Indiana University Supers Munch on Electron Microscope Data

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The Indiana University Research Technologies High Performance Applications Group combined and the IU supcomputering facility are helping local researchers using a new electron microscope process complex data sets for immediate consumption.  The new electron microscope, acquired by IU in late 2008, is used for electron cryomicroscopy.  The technique samples very small items [such as microscopic proteins] for structural analysis at very low temperatures.  Scientists can also subject samples to vacuum environments and intense radiation.  As such, many of the samples are destroyed and/or damaged during analysis.  The researchers record large numbers of images during the sampling process and mathemtically average the results.  Hence the need for the IU supercomputing facility.

We especially needed a way for scientists using the microscope to be able to access and move exceptionally large data sets to and from the instrument quickly and easily,” said [David] Morgan. “The Pervasive Technology Institute HPA technologists helped us to achieve this using the Data Capacitor and other IU resources and applications. We were pleased to find the resources we needed to make the microscope work successfully available right here at home at IU and via the TeraGrid.”

David Morgan, director of the Cryo-Transmission Electron Microscopy Facility [cryoEM], approached the IU Research Technologies High Performance Applications [HPA] Group to assist building applications and infrastructure in order to optimize the microscope’s performance potential.  The IU HPA group came through with their Big Red and Quarry supercomputing resources coupled with a Lustre file system remotely mounted in the cryoEM data collection infrastructure over the WAN.

We are very pleased with the results thus far,” said Robert Henschel, manager of HPA group. “The data handling and life cycle challenges have been addressed by seamlessly integrating the Data Capacitor and HPSS into the data acquisition process. Careful optimization of applications has more than doubled execution speed and enabled the use of TeraGrid resources beyond IU. We look forward to continued work on this project.”

For more info on the successful collaboration at IU, read the full article here.