectures and practical sessions being presented by ANUSF staff. Eleven students and 2 postdoctoral fellows from four states were selected to attend.
In a separate activity, six staff from ADFA attended a two-day hands-on course on the new Fortran90 scientific programming language on 9-10 May.
The Facility assisted RSPhysSE with the planning and conduct of its Summer School in Computational Physics 8-25 January. Dr Henry Gardner was convenor of this highly successful School which attracted 100 registrants, of whom approximately half were honours and postgraduate students from around Australia. Dr Gingold served on the organizing committee. The Facility provided laboratory facilities for the hands-on sessions presented by some of the lecturers.
In addition, a two day Fortran90 workshop was given by Drs Singleton and Gardner and Ms Jenkinson to 20 postgraduate students from other universities who were attending the Summer School.
With the assistance of the Fujitsu Area 3 project, the Facility supported this workshop on 2-4 October organized by the Computational Molecular Biology and Drug Design Group, JCSMR. It was attended by around 100 participants and ten overseas speakers. The HPC Laboratory was used for the associated hands-on Computer Workshop on Molecular Modelling and Bioinformatics of Protein Structure and Function attended by 14 persons from 8-11 October.
The ANU continued its active involvement in this cooperative activity involving regional HPC consortia in South Australia and New South Wales (the South Australian Centre for Parallel Computing, New South Wales Centre for Parallel Computing and the Sydney Regional Scientific Visualisation Laboratory). These consortia represent almost all of the universities in their states as well as ANSTO and DSTO. The ACSF is supported by the Australian Research Council. This January saw the first three computer systems operated by the ACSF commence production use. These Silicon Graphics PowerChallenge computers, upgraded during the year to each have 20 processors and 2 Gbytes of memory, were in heavy use at sites in Sydney, Adelaide and ANU. Each system is ranked the most powerful system in Australia behind the Fujitsu VPP at ANU. ACSF members plan to collaborate in software exchange and training and intend to provide ten percent of the resources to other universities. The ANU's RASH resource control and accounting system was provided to UNSW free of charge for use on the NSW system.
Dr Gingold attended a number of ACSF board meetings and Ms Allsman and Mr Evans attended an ACSF systems administrators meeting on 27 March at the University of Sydney.
Dr Gingold visited the Centro de Supercomputacion de Galicia (CESGA) in Santiago de Compostela, Spain on 12-13 September, and together with Professor Stanton, DCS, had talks with Mr Celso Curras, the Minister for Education of Galicia, Dr Long, Director of CESGA and officials from the Ministry of Education concerning cooperation between the regional universities and the ANU. An agreement between the ANU and the Galician State is expected to be signed by the Minister and the Vice Chancellor in 1997.
Dr Gingold presented an invited talk on Climate Modelling and Professor Stanton spoke on parallel computing at the ANU at the VII Jornados de Paralelismo conference during the visit.
As part of the research and development agreement between the ANU and Fujitsu entered into at the time of the acquisition of the VP100 a number of visits of ANU researchers to Japan and vice versa have been funded over the years. In 1996, this fund assisted Dr Yo Matsuo from the Institute for Social Information Science, Fujitsu Laboratories, Japan to visit ANU for 2 weeks in October. During his visit he worked with Dr J Gready's group in the John Curtin School of Medical Research on protein structure prediction problems of mutual interest, including use of his 3D-1D mapping program developed during his secondment to the Biomolecular Engineering Research Institute in Osaka. His visit arose from an existing collaboration with Dr Ken Nishikawa and Dr Matsuo while they were at BERI and from discussions during Dr Gready's visit to Tokyo in June for an ANU-Fujitsu project management meeting.
The Area 3 collaborative software development project with Fujitsu Japan was established in 1989 with the aim of porting and optimizing computational chemistry software on the VP-100. In time, the scope of the project was widened to include mathematical and graphical software and climate modelling (in conjunction with CRES and DCS). Dr Rendell, ANUSF, is responsible for the day-to-day management and planning for the Area 3 project.
Work in 1996 included a considerable focus on the new Fujitsu AP3000, the commercial product arising from the AP1000, as well as on the VPP series of supercomputers. The AP3000 work involved both mathematics and chemistry.
