NFS Launches New Cloud Initiative

Two large research projects will explore advanced techniques for integrating cloud computing with academic research.

The US National Science Foundation (NFS) has announced awards totalling US$20 million for a pair of cloud computing projects that will support academic research to “develop and experiment with novel cloud architectures and pursue new, architecturally-enabled applications of cloud computing.”
The Chameleon project, co-located at the University of Chicago and the University of Texas Austin, will consist of 650 cloud nodes and 5 petabytes of storage. Unlike many cloud configurations, Chameleon will support “bare-metal access,” which will allow users to experiment with new, experimental virtualization technologies. Chameleon will also support “heterogeneous computer architectures, including low-power processors, GPUs, and field-programmable gate arrays, as well as a variety of network interconnects and storage devices. Reasearchers can mix-and-match hardware, software, and networking components and test their performance.”
The second project, dubbed CloudLab, is “a large-scale distributed infrastructure based at the University of Utah, Clemson University, and the University of Wisconsin.” The sites will be connected with 100 gigabit-per-second connections, and each site will include unique hardware and storage features, maximizing the possibilities for testing different architectures and configurations. In all, CloudLab will include approximately 15,000 processing cores.
The Chameleon and CloudLab projects will offer new opportunities for computer scientists to experiment with configurations and techniques that will one day facilitate better integration of cloud computing with academic research.