December 20, 2023
Theta supercomputer set to retire: A look back at its impact on science at Argonne and beyond
Newswise — After more than six years of enabling breakthroughs in scientific computing, the Theta supercomputer at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory will be retired at the end of the year. Launched in July of 2017, the machine delivered 202 million compute hours to more than 600 projects, propelling advances in areas ranging from battery research to fusion energy science . “Theta was a pivotal system for science at Argonne and beyond,” said Michael Papka, director of the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF), a DOE Office of Science user facility. ​“Not only did Theta deliver on our mission to enable large-scale computational science campaigns, but it was also the supercomputer that continued our transformation into a user facility that supports machine learning and data science methods alongside more traditional modeling and simulation projects.” Theta’s run as an Argonne supercomputer coincided with the emergence of Artificial intelligence ( AI ) as a critical tool for science. The system provided researchers with a platform that could handle a mix of simulation, AI and data analysis tasks, catalyzing groundbreaking studies across diverse scientific domains. Around the same time that Theta made its debut in 2017, the facility launched the ALCF Data Science Program (ADSP) to support high performance computing (HPC) projects that were employing machine learning and other AI methods to tackle big data challenges. This initiative gave the facility’s data science and learning capabilities a boost while also building up a new community of users. “The ADSP helped jumpstart our efforts to support more data-intensive and AI -driven research,” said Venkat Vishwanath, ALCF data science team lead. ​“Our staff gained invaluable experience working with projects, tools and technologies at the forefront of using AI for science. Our work with Theta via the ADSP really paved the way to more science communities coming to the ALCF for their big data challenges.” Theta will be succeeded by Polaris and the Aurora exascale system as the lab’s primary supercomputers for open scientific research. Theta’s Intel architecture and its expansion to include NVIDIA graphics processing units (GPUs) have played a key role in helping the facility and its user community transition to Polaris’ hybrid architecture and Aurora’s cutting-edge Intel exascale hardware. “We learned a lot from Theta,” said Kalyan Kumaran, ALCF director of technology. ​“It was our first Intel-based supercomputer, so it kicked off our close collaborations with Intel on the path to exascale. The later addition of GPUs gave us a platform that took our AI for science and data-intensive analysis capabilities to new levels.” Funded by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in 2020, the system’s GPU hardware expansion, known as ThetaGPU, was initially dedicated to COVID-19 research. The GPU-powered component was later made available to all research projects. After Theta’s retirement at the end of the year, the ThetaGPU hardware will be repurposed to create a new machine called Sophia for specialized tasks, including a major focus on supporting AI for science. Supercomputer, super science Beyond its powerful hardware, the system’s legacy will be the research breakthroughs it enabled over the years. From detailed molecular simulations to massive cosmological models, Theta supported hundreds of computationally intensive research projects that are only possible at a supercomputing facility like the ALCF. Theta allowed researchers to perform some of the world’s largest simulations of engines and supernovae . The system powered efforts to model the spread of COVID-19 and assess the energy use of the nation’s buildings . It enabled AI -driven research to accelerate the search for catalysts -for-decarbonization-technology-from-months-to" href="https://www.anl.gov/article/machine-learning-model-speeds-up-assessing- catalysts -for-decarbonization-technology-from-months-to" target="_blank">new catalysts and promising drug candidates . Theta also gave industry research and development a boost, helping TAE Technologies inform the design of its fusion energy devices, advancing 3M’s efforts to improve the energy efficiency of a manufacturing process, and generating data to aid ComEd in preparing for the potential impacts of climate change. The list of impactful science projects goes on and on. “It’s amazing to look back at the breadth of innovative studies carried out on Theta,” said Katherine Riley, director of science at the ALCF. ​“We had traditional HPC projects that used Theta for extreme-scale simulations, but we also supported some new use cases that were pushing scientific machine learning in exciting new directions.” One of the pioneering machine learning projects was led by Jacqueline Cole of the University of Cambridge. With support from the ADSP, her team used Theta to speed up the process of identifying new materials for improved solar cells . It began with an effort to sort through hundreds of thousands of scientific journals to collect data on a wide variety of chemical compounds. The team created an automated workflow that combined simulation, data mining and machine learning techniques to zero in on the most promising candidates from a pool of nearly 10,000 compounds. This allowed the researchers to pinpoint five high-performing materials for laboratory testing. “The advantage of this process is that it takes away the old manual curation of databases, which involves many years’ worth of work, and reduces it to a matter of a few months and, ultimately, a few days,” Cole said. Simulating supernova explosions is another area of research that benefitted from Theta’s computational muscle. As part of a multi-year project, Adam Burrows of Princeton University used the supercomputer to advance the state of the art in performing supernova simulations in 3D . The team’s work on Theta has included carrying out one of the largest collections of 3D supernova simulations and the longest duration full-physics 3D supernova calculation ever performed. With their time on Theta now coming to an end, the Princeton team plans to continue their work to carry out longer and more detailed 3D supernova simulations on Polaris and soon Aurora. “Big iron HPC resources such as Theta, Polaris and Aurora are central to our ability to actually simulate this complicated problem,” Burrows said. While Theta will retire from its full-time role at the end of the year, the system will support one last research campaign in 2024 before it’s officially powered down. As part of a collaboration between the DOE-supported LSST Dark Energy Science Collaboration and NASA-supported researchers, a multi-institutional team will use Theta to produce 3 million simulated images for the surveys to be conducted by the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope and the Vera C. Rubin Observatory . The team will generate a set of overlapping Roman-Rubin time domain surveys at the individual pixel level. These detailed images will enable the exploration of highly impactful joint science opportunities between the two surveys, especially for dark energy studies. “This will be a very exciting last hurrah for Theta,” Riley said. ​“We expect the team’s simulations will spur new findings in cosmology and astrophysics for years to come.” The Argonne Leadership Computing Facility provides supercomputing capabilities to the scientific and engineering community to advance fundamental discovery and understanding in a broad range of disciplines. Supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Science, Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) program, the ALCF is one of two DOE Leadership Computing Facilities in the nation dedicated to open science. Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science . The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://​ener​gy​.gov/​s​c​ience .
