UW–Madison’s IceCube Neutrino Observatory Wins HPCwire Award

The University of Wisconsin–Madison’s collaboration with the San Diego Supercomputer Center on the IceCube Neutrino Observatory received recognition with the HPCwire 2022 Readers’ Choice Award for Best Use of High Performance Computing (HPC) in the Cloud (Use Case). The case study focused on how IceCube uses Google Cloud, Google Kubernetes Engine, and GPU sharing among Nvidia GPUs in Google Kubernetes Engine to expand the Open Science Pool. Sharing increased job throughput by about 40%. That’s a lot more neutrinos that can be detected in the South Pole!

As with many awards, there are a lot of unsung heroes and that includes the Center for High Throughput Computing (CHTC) and its contributions to IceCube. “We have used CHTC and the Open Science Pool (OSPool) for over a decade to perform all large-scale data analysis tasks and generate Monte Carlo simulations of the instrument’s performance,” notes Francis Halzen, principal investigator of IceCube and the Hilldale and Gregory Breit Distinguished Professor of Physics. “Without CHTC and OSPool resources we would simply be unable to make any of IceCube’s groundbreaking discoveries.”

One of the key ways CHTC has supported IceCube is through the HTCondor Software Suite which is open-source software that CHTC has developed and enhanced for more than three decades. The HTCondor software enables researchers to handle large ensembles of computational tasks across sources of computing capacity and it is used by the IceCube collaboration to harness the computing capacity of the OSPool when analyzing the data from their neutrinos detector at the South Pole. 

Beyond facilitating advances in research, the HTCondor Software Suite is used by commercial entities like Dreamworks, Boeing, and SpaceX! Its broad reach is an indicator of CHTC’s extensive work in the distributed computing field. “We are incredibly proud of the work that CHTC accomplishes through global collaborations,” said Tom Erickson, founding director of the School of Computer, Data & Information Sciences (CDIS), which CHTC is part of. “CHTC is a pillar and point of excellence of CDIS and is integral to our long-term commitment to the advancement of science and society.” 

The annual HPCwire Readers’ and Editors’ Choice Awards are determined through a nomination and voting process with the global HPCwire community, as well as selections from the HPCwire editors. The awards are revealed each year to kick off the annual Supercomputing conference, which showcases high-performance computing, networking, storage, and data analysis.

The Center for High Throughput Computing (CHTC) is a research powerhouse located in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Computer, Data and Information Sciences (CDIS) and acts in partnership with the Morgridge Institute for Research. As an internationally recognized source of novel ideas and dependable software tools, CHTC’s work is without equal across the country’s research landscape. Operating on the forefront of distributed computing, CHTC helps enable scientists at the university and beyond to effectively harness computing capacity to conduct research and find solutions. At the same time, CHTC’s unique translational research methodology advances the whole of research computing through the testing and evaluation of projects under real-life conditions. The Center is driven by a mission to democratize computing so research projects of all sizes and budgets can benefit from state-of-the-art computing resources. CHTC is supported in part by the National Science Foundation (NSF). 

The IceCube Neutrino Observatory is funded and operated primarily through an award from the National Science Foundation to the University of Wisconsin–Madison. The IceCube Collaboration, with over 350 scientists in 58 institutions from around the world, runs an extensive scientific program that has established the foundations of neutrino astronomy.