Exploring Clouds for Acceleration of Science
E-CAS Project Updates
December 2020: Phase Two Progress
We are now in phase two of the Exploring Clouds for Acceleration of Science (E-CAS) project, where the two selected teams that best-demonstrated innovation and the acceleration of science received sub-awards. These awards total around $880,000 each, including up to $500,000 to spend on cloud resources.About E-CAS
Phase 2 Projects
Two projects out of the six have selected for the program’s second phase, which runs from September 2020 to September 2021. These projects are currently developing and repeatedly running the science workloads at scale. The two selected projects are:
- “Deciphering the Brain’s Neural Code,” William Lytton and Salvador Dura-Burnal, SUNY Downstate Medical Centre
This project aims to help decipher the brain’s neural coding mechanisms with far-reaching applications, including developing treatments for brain disorders, advancing brain-machine interfaces for people with paralysis, and developing novel artificial intelligence algorithms. Using a software tool for brain modeling, researchers will run thousands of parallelized simulations exploring different conditions and inputs to the simulation of brain cortical circuits.
- “Heterogeneous computing for the Large Hadron Collider,” Philip Harris, MIT
Only a small fraction of the 40 million collisions per second at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) are stored and analyzed due to the huge volumes of data and the compute power required to process it. This project proposes a redesign of the algorithms using modern machine learning techniques that can be incorporated into heterogeneous computing systems, allowing more data to be processed and thus larger physics output and potentially foundational discoveries in the field.
- The project is running to schedule and budget. All six teams presented their work at a virtual workshop in early April 2020 and submitted phase one final reports by the end of April.
- The cloud providers (Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform) have committed around $750,000 in cloud credits to this project. This includes extra credits for committed spending beyond the initial commitments, representing a more than 70% extra value (or the equivalent of more than 40% savings).
- Subaward contracting has not been an issue, and teams have been able to utilize their existing cloud contracts. However, one team had significant delays in accessing GCP credits while their institution was negotiating their “whole of organization” GCP contract.
- The project highlights the potential procurement issues of awarding a large sum of money to an institution to spend with a certain cloud provider without going through a tender process. It also shows the need to use institutional contracts that are compliant with state procurement laws and guidelines.
- One obvious takeaway from each of the team’s presentations (and discussions in team meetings) is that the projects all require a team with diverse skills and research and technology support personnel to succeed.
Summary of Phase One Projects and Achievements
E-CAS in the News
- Internet2 Announces Selection of Two Research Teams for Final Phase of Exploring Clouds for Acceleration of Science Project
- E-CAS: Researchers Study The Brain’s Neural Code by Simulating Cortical Circuits on 100k Simultaneous Cores Using Google Cloud
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