Louisiana State University (LSU) installed a powerful combination of technology from Silicon Graphics for its Center for Computation & Technology, in August 2005. The purpose is to enable a wide range of scientific discovery efforts, including storm surge mapping of Hurricane Katrina.
LSU purchased the Silicon Graphics Prism visualization system with six ATI FireGL graphics processors, 32 Intel Itanium 2 processors running Linux OS with SGI ProPack 4 for Linux, and a 10gigE interface as well as SGI OpenGL Vizserver software. The Silicon Graphics PrismExtreme visualization system and SGI Visual Area Networking (VAN) technology will also add real-time 3D collaborative visualization to the emerging statewide 40Gb optical network called LONI (Louisiana Optical Network Initiative).
There are a number of storm modeling groups on the LSU campus, tied together under one umbrella. One of the major groups is the Center for the Study of Public Health Impacts of Hurricanes (CSPHIH). Before, during, and in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, CSPHIH computed the ADCIRC tidal surge model on LSU’s 1024-processor SuperMike Linux cluster and then viewed the data in 2D on small workstations. The group regularly provides 2D data to Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs) in Baton Rouge as well as other states, when hurricanes are bearing down on the coast. With the 2006 Hurricane Season less than three months away and already expected to be about as active as 2005, the Silicon Graphics Prism visualization system is expected to improve the way data is provided to EOCs. The Visualization, Interaction, and Digital Arts (VIDA) division of CCT took this and other simulations and observational data, and viewed them in 3D on the Silicon Graphics Prism visualization system. Underlying datasets include the MM5 atmospheric model (including temperature gradients and wind field vector data), satellite infrared time-series images and tidal surge data. Using multi-resolution aerial photography of New Orleans, their visualization zooms into the Louisiana coast in a spectacular fly-in opening, right through the eye of the hurricane, soon followed by the tidal surge and its flooding aftermath.
Hurricane Katrina’s devastation has provided a significant opportunity for scientific research and simulation – all focused on avoiding similar disasters in the future. The models needed to simulate its effects under differing conditions in real time require the processing of enormous data sets and the collaboration of researchers throughout Louisiana and the country. These collaborations, with the aid of the Louisiana Optical Network Initiative and the National Lambda Rail, are made possible with the industry-leading shared memory capabilities of the SGI Extreme Prism, and the ease of its integration into a heterogeneous distributed cluster environment, like that at LSU,” said Tom Mountcastle, president of James River Technical.
Pictures courtesy by Louisiana State University.