Vast efficiency improvements when using the grid

New software from the areas of gravitational physics and genome research reduces work efforts by 95%. Presentation from 22 to 24 March in Dresden.

March 19, 2010

Astrophysicists and genome researchers will be presenting software tools in Dresden that are set to ease access to the immense computing capacities of the grid. The automatic distribution and control of computer programmes in the grid enables their intensive use in the first place. This moves grid computing for all into the realm of the possible. The results will be presented for the very first time at the “All-Hands-Meeting”, the most important German conference devoted to grid computing. The All-Hands-Meeting will take place from 22-24 March at the TU Dresden: Hörsaalzentrum, Bergstrasse 64, 01062 Dresden.

Background information

Since 2004, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has been funding the cross-linking of data centres within the framework of the D-Grid-Initiative. Grid refers to a highly heterogenous network of computers. This network encompasses both computing centres at universities and research facilities, as well as individual PCs. The aim of grid projects is the joint, effective use of these computer resources, as these are rarely working to 100% capacity.

The Group headed by Beck-Ratzka at the AEI has been successfully using grid resources since 2007 for data analyses. When it comes to taking advantage of the D-Grid resources, the largest proportion by far can be claimed by the scientists who analyze the data from the gravitational wave observatories. Since its founding in 1995, the AEI has been playing a leading role in the development of software within the framework of grid computing. This also includes the Grid Application Toolkit (GAT) with which the AEI will be making previously inaccessible D-Grid resources available.

In addition to these uses in astrophysics, grid resources were a decisive factor in an international cooperative venture in finding, in a group of over 20,000 people, DNA sequences that especially provide critical impulses for the treatment of chronic pulmonary diseases. Tobias A. Knoch has been working since 1996 with parallel supercomputers to more precisely understand the three-dimensional organization of DNA as well as the entire cell nucleus. For his international working group, grid usage is, in the meantime, the biggest element among the employed resources for the analysis of DNA sequence patterns, as well as for locating and analyzing genetic indicators of diseases.

With the help of an automated method for the distribution of various data analyses on the decentralized computer, the Group headed by Alexander Beck-Ratzka is now facilitating the use of inactive resources. Within the framework of the AstroGrid-D, DGI-1 and DGI- 2 projects, funded by the BMBF, the GAT (Grid Application Toolkit), developed at the AEI as part of the GridLab EU project, has been completed to the extent that it can now be used for the simple distribution of programmes in the grid.

The working group headed by Tobias A. Knoch not only set up its own grid with desktop computers (Erasmus Computing Grid), but, within the framework of the BMBF funded MediGRID and Services@MediGRID, as well as part of the European Europäischen EDGeS project, has also developed a software package with which computing tasks can be easily distributed and managed via various grid infrastructures.

Both systems are intended in future to be made available in a way that is as user-friendly as possible and be integrated in the medium term. To do this, the scientific application programmers want to develop a web portal with all of the necessary functionalities.

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