Cloudburst of Computing Power

For U.S. academics, computational resources are not hard to come by.  The National Science Foundation’s Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) program, for 25 years has made computation and storage platforms available, free-of-charge to academic researchers in the United States with high-performance computing (HPC) needs. “I have been shouting FREE COMPUTING TIME from the rooftops for about 5 years now,” says Jeff Gardner, who is UW’s campus ambassador for XSEDE. “By funding a dozen or so sites across the country, NSF ensured that every researcher gets the same access to the resources no matter where they are located.”

The Department of Energy and NASA also operate high-performance computing facilities, which are available to researchers whose projects are funded by those agencies. And at most top universities and research institutes, scientists can access high-performance computing clusters on campus, usually for a fee. Today there’s yet another new player on the scalable-computing scene: the cloud. At far-flung data centers, “elastic” clusters of computational capacity can be assembled on-demand. This is possible because companies have made commercial cloud platforms—Amazon Web Services, Windows Azure, Google Compute Engine, and such—available to scientists.

Read the entire article. html.