Wednesday, November 9, 2011

GARUDA Grid .... Helping Cross Computational Barricades !!!!!

04/11/2011: Further strengthening the collaborative endeavors, an MOU was signed between CSIR/OSDD and CDAC ,Bangalore,  providing, the Garuda grid supercomputing facility to OSDD on 4th Nov 2011.The MOU was signed at Jawahar Lal  Nehru University, New Delhi by OSDD Project Director  Mr. Zakir Thomas and  Chief Investigator, GARUDA, CDAC. Dr. Subrata Chattopadhyay. The OSDD team was represented by Project Director Mr. Zakir Thomas and principle investigators Dr Anshu Bhardwaj and Dr Andrew Lynn. 

OSDD–CDAC partnership came into existence, with the recognition of the need of high performance computing in the OSDD drug discovery process and GARUDA grid of CDAC was proposed as the possible solution for the computing problems faced by the members of OSDD community. Set up in 1988, Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) is the premier R&D organization of the Department of Information Technology (DIT), Ministry of Communications & Information Technology (MCIT) for carrying out R&D in IT, Electronics and associated areas. CDAC was originally founded with the aim of building Supercomputers within the country, in context of denial of import of Supercomputers by USA. Since then CDAC has been undertaking building of multiple generations of Supercomputer starting from PARAM with 1 GF in 1988.Along with its core function of providing supercomputing facilities to the country, CDAC has been functioning in various areas like building Indian Language Computing Solutions, on various aspects of applied electronics, technology and applications, Health Informatics and various education & training activities. CDAC has since it’s foundation, emerged as a premier third party R&D organization in Information Technologies and Electronics in the country working on strengthening national technological capabilities. As an institution for high-end Research and Development C-DAC has been at the forefront of the IT revolution, constantly building capacities in emerging/enabling technologies and innovating and leveraging its expertise, caliber, skill sets to develop and deploy IT products and solutions for different sectors of the economy, education and research
As the OSDD projects moved into their second phase, involving Cheminformatics group, the activities became computation intensive the need of high performance computing was recognized. The members of the Cheminformatics group involved in building computational models in order to screen molecules for anti TB activity were confronted with the issues of internet connectivity, connection speed, and power supply interruption, hassles, which were likely to slow down the progress of the work .It became mandatory to employ supercomputing power where in many CPU/ Clusters could be connected to give much enhanced computing power and GARUDA grid of CDAC came to the rescue. The GARUDA Grid is the computational grid developed by Center for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC) which has approx 6000 CPUs and 70 teraflops computing power. It connects 45 institutes across the country through high speed NKN (National Knowledge Network) connectivity. GARUDA resources are accessed through the high-speed communication fabric and the user friendly GARUDA Access Portal provides user interface to the Grid resources thereby hiding the complexity of the Grid from the users. The GARUDA Access Portal is also accessible through Internet so that users not belonging to the GARUDA Network can submit jobs on any of the GARUDA resources. Along with the GUI, Grid resources can also be accessed through command line interface. GARUDA allows submission of both sequential and parallel jobs and also provides job submission mechanisms like Problem Solving Environments (PSE) which are specialized software for solving one class of problems, such as Bio –informatics and Work flow tools which consists of a sequence of connected steps, serving as a virtual representation of actual work.

As a flag off to this collaboration a GARUDA Boot Camp was held at Malabar Christian College, Calicut from 28th - 29th December 2010. The boot camp was aimed at providing hands on training to selected OSDD members on usage of GARUDA grid and included presentations and hands-on sessions on GARUDA Architecture, Tools, Security, and Application enablement. The boot camp was well received and OSDD members from different parts of the country attended the camp. Since then, OSDD members spread across the country, have been using the GARUDA Grid to perform data mining and modeling experiments, which otherwise would have been a very tedious task on the existing user personal computers. Over 25 fold decrease in computing time has been observed when compared to user PC’s and  GARUDA grid has enabled the users to submit multiple jobs at a time increasing the efficiency and accelerating the process of drug discovery.

GARUDA grid of CDAC, has enabled OSDD researchers and students from ordinary institutes across the country to conduct experiments requiring high computing facility without interruption and is indeed one of the most important resources of OSDD. This OSDD –CDAC collaboration will definitely yield valuable results in  the drug discovery process in future.

Acknowledgement : Pushpdeep Mishra  
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