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2016-17 Introduction

With the passage of the state operating-budget bill in 1987, the Ohio Supercomputer Center was established “as a statewide resource available to Ohio research universities both public and private. It is also intended that the center be made accessible to private industry as appropriate.”

For the past 30 years, the staff of the Center has been focused on fulfilling that mission. We have been providing core computational, storage, software, training and consulting services to each of these vital communities, helping to enhance Ohio’s competitive position relative to other leading states. This Research Report is full of remarkable stories of our clients’ many achievements across an extremely broad range of fields of study. It reflects just a small slice of the impact the members of the OSC staff have been able to make in supporting clients across those three decades.

Advancing Discovery

The establishment of a supercomputer center within Ohio was driven by the computational needs of faculty members at Ohio’s research universities. Meeting those needs remains a pillar of our multi-faceted mission to this day; OSC provided services to more than 1,350 clients from 26 Ohio-based colleges and universities and 41 companies in 2016.

In March, OSC staff unveiled the most powerful supercomputer in the history of the Center, designed to serve the high performance compute (HPC) and storage needs of researchers at Ohio’s colleges and universities. The Owens Cluster—named for iconic Olympic athlete Jesse Owens—offers our clients the computational power of more than 23,000 cores. We also recently upgraded our entire data storage environment and renovated our data center suite.

Additionally, some groups and organizations have invested in condo arrangements that provide them with priority usage on a small, but significant, number of nodes on our supercomputers. Beyond the hardware, the OSC staff also provides training, in the form of either workshops or consultations, to help research teams achieve the most efficient use of our multiple systems. In fact, more than 200 individuals attended workshops offered by the Center in 2016. 

Enhancing Education

Another of our pillars is our role in supporting the academic enterprise of Ohio’s colleges and universities. Many primary investigators employ graduate and, sometimes, undergraduate students on their research teams. Access to OSC’s systems often speeds the pace of their academic research projects, which would have taken far longer or might have been entirely impossible to complete on desktop units. 

OSC also offers professors access to classroom accounts so that students can be given quality hands-on experience working on one of our clusters. Last year, OSC supported more than 31 academic courses with allocations of time on our systems, software provisioning and consultation. Additionally, we provide provosts and department heads with detailed information on OSC services to help recruit faculty members who see these services as a competitive advantage for locating in Ohio.

Driving Innovation

Supporting the research initiatives of Ohio business and industry is a third pillar of our mission at OSC. Charged with this goal from the beginning, OSC has become an international leader in the area of HPC industrial engagement. Just this spring, a business client leveraged 16,800 cores of the Owens Cluster to run the single-largest scale calculation in the Center’s history to test its massive database software.

Whether a firm— from a start-up to a large, established manufacturer—needs to purchase cycles on our supercomputer systems to run projects, wants to purchase access only for times when its in-house systems are at maximum capacity or prefers to address computational issues easily through our web-based AweSim portals, we have a solution to fit almost any computational challenge. 

Making access to supercomputing simpler and more intuitive has always been a goal of OSC, whether the client comes from industry, universities, government labs or elsewhere. This year, we launched Open OnDemand 1.0, an open-source version of OSC OnDemand—our “one-stop shop” for access to our high performance computing resources. Open OnDemand is available to HPC centers worldwide. To date, about a half-dozen HPC centers have installed and deployed the package, and another half-dozen have installed the portal for testing and evaluation.