NCSA 30 | About us
50934
page-template,page-template-full_width,page-template-full_width-php,page,page-id-50934,ajax_updown_fade,page_not_loaded,,tactile-ver-1.8.1,smooth_scroll,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-4.11.2.1,vc_responsive
 

About us

Who we are

The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) is a hub of transdisciplinary research and digital scholarship where University of Illinois faculty, staff, and students, and collaborators from around the globe, unite to address research grand challenges for the benefit of science and society.

Current research focus areas are Bioinformatics and Health Sciences, Computing and Data Sciences, Culture and Society, Earth and Environment, Materials and Manufacturing, and Physics and Astronomy.

The Center also provides computing, data, networking, and visualization resources and expertise that are essential to the work of scientists, engineers, and scholars at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and across the country.

NCSA is also an engine of economic impact for the state and the nation, helping companies address computing and data challenges and providing hands-on training for undergraduate and graduate students and post-docs.

Since January 2014, NCSA has been led by Ed Seidel, a distinguished researcher in high-performance computing and relativity and astrophysics who is also a Founder Professor of Physics and professor of Astronomy.

Established in 1986 as one of the original sites of the National Science Foundation’s Supercomputer Centers Program, NCSA is supported by the state of Illinois, the University of Illinois, the National Science Foundation, and grants from other federal agencies.

NCSA Directors Through the Years

1986-2016

team_image

Larry Smarr

1986-1999
team_image

Dan Reed

2000-2004
team_image

Thom Dunning

2005-2012
team_image

Ed Seidel

2013-present

Highlights through the years

1986-2016

  • Cybersecurity team nets four awards in 24 hours

    The NCSA Cybersecurity team received four grants—two for continuing work, and two for starting new projects, all within a 24-hour period. At the beginning of September, Alex Withers, senior security engin ...

    2016
  • Dark Energy Survey releases early data

    Catalogs of galaxies and stars derived from the data collected during the Dark Energy Survey’s science verification season prior to beginning official observations have been released to the public. Astronomer ...

  • Blue Waters simulates bacteria’s response to environment

    A new study led by research from University of Illinois physics professor Klaus Schulten offers atomic-level details of the molecular machinery that allows swimming bacteria to sense their environment and chang ...

    2015
  • NCSA plays key part in Midwest Big Data Hub

    To accelerate advancements in the rapidly emerging field of big data analysis, the National Science Foundation has given $5 million to establish four regional Big Data Hubs. The University of Illinois at Urbana ...

  • NCSA Director Ed Seidel speaks to House subcommittee

    Director Seidel speaks to House subcommittee

    Congressman Darin LaHood (IL-18) welcomed Dr. Edward Seidel to Capitol Hill to testify on a review of the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) Program. Serving as a witness to ...

  • “Solar Superstorms” documentary released

    A 24-minute, high-resolution science documentary about the dynamics of the Sun that features data-driven visualizations produced by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University o ...

  • U.S. Senator Mark Kirk

    U.S. Senator Kirk celebrates Blue Waters

    U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) convened a celebration in honor of the second birthday of NCSA’s Blue Waters supercomputer, which is used by scientists and engineers across the country to tackle challenging re ...

  • NCSA receives $2m for global collaboration

    The National Science Foundation has awarded a grant of $2 million over five years to the NCSA to bring together members of the international research community, including graduate students, post-docs, and early ...

    2014
  • NCSA creates National Data Service

    Creating an infrastructure supporting data from across all disciplines of science, engineering, and humanities so that researchers can easily find, reuse, and publish data in a world where researchers generate ...

  • NCSA Director Ed Seidel

    Seidel becomes NCSA director

    On January 15, H. Edward Seidel, the senior vice president of research and innovation at the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology in Moscow, has been named the director of the National Center for Superc ...

  • Brown Dog software gets $10.5m in funding

    NCSA’s Image and Spatial Data Analysis division, partnering with faculty at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Boston University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will dev ...

    2013
  • App brings campus icon home for commencement, virtually

    Commencement is a time rich in both tradition and anticipation for the future. Although a vital icon of tradition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Alma Mater sculpture, is absent in body, ...

  • Blue Waters opens for science

    The Blue Waters supercomputer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign entered production, meaning the behemoth capable of performing quadrillions of calculations every second and working with quadrill ...

  • Center for Trustworthy Scientific Cyberinfrastructure formed

    NCSA’s cybersecurity group is collaborating with Indiana University to form the Center for Trustworthy Scientific Cyberinfrastructure (CTSC) using a newly funded three-year, $4.297 million grant from the ...

    2012
  • NCSA contributes visualizations for “Dynamic Earth”

    A team at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications created data-driven scientific visualizations of Hurricane Katrina and the harsh terrain of Venus for “Dynamic Earth,” a new immersive d ...

