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NSF Announces Continuing Steps To Enhance Cyberinfrastructure

October 28, 2003

The National Science Foundation (NSF) continues to take steps toward deploying an enhanced cyberinfrastructure for science and engineering research and education. These steps build on the results of FY 2003 competitions, and draw upon input from the academic community and NSF’s programmatic directorates and offices, as well as recommendations from the report of the NSF Advisory Committee on Cyberinfrastructure.

During FY 2003, NSF announced awards that bring new scientific capability at four new partner sites to the Extensible Terascale Facility, expanded the NSF Middleware Initiative’s efforts in testing, portals and instrumentation, and established eleven testbeds to advance next-generation networking capabilities. The agency’s Information Technology Research (ITR) priority area also yielded eight new large-scale projects, most targeting IT research in a range of scientific fields that will inform the future development of cyberinfrastructure.

During the past summer, NSF solicited advice and input from the academic community through two workshops and a town hall meeting to discuss management and models for cyberinfrastructure. Internally, the agency convened a Cyberinfrastructure Working Group to explore challenges and opportunities in all science and engineering fields. With guidance from these and other sources, NSF has outlined the following steps in the ongoing transition.

As previously announced, the Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (PACI) have been extended through the end of FY 2004. During this period, both PACI lead sites - the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) and the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) will deploy significant technology upgrades, almost doubling the high-end computing resources that NSF makes available to the nation’s scientists and engineers. NSF plans include revised agreements with NCSA and SDSC to ensure the continuing provision of high-end computing resources and related services to the national community through the end of FY 2007. In addition, SDSC and NCSA will work in partnership with NSF and the science and engineering community at large to define emerging cyberinfrastructure opportunities to advance all fields. These and other community activities will inform NSF's development of future cyberinfrastructure-enhancing competitions.

Complementing the cyberinfrastructure resources and services provided by NCSA and SDSC, the Extensible Terascale Facility (ETF) - which is on track to be commissioned October 1, 2004 - will demonstrate the potential of revolutionary grid computing approaches to advance science and engineering research and education. Additional ETF upgrades are being planned for FY 2004, where plans include new capability computing for the Terascale Computing System at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC). This represents the final stage of the ETF’s construction phase. Support for the management and operations of ETF-enabled cyberinfrastructure will be provided beginning in FY 2005 and extending through FY 2009.

To ensure that all science and engineering communities are prepared to inform the development of and effectively utilize the broad, evolving cyberinfrastructure, NSF plans to hold an open competition during FY 2004 that will ultimately support a comprehensive set of education, training and outreach awards. This competition will build on the work of the successful PACI Education, Outreach and Training (EOT) and other activities.

NSF’s goal is to ensure the development of a national cyberinfrastructure that is second to none. The resulting widely distributed, shared cyberinfrastructure will advance discovery, learning and innovation across the science and engineering enterprise.

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