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OptIPuter All Hands Meeting: The Road Ahead

L. Smarr and M. Ellisman, mouse cerebellum
OptIPuter principal investigator and Calit2 director Larry Smarr (left) and Mark Ellisman, director and principal investigator of NCMIR discuss mouse cerebellum image magnified several thousand times. The image is displayed on an OptIPuter tiled-wall located in the National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research (NCMIR) at UCSD, an OptIPuter partner.

San Diego, CA, February 5, 2007 -- The "road ahead" was the overall theme of this year's OptIPuter All Hands Meeting (AHM) and Open House. OptIPuter is a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded Information Technology Research project, currently in its fifth and final year. Project participants, partners and affiliates came together to describe accomplishments, discuss the final year, and identify partners for the future.

Nearly 70 funded and affiliate partners from North America, Europe and Asia attended the two-day event, which was hosted by the UCSD division of Calit2, in Atkinson Hall. The annual OptIPuter AHM is a forum for face-to-face discussions of current activities and accomplishments, as well as setting goals for the coming year.

Day one (Monday, January 22) consisted of a series of working meetings for OptIPuter partners only. The open house on day two (Tuesday, January 23) was for project partners and participants, as well as community members, potential partners and others interested in learning more about the OptIPuter research and development activities. Presentation slides from both days are available online: AHM 2007 Slides.

The OptIPuter has a broad multidisciplinary team led by Calit2 (UC San Diego and UC Irvine) and the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). The OptIPuter is prototyping a 21st-century cyberinfrastructure, based on optical networking, to support data-intensive scientific research and collaboration. This infrastructure will enable scientists to collaborate with remote colleagues and large-scale data sets in real time over dedicated optical networks.

Camera genetic data
Camera genetic data, detail
It is possible to drill down deeply into a data set, in this case genetics data from the CAMERA project, an OptIPuter partner.

Streaming video of the Open House presentations is available
[Real player and broadband connection are required: Presentations].

In its fourth year, the first broad adoption of OptIPuter results was seen. In a major outreach effort, OptIPuter technologies had a pervasive presence at Supercomputing 2006 (SC06) last fall in Tampa, FL, participating in more than two dozen different booths, indicating the depth and breadth of ongoing partners and collaborations. It showcased how advanced applications -- geoscience, bioscience and metagenomics -- are benefiting from OptIPuter technologies on a global scale.

OptIPuter has stimulated global interest in using dedicated 1- or 10-Gbps lightwaves (or "lambdas") over fiber optics. Parallel lambdas are expected to be available for single users in 2007 on several campuses. With the increase of bandwidth to the user of between 100 and 1000 times that of the shared Internet, the OptIPuter requires a new termination device, which can scale with the bandwidth. These devices, termed OptIPortals, are what the PC is to the shared Internet. OptIPortals are based on commodity parts consisting of large tiled displays running OptIPuter-developed software that enable collaborators to access, display and share information, from ultra-high-resolution picture files to computer-generated simulation movies to high-definition teleconferencing to documents and slide presentations.

"It is exciting to see the national and international collaborations that are possible using OptIPuter," said Calit2 UCSD's new technology infrastructure manager, Tad Reynales. A first-time attendee at the OptIPuter annual meeting, he also commented, "Now this capability needs to be extended to all of the UC campuses, to enable California to participate fully in the scientific research community."

University of California campuses have begun adopting OptIPuter technologies (UCSD, UC Irvine, and next UC Davis, with more coming). OptIPortal development and implementation is progressing well: 2-D versions are being installed to support e-science; 3-D OptIPortals -- CAVEs and Varriers -- developed by UIC are under testing and development.

OptIPuter is successfully supporting research efforts in brain imaging and earth sciences. There have been several recent adoptions in new scientific disciplines, including digital cinema (CineGrid), microbial metagenomics (CAMERA), ocean observatories (LOOKING, NEPTUNE and ORION) and telescience.

The OptIPuter exploits a new world in which the central architectural element is optical networking, not computers -- creating "SuperNetworks." Day two of the meeting, the Open House, was devoted to new applications of these SuperNetworks. Streaming video of many of these presentations is available [Real player and broadband connection are required: Open House Presentations].

"During this final year we will continue to grow the list of research projects that will benefit from the persistent infrastructure and innovations of the OptIPuter research project," said Joe Keefe, research project manager at Calit2 UCSD. "The accomplishments that we have seen over these past five years, are now being applied to whole research communities-such as the CAMERA marine microbial metagenomics community."

Jason Leigh multiple images
In the Calit2/CEOA booth at SC'06, EVL research professor Luc Renambot (right foreground) demonstrates the Scalable Adaptive Graphics Enviornment (SAGE), streaming several high-definition (HD) videos to the OptIPortal (tiled wall display in background): a live HD video of director Jason Leigh (lower left); a live HD video of Luc at the OptIPortal (to the right of Jason); an HD animation of currents in Monterey Bay by NCSA and Scripps (upper left); and an HD video of organisms on the bottom of the seafloor off the coast of Washington, done as part of the LOOKING project and produced by ResearchChannel (upper right).

SAGE software, developed by OptIPuter partner UIC Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL), serves as a window manager, allowing users to move, resize and overlap windows on tiled displays as easily as on standard desktop computers.

Many of the meeting participants felt that this year's meeting was bittersweet because the five year adventure will be coming to an end on September 30, 2007 and this was the last OptIPuter AHM. This was ameliorated by the celebration of accomplishments and especially by the planning discussions for this year and the exchanges on the numerous potential roads to the future.

OptIPuter principal investigator and Calit2 director Larry Smarr expressed the wish that the meetings continue, though in a different form, under another aegis. The work and the relationships will continue, even beyond the next nine months. "This has certainly been one of the best adventures we ever stirred up together," said Smarr, "it's a tremendous group of people to work with, most of whom will continue to work together in one way or another."

Smarr summed up the road already taken and the one ahead: "It will always be driven by new applications that are being built on the products of our OptIPuter research team. That's the part that is most rewarding to me."

OptIPuter is a five-year, $13.5-million project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). It was one of the largest Information Technology Research (ITR) projects funded. The California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, a UCSD/UCI partnership, and the Electronic Visualization Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) lead the research team.

Academic partners include the San Diego Supercomputer Center, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and School of Medicine at UCSD, Northwestern University, San Diego State University, University of Southern California/Information Sciences Institute, University of California-Irvine, Texas A&M University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign/National Center for Supercomputing Applications; and, affiliate partners at the U.S. Geological Survey EROS, NASA, University of Michigan, Purdue University, University of Amsterdam and SARA Computing and Network Services in The Netherlands, CANARIE and Communications Research Centre in Canada, the Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information (KISTI) in Korea, and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) in Japan; and, industrial partners Big Bangwidth, Calient Networks, Chiaro Networks, Glimmerglass Networks, IBM, Lucent Technologies, Rincon Research Corporation, Sun Microsystems and Telcordia Technologies.