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Star Wars Director Says It's About Time A Woman Makes A Star Wars Movie
Jan 02, 2024
Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy is directing an upcoming Star Wars movie that brings back Daisy Ridley in the role of Rey. Obaid-Chinoy will become the first woman to direct a Star Wars film, dating back to the franchise's origins in the 1970s. Speaking about this, Obaid-Chinoy told CNN that she is "very thrilled" to make the movie and create something that is "very special.""We're in 2024 now, and I think it's about time we had a woman come forward to shape the story in a galaxy far, far away," she said.Obaid-Chinoy won Best Documentary, Short Subjects Academy Awards for Saving Face (2012) and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015).In 2020, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy told the BBC that a woman would eventually direct a Star Wars movie, saying that would "absolutely" happen, "without question." Victoria Mahoney was a second unit director on The Rise of Skywalker, but a woman has never claimed a top directing credit on a Star Wars movie.On the TV side of things, The Mandalorian has featured a number of female directors, including Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard. Chow went on to direct the Obi-Wan TV series, too.Another high-profile franchise that has never had a female director is James Bond. Producer Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall director Sam Mendes have both said they want to see a woman direct a future 007 film.As for Obaid-Chinoy's Star Wars movie, little is known about it apart from the fact that Ridley will come back to play Rey. It is expected that this film will be the first of the three new Star Wars films to come to theaters, possibly releasing in December 2025.According to a report, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is writing the Rey movie, taking over for Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.
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NBA Names Clare Akamanzi CEO Of NBA Africa
Jan 02, 2024 15:29
The NBA named Clare Akamanzi – an accomplished business executive and international trade and investment lawyer – as CEO of NBA Africa. Akamanzi will start her position on Jan. 23, 2024, and report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. In this role, Akamanzi will oversee the NBA’s business and basketball development efforts in Africa and will be responsible for continuing to grow the popularity of basketball, the NBA and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) across the continent, including through grassroots basketball development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families. For the last six and a half years, Akamanzi was CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), where she spearheaded Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. Under Akamanzi’s leadership, RDB implemented several business policy reforms and initiatives that led to significant investment and development for the country, including through partnerships with the BAL, Arsenal FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, FC Bayern Munich and TIME Magazine, among others. “Clare’s business acumen, international experience and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her the ideal executive to lead our business in Africa,” says Tatum. “NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa League are well-positioned for continued growth, and under Clare’s leadership we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities and lives across the continent.” “I’ve seen firsthand how sports can positively impact businesses, families and communities in Africa, and the NBA and the BAL are a perfect example of that,” says Akamanzi. “The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum.” Previously, Akamanzi was Chief Operating Officer of RDB and Head of Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of the President of the Republic of Rwanda. She has extensive international trade, business and diplomatic experience, having previously worked for the Rwandan Government at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and at the Rwandan Embassy in London, England. Akamanzi has worked or studied in seven different countries and holds an honorary LLD from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in recognition of her work in Rwanda. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was the recipient of three prestigious awards for academic excellence and distinguished contribution to the community: the Lucius N. Littauer Fellows Award, the Raymond & Josephine Vernon Award and the Robert Kennedy Public Service Award. In addition, Akamanzi holds a Master of Laws degree in international trade and investments from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Akamanzi has served on several company boards, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation, ECOBANK and Aviation, Travel and Logistics (ATL) company. She was recognized by Forbes as one of Africa’s Top 50 Powerful Women in 2020.
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