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I2-NEWS: NCSA: Alliance In-A-Box Initiative Out of the Bag

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  • From: "Greg Wood" <>
  • To: <>
  • Subject: I2-NEWS: NCSA: Alliance In-A-Box Initiative Out of the Bag
  • Date: Fri, 29 Jun 2001 12:47:30 -0400
  • Importance: Normal


Karen Green
NCSA Public Information Officer

***Alliance In-A-Box Initiative Out of the Bag***

CHAMPAIGN, IL, June 28, 2001--The National Computational Science Alliance
(Alliance) is launching a software deployment effort this summer that
promises to make it easier and faster for the national research community
to take advantage of new technologies developed by the Alliance and its
lead institution, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications
(NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

This deployment effort--called the In-a-Box initiative--consists of four
interrelated software packages: Cluster-in-a-Box, Grid-in-a-Box, Access
Grid-in-a-Box, and Display Wall-in-a-Box. All of the In-a-Box software
packages will be available for download and on CD by the end of the summer.
They promise to lower the cost and expertise needed to utilize new
technologies and to create a new level of interoperability to support the
needs of the national research community.

"What we have created is a set of turnkey solutions that deliver important
enabling technologies developed by the Alliance," said Dan Reed, director
of the Alliance and NCSA. "These packages will bring a much wider
community into the new cyberinfrastruture that we have worked to develop
over the past five years. That infrastructure will drive scientific
discovery in the years to come, enabling researchers to collaborate over
long distances, gain access to the fastest supercomputers, and test
theories through simulations."

At the heart of the Alliance In-a-Box strategy is the Cluster-in-a-Box
(CiB), an effort that builds on the growing interest in commodity-based
cluster computing and open source software in both academia and the private
sector. The CiB effort has two goals: to develop and package software that
greatly simplifies the task of installing and running a parallel Linux
cluster that is compatible with the Alliance's large-scale production
clusters; and to provide a software foundation on which other software
packages--including grid toolkits and scalable display wall software--can
be built.

CiB builds on the work of the Open Cluster Group, which developed the Open
Source Cluster Applications Resources (OSCAR). OSCAR targets clusters up
to about 64 nodes that support Ethernet-based messaging. The larger
Alliance CiB effort expands on the work of the Open Cluster Group by
allowing users to create clusters of more than 64 nodes, by supporting
Myricom's Myrinet as the interconnect among cluster processors, and by
integrating Alliance software into the overall package.

The Grid-in-a-Box (GiB) deployment initiative is a natural extension of
years of work prototyping the national technology grid. GiB is a set of
tools, designed for maximum compatibility and ease of use, that make it
easier to access the computational grid, use grid resources, and offer
resources to others. It includes middleware for tasks such as
authentication, job management, and information discovery, as well as
Globus, a distributed computing toolkit, and Condor, a high-throughput
computing environment that utilizes unused compute cycles on desktop

The Alliance Display Wall-in-a-Box (Dbox) initiative builds upon the
Cluster-in-a-Box software and makes it simpler and less expensive to offer
high-end display capabilities on top of Linux clusters. Costs are
controlled by using commodity projectors and infrastructure and by
supplying well-documented open source utilities and applications. The Dbox
package includes display wall construction information, guidelines for
choosing projectors and graphics cards, a software toolkit of utilities and
applications, and descriptions of existing Alliance display walls. The
software package includes utilities for optimized movie playback and for
the display of pre-computed geometry. Sophisticated visualization
applications are also available.

The Access Grid-in-a-Box is the Alliance's effort to package and deploy
Access Grid software, thereby making it easier for users to join the Access
Grid community. The Access Grid is an integrated environment that supports
distributed meetings, remote visualization, and distance education. AGiB
will allow users to join the Access Grid community with ease, adding new
entry points to the collaborative environment. Five AGiB teams are
developing AGiB-related codes, producing end-user documentation, testing to
identify problems with new software, developing training materials, and
contributing and integrating software from outside sources to the overall
Access Grid project.

For more information about the In-a-Box initiatives or to download
software, visit the In-a-Box websites:

Display Wall-in-a-Box:
Access Grid-in-a-Box:

The National Computational Science Alliance is a partnership to prototype
an advanced computational infrastructure for the 21st century and includes
more than 50 academic, government and industry research partners from
across the United States. The Alliance is one of two partnerships funded by
the National Science Foundation's Partnerships for Advanced Computational
Infrastructure (PACI) program, and receives cost-sharing at partner
institutions. NSF also supports the National Partnership for Advanced
Computational Infrastructure (NPACI), led by the San Diego Supercomputer

The National Center for Supercomputing Applications is the leading-edge
site for the National Computational Science Alliance. NCSA is a leader in
the development and deployment of cutting-edge high-performance computing,
networking, and information technologies. The National Science Foundation,
the state of Illinois, the University of Illinois, industrial partners, and
other federal agencies fund NCSA.


Karen Green
Assistant Director for Communications
National Center for Supercomputing Applications
605 E. Springfield Ave.
Champaign, IL 61820

ph: 217-265-0748, fax: 217-244-7396

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  • I2-NEWS: NCSA: Alliance In-A-Box Initiative Out of the Bag, Greg Wood, 06/29/2001

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