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University of Iowa News Release

Jan. 30, 2006

UI Researchers Develop Information Systems For Cyberinfrastructure

When computer users are looking for information on the Internet, they often turn to Google.

Similarly, when researchers need help accessing worldwide computational resources, they can now turn to a new grid information service developed at the University of Iowa, namely the Open Science Grid Generic Information Provider (OSG-GIP).

Shaowen Wang, research scientist in the Academic Technologies-Research Services unit of UI Information Technology Services and adjunct assistant professor in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Department of Geography, says that OSG-GIP offers resource monitoring and discovery on computational grids, like Google offers for the Internet.

"Our OSG-GIP functions as a Google-like service deployed on the Open Science Grid that now consists of more than 50 universities and national labs in the United States," he says. "The Open Science Grid will continue to evolve toward a production-level national/international cyberinfrastructure through which users will have access to more than 100,000 CPUs (central processing units), 10s of petabytes (one petabyte equals one quadrillion bytes) of storage, and use multiple 10Gb/s (gigabits per second) network links between several hundred sites."

For example, if a geographer is working on a computational geographic information analysis requiring a large amount of computational resources available only through grids, he or she can rely on OSG-GIP for information about availability, characteristics and status of accessible resources.

While the OSG-GIP system has only become available in the last few months, the OSG Consortium was formed in 2004 to support intensive scientific computing among diverse groups of scientists on a common grid infrastructure. It was built and continues to be operated by a consortium of U.S. universities and national laboratories, including Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and the University of Iowa.

Initial OSG development is driven largely by U.S. participation in experiments at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), currently being built at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland. The distributed computing systems in the U.S. for the LHC experiments are being built and operated as part of the OSG. Other projects in such fields as physics, astrophysics, gravitational-wave science and biology contribute to the grid and benefit from advances in grid technology.

Wang says that OSG-GIP has been developed by GROW (Grid Research and education group @ IoWa), a group he heads, to provide scientists with access to interoperability, resource selection and other services. GROW consists mainly of UI faculty, staff and students from multiple disciplines.

The OSG-GIP development is partially supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) iVDGL (international Virtual Data Grid Laboratory) project in which the University of Iowa is a member institution. Wang serves as principle investigator for UI iVDGL activities, while Yasar Onel, UI professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, serves as co-principle investigator. The term "cyberinfrastructure" was coined by an NSF blue-ribbon committee to describe the new research environments in which advanced computational,  collaborative, data acquisition and management services are available to researchers through high-performance networks.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Galluzzo, 319-384-0009, gary-galluzzo@uiowa.edu