EVL Continues UCSD Collaboration to Enhance and Sustain CHASE-CI

September 22nd, 2021

Categories: Networking, User Groups, Remote Collaboration, Data Science, High Performance Computing


SEPTEMBER 22, 2021 - The UIC Electronic Visualization Laboratory’s (EVL) long-time collaborator, the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), received a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, to start October 2021, to Enhance and Sustain their CHASE-CI project. As part of EVL’s ongoing commitment to this research effort, EVL will host GPU resources and data servers to enhance and extend UCSD’s Pacific Research Platform (PRP) Nautilus Hypercluster through 2021-2024.

In 2017, UCSD received an NSF award for CHASE-CI, the Cognitive Hardware And Software Ecosystem - Community Infrastructure, which initially provided a community of Computer & Information Science and Engineering researchers doing Machine Learning and Computational Media applications with a distributed cluster containing 256 Graphics Processing Units (GPUs). This cluster - named Nautilus - was originally distributed across 10 California campuses and built on PRP. The NSF-funded PRP project focused on integrating California’s high-speed regional research & education network (for fast data transfers among campuses) with DTNs, or Data Transfer Nodes, which are specialized storage systems located at each campus edge, optimized to quickly send and receive large data flows.

Early on, EVL was among 50 UCSD partners to connect to PRP, thanks to UIC’s high-bandwidth connectivity (100 Gigabits per second) to national research and education networks via the StarLight International/National Communications Exchange Facility in downtown Chicago. At that time, UCSD provided EVL with the campus’s first DTN, which has since been integrated into the Nautilus cluster, providing 192 Terabytes (TB) of data storage for Big Data applications. More recently, as part of its ongoing PRP award, UCSD is providing EVL with an additional 216 TB of data storage.

Over the past 5 years, Nautilus has grown. PRP interoperability with national and international research and education networks creates a high-capacity data-centric “freeway system” now stretching across the nation and across oceans that moves Nautilus data among DTNs located at other research institutions. UCSD’s Nautilus cluster contains hundreds of GPUs and many Terabytes of storage. While 25% of the computational hardware and data resources are provided by the UCSD CHASE-CI award, 75% is provided by other researchers and institutions who voluntarily contribute resources, building a shared platform that they jointly own and control. EVL has contributed some of its own GPU nodes to Nautilus, with plans to federate more of its GPU resources over time. However, any Computer & Information Science and Engineering researcher can get an account on Nautilus, whether or not they contribute resources.

This new CHASE-CI Enhance and Sustain award aims to enhance and sustain Nautilus’s user community. EVL, as a UCSD partner institution, will receive an 8 GPU Nautilus Machine Learning node, to be integrated with Nautilus, to provide the community with additional GPUs and data services. While EVL currently has substantial computing facilities to support the needs of UIC College of Engineering faculty who require GPUs and data storage, being part of the CHASE-CI Enhance and Sustain grant and integrating the Lab’s resources with Nautilus expands faculty and student access to national (and international) scale community computational and data resources.

NSF award #2120019 to UCSD, ENS: CHASE-CI, 2021-2024
NSF award #1730158 to UCSD, CHASE-CI, 2017-2020
NSF award #1541349 to UCSD, PRP, 2015-2022