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San Diego Supercomputer Center and San Diego State Receive CENIC Award for Supporting Equitable CI

Published April 2, 2024

TIDE.  Credit: CENIC

By Kimberly Mann Bruch, SDSC Communications (adapted from CENIC blog)

CENIC recently presented their 2024 Innovations in Networking Award for Equitable Access to Cyberinfrastructure (CI) to the Technology Infrastructure for Data Exploration (TIDE) Project. TIDE is a partnership between San Diego State University (SDSU) and the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at UC San Diego, and it extends the CENIC AI Resource (CENIC-AIR), the California portion of the National Research Platform, beyond SDSU to three additional California State University (CSU) campuses: CSU San Bernardino, Cal Poly Humboldt and CSU Stanislaus. The CENIC Innovations in Networking Awards recognize exemplary people, projects and organizations that leverage high-bandwidth networking.

The new TIDE cyberinfrastructure, which is interconnected and accessed via the CENIC network, is supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF). The project was spearheaded by Jerry Sheehan, now chief information officer (CIO) at the Salk Institute, during his time as CIO at SDSU.

“Innovation arises by building upon the groundbreaking work of others. (TIDE) exemplifies this springboard approach to innovation by leveraging the CENIC network's robust foundation and our partners' computational expertise at the San Diego Supercomputer Center,” Sheehan said. “This collaboration has enabled the establishment of a transformational computational core at San Diego State University, which will serve as a pivotal resource for the entire California State University system. We are honored to receive the CENIC equitable access award, recognizing our commitment to advancing technological infrastructure and promoting equitable access to cutting-edge research and educational opportunities.”

TIDE’s origins

The TIDE effort originated and was organized within the CSU, among the largest and most diverse higher education systems in the country. In addition to computer and storage resources, TIDE provides more access to high-performance computing resources for CSU researchers and their students.

“It is a great honor to receive this award,” SDSC Director Frank Würthwein said. “As much as we are excited about our work with CENIC, SDSU and the CSU system, we expect that this is just the beginning. We hope to build on it with AI training programs like the CIP Fellows Award and replicate it nationwide by working with CENIC’s peers across the U.S.”

Through CSU’s connection to CalREN, participating institutions can “burst” to more extensive national resources through integration into the 1,200 GPU nodes and 21,000 CPU-cores of the National Research Platform (NRP). A partnership of more than 50 institutions nationwide, led by researchers and cyberinfrastructure professionals at UC San Diego, NRP is a national open-access, scalable cyberinfrastructure for research and education grown through the in-kind contributions of its user community.

“We are excited to see NRP usage rapidly expanding from the original 25 research universities comprising the Pacific Research Platform (PRP),” UC San Diego Professor Emeritus Larry Smarr said. “The California subset of the NRP, the CENIC AI Resource (CENIC-AIR), is available for use by all CENIC member institutions for both research and education purposes. The NSF TIDE Award will accelerate the engagement of CENIC-AIR across the CSU system.”

Potential of CENIC-AIR for California students and faculty

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are opening new career paths for students at all levels who will become the next facilitators of academic research and private sector innovation, with the potential to transform society in positive and beneficial ways. CENIC-AIR provides California’s research and education communities a platform to enable their faculty and students to constructively contribute to this transformation and collaborate extensively with colleagues nationwide over the same shared Kubernetes-orchestrated infrastructure.

Tom DeFanti, principal investigator at UC San Diego and CENIC, also finds the potential of improved NRP access exciting. “Artificial intelligence/machine learning is primarily an experiential science – one learns by doing – and CENIC-AIR is a great launching pad for faculty and students all over California,” he said. “Just as SDSU is doing, CENIC-connected campuses can also host on-premises compute and data nodes that become part of CENIC-AIR, taking advantage of the NRP’s node administration and CENIC’s advanced network services and expertise.”

Louis Fox, CENIC's CEO, added “It is always gratifying to see how our members use the CENIC network as a platform to advance research and education and, in doing so, inspire other segments and create new opportunities for them which in turn motivates the CENIC team to advance our networks and services.”

TIDE is supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation (award no. 2346701).