In 1996 the Area 3 project began to take a major new direction, with a research component in conjunction with Dr J Gready of the Computational Molecular Biology and Drug Design Group, JCSMR. It is expected that there will be strong positive feedback from the research project into the porting and optimization aspects of the Area 3 project. Two new appointments were offered late in the year, one for a postdoctoral fellow in JCSMR and another to join the team in ANUSF.
During the year there were many contacts between Fujitsu Japan and ANU relating to this project, including visits by Drs Gingold, Gready and Rendell to Japan. Staff working on the project in 1996 included Drs Rendell, Edberg, Schmidt, Wielopolski and Ms Stals. The final work on the climate project was completed early in the year by Dr Michael of the Department of Computer Science, FEIT.
The Area 4 project commenced in 1992 and is focussed on researching and developing mathematical library algorithms and code for Fujitsu's new VPP300/700 supercomputers. The Supercomputer Facility is managing this project and four of the staff are actively involved in the work. Dr M Kahn is responsible for day-to-day management of the project and the coordination of planning and activities across campus. Academic direction and leadership of the project is under Professor R Brent, CSL, RSISE and Professor M Osborne, Program in Advanced Computation, CMA, SMS. Staff and students working on the project are located in SMS, Computer Science Laboratory, RSISE and ANUSF.
Three research fellow positions are funded under this project. Amongst those contributing to the project in 1996 were Dr David Harrar II, Dr Eric Jiang, Mr David Miron. Dr Markus Hegland, CSL, RSISE continues his role in the project. Dr Lutz Grosz joined the team in SMS from the University of Karlsruhe in December. With the support of Fujitsu, Mr Geoff Keating took up an Australian Industry Postgraduate Award scholarship to work towards a PhD in Computer Science Laboratory, RSISE on this project. Dr Zhou Bing Bing of Computer Science Laboratory, RSISE was also active in the project.
Mr Gavin Mercer was appointed in September half-time to act as software engineer and program librarian. Dr M Dow and Dr M Kahn, ANUSF were also actively involved in code development. Dr Dow, who works half-time as an Academic Consultant, took up an additional half-time contract to work on Area 4 and Dr Kahn worked extended hours in her role of manager of the project.
As with the Area 3 project described above, there is increasing overlap between this project and parts of the Area 2 CAP project centred on the Fujitsu AP1000 which is managed the Department of Computer Science and the Computer Science Laboratory, RSISE.
A delegation led by Professor Brian Kennett, ProVC and Chair of the HPC Advisory Committee visited Fujitsu from 5-7 June to discuss the Area 3 and Area 4 projects. He was accompanied by Drs Gingold, Kahn and Rendell, ANUSF and Dr Gready, JCSMR. At the time of this visit, Dr Rendell accompanied Dr Gready on a visit to the Biomolecular Engineering Research Institute in Osaka on 5 June hosted by Dr Haruki Nakamura, Head of the Department of Bioinformatics. They presented talks on Computational Chemistry at the ANU and Computational QM/MM Studies of Enzymic Mechanisms and discussed the Fujitsu project and results for lactate dehydrogenase as well as speaking with a number of computational and experimental scientists and visiting the electron microscopy laboratory. Dr Rendell also visited Fujitsu Japan from 19-25 October to carry out work and discussions in the Area 3 project.
Dr Singleton visited Fujitsu Japan from 17-29 January as part of a consultancy for Fujitsu Australia Ltd
There were a number of visitors from interstate and attendees at the conferences and workshops described elsewhere in this report. In addition the following persons visited the Facility in 1996:
Professor Jack Dongarra, University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (for the Advanced HPC Workshop in July).
Dr Paul Sherwood, Daresbury Laboratory (for software installations and discussions with the Area 3 project team 30 September to 11 October).
On 12 December, the Facility was honoured by a visit from the President of Kazakhstan, HE Mr Nursultan Nazarbaev and several members of his cabinet hosted by the Vice Chancellor. The President toured the Facility and was given a demonstration of advanced visualization techniques.
Dr Gardner was elected Member of the C20 Commission on Computational Physics of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics. Dr Gingold served on the Duffield Scholarship Committee at MSSSO.