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. There is also a Programmer who provides general support to the Facility as well as taking on many of the roles of the Academic Consultants.
A lecturer is appointed jointly with DCS, FEIT to develop and deliver Computational Science and Engineering courses to undergraduate and postgraduate students as well as to develop short courses for industry.
The Facility employs Visualization Programmers whose role is to support researchers in the increasingly important area of interpreting the output of large-scale computations and data from other sources such as remote sensors and experiments. There is a half-time post which provides applications level support to users of the massive data storage system.
A small systems administrator group is responsible for the for the operational management of the supercomputers, the mass data storage system, visualization systems, training laboratories and group workstations.
The Supercomputer Facility has major collaborative projects in place with Fujitsu Limited, Japan. One of these projects employs over three dedicated computational chemists within the Facility and a postdoctoral fellow in JCSMR. 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. This project employs three research fellows located in the School of Mathematical Sciences and the Computer Science Laboratory, RSISE as well as a software engineer/librarian and mathematicians in fractional posts in ANUSF. These projects are described in more detail elsewhere in this report.
The Supercomputer Facility is one of the independent arms of Information Technology Services, under the Director of Information Technology Services and of 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 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 includes the
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 1997 the membership of the HPCAC was:
Chair, appointed by the Vice-Chancellor
Professor J Mould, Director, MSSSO
Members nominated by the Board of the Institute of Advanced Studies
Professor R Dewar, RSPhysSE
Professor D Evans, RSC in September
(Chair of Supercomputer Time Allocation Committee)
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)
David Miron, RSISE (replaced by David Smith, RSC Nov 97)
Representative of IT Services
Dr R Erskine, Director, Information Technology Services
Executive Officer to the Committee
Dr R Gingold Head, Academic Services,
ANU Supercomputing Facility (Ex Officio)
The HPCAC met four times in 1997.
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 1997 are presented elsewhere in this report.
Since the inception of the Facility in 1987, RSC and RSPhysSE have contributed towards the support of the Academic Consultant salaries. As a result of financial pressures, this support was withdrawn in 1997.