GigaIO Is Selected To Bring Composability To Bold New National Research Platform

National Science Foundation awards grant for first-of-its-kind cyberinfrastructure ecosystem

Building on the successes of past collaborations with the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) located at UC San Diego, GigaIO, the creators of next-generation data center rack-scale architecture for artificial intelligence (AI) and high-performance computing (HPC) solutions, is proud to be announcing its low latency universal dynamic fabric, FabreXTM, was selected as the technology of choice for the new Prototype National Research Platform (NRP). This National Science Foundation-funded cyberinfrastructure ecosystem is an innovative, all-in-one system—computing resources, research and education networks, edge computing devices, and other instruments—designed as a testbed to expedite science and enable transformative discoveries.

“Complex computational and data workflows underpin many of the scientific research challenges we hope to address with NRP,” says Dr. Frank Würthwein, PI of NRP, and interim director of the San Diego Supercomputer Center. “In areas as diverse as public health, high energy physics, and wildfire response, this research requires that we aggregate disparate computational elements, such as FPGAs, GPUs, x86 processors, and storage systems into highly usable and reconfigurable systems. GigaIO’s FabreX technology makes it possible to dynamically bring these elements together in a very low-latency, high-performance interconnect while allowing for distinct, non-interfering workflows to co-exist on the same infrastructure.”

For this first-of-its-kind resource, the NSF awarded SDSC $5 million over five years, with matched funding for systems operation. The award will support hardware and deployment across three facilities: on the East Coast at the Massachusetts Green High-Performance Computing Center (MGHPCC) in Mount Holyoke, MA; in the Midwest at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL) and on the West Coast at SDSC, as well as five data caches in the Internet2 network backbone. 6108 Avenida Encinas, Suite B Carlsbad, CA 92011

GigaIO will contribute the ability to disaggregate and compose the various components of the HPC subsystem including a mix of field-programmable gate array (FPGA) units, graphics processing units (GPUs) with memory and storage, all connected with its fully integrated extremely low-latency fabric. With the ability to connect resources across entire racks exclusively in the native language they all “speak,” PCIe, GigaIO makes otherwise impossible configurations feasible for scientific experimentation. “We are thrilled that this award recognizes FabreX technology as the composable platform of choice to accelerate science for deployment in leading-edge research centers, eventually leading to adoption throughout scientific institutions nationwide,” said Alan Benjamin, CEO of GigaIO. The fundamentally open nature of the GigaIO platform, with off-the-shelf software orchestration options and open standard Redfish APIs, unlike the proprietary composable solutions from other vendors, complements the aspirations for the new research platform as an open system for scientists nationwide. “NRP provides resources and capabilities for diverse science, plus the expertise of systems people and the user community,” said Würthwein. “It’s an open system designed for growth and inclusion—a way for academic institutions to join a national system and, through their participation, enlarge and enrich the HPC ecosystem.” GigaIO’s broader mission is to democratize access to AI and HPC resources by enabling the sharing of expensive computing resources previously trapped and stranded inside a static data center infrastructure.

The broader impact of NRP furthers this goal with its focus on four themes: 1) empowering underrepresented and/or under-resourced researchers by making them “co-owners” of NRP, via the “Bring Your Own Resource (BYOR)/Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)” program; 2) societal wellbeing, focusing on health and disaster response; 3) STEM education, workforce development and outreach; and 4) enhancing industrial competitiveness. “Any campus in the continental United States is reachable from some of the NRP hardware within less than about 500 miles,” said Thomas De Fanti, distinguished professor emeritus of computer science at the University of Illinois at Chicago and research scientist at the Qualcomm Institute at UC San Diego. GigaIO’s FabreX has been gaining ground throughout some of those same institutions such as universities, national labs, and advanced computing centers. System deployment will take place at SDSC on the UC San Diego campus, where several science drivers from astrophysics, molecular dynamics, health sciences and more will participate. For example, Director of the National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research Mark Ellisman will consider how NRP can enhance NCMIR’s work with NSF and other agencies to build multi-scale wiring models of the brain and of the molecular components that make brain cells the most energy-efficient information mediators known. “Success on this project will allow more harmonization with other key NSF initiatives, like NeuroNex2,” noted Ellisman referencing the technology-enabled, team-based neuroscience project, for which he is a group leader. Of special interest to GigaIO’s home state of California, NRP will also support research on the science of wildfires. SDSC’s Chief Data Science Officer Ilkay Altintas, for example, works with researchers to build tools and techniques like WIFIRE for firefighters. NRP will offer urgent computing resources in support of fire-perimeter predictions that can be used on the ground by fire managers to identify where to most effectively deploy firefighting resources to achieve fire containment.

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