  • XSEDE created

    The National Science Foundation funded a partnership of 17 institutions to create the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) project for five years, at $121 million. XSEDE will be the mos ...

    2011
  • iForge cluster debuts

    NCSA deployed a 22-teraflop high-performance computing cluster, dubbed iForge, dedicated exclusively to the center’s Private Sector Partners, such as Rolls-Royce, Boeing, and Caterpillar. “iForge is ...

  • EcoG GPU cluster

    Student-built cluster No. 3 on Green500

    With guidance from ECE professor Wen-mei Hwu, CS professor Bill Gropp, and cluster experts at NCSA, students got hands-on experience building their own supercomputer with NVIDIA graphics-processing units. When ...

    2010
  • NPCF Open House welcomes 1,000

    More than 1,000 people visited the University of Illinois’ National Petascale Computing Facility, touring the state-of-the-art building and learning more about the supercomputers it will house. The buildi ...

  • “Hubble 3D” includes NCSA visualizations

    “Hubble 3D” takes viewers through distant galaxies as it tells the story of the repair and upgrade of the Hubble telescope. While most of the film is shot with IMAX 3D cameras, including live-action ...

  • CILogon project launches

    Von Welch, Randy Butler, and Jim Basney of NCSA’s Cybersecurity Directorate receive a three year $1,750,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to integrate, deploy, and support an open-source, sta ...

    2009
  • CaSToRC formed

    The Cyprus Institute and NCSA establishes the Computation-based Science and Technology Research Center (CaSToRC) at the Cyprus Institute. The center provides high-performance computing resources to researchers ...

  • NCSA gets funding for Dark Energy Survey

    NCSA) and the Department of Astronomy at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have received more than $2.5 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support development of a data processin ...

    2008
  • NCSA installs Lincoln cluster

    Installation began on a new computational resource at NCSA at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Lincoln will deliver peak performance of 47.5 teraflops and is designed to push the envelope in the ...

  • NSF funds Blue Waters project

    Extending more than 50 years of supercomputing leadership, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and its National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) announced to build the world’s firs ...

  • NCSA adds two new supercomputers

    NCSA will give a powerful boost to researchers in academia and industry with the addition of two new supercomputing clusters. The two systems, Abe and T3, will provide 110 teraflops (trillions of calculations p ...

    2007
  • NCSA creates Institute for Chemistry Literacy and Computational Science

    The National Science Foundation has awarded a $5 million grant to a five-year project designed to improve chemistry education in rural schools throughout Illinois. Partnering on the project are NCSA, the Colleg ...

    2006
  • NCSA researcher simulates entire life form

    It’s a simple little virus—so simple that biologists often refer to it as a “particle” rather than organism, so small and primitive that it can only proliferate in a cell that’s al ...

  • NCSA dedicates new building

    For the first time, NCSA has a home to call its own on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. On Jan. 25, NCSA held an official dedication for its new 142,000-square-foot building at 1205 ...

  • ICHASS created

    The Center for Computing in Humanities, Arts, and Social Science (CHASS), a joint effort of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and NCSA, will foster innovation by engaging humanists, artists, and so ...

    2005
  • CLEANER gets funding

    NCSA received a grant of $2 million to lead a two-year intensive effort to develop a roadmap for CLEANER, the Collaborative Large-scale Engineering Analysis Network for Environmental Research. The goal of CLEAN ...

  • NCSA installs Cobalt

    NCSA added 6.5 teraflops of computing power to its machine room with the installation of a Silicon Graphics shared-memory, symmetric multi-processor (SMP) computing system, visualization capability, and storage ...

  • NCSA Director Thom Dunning

    Dunning becomes NCSA director

    “As an accomplished, respected discipline scientist, Thom Dunning has developed research and leadership skills that are well-suited to achieving NCSA’s mission of enabling scientific discovery,̶ ...

  • NEESgrid comes online

    There are numerous communities out there clamoring for concentrated support as they build cyberinfrastructure for their practitioners, but someone has to lead the way. In 2001, the National Science Foundation s ...

    2004
  • NCSA and SDSC partner on NLADR

    In a world where the software, the hardware, and the networks are complicated enough, there needs to be a special focus on issues relating to data and how to get the most out of that data on the burgeoning cybe ...

  • NOVA’s ‘Hunt for the Supertwister’ airs

    The PBS TV series ‘NOVA’ focused on the search for understanding nature’s most violent tornadoes, from daredevil storm chasing in tornado alley to simulating severe weather with the computatio ...

  • TeraGrid comes online

    The first computing systems of the National Science Foundation’s TeraGrid project are in production mode, making 4.5 teraflops of distributed computing power available to scientists across the country who ...

  • Donna Cox

    Donna Cox gives SC2003 keynote

    Donna Cox—an acclaimed artist and a senior research scientist at NCSA—presented her keynote speech, “Beyond Computing: The Search for Creativity,” at SC2003, the international conference ...

    2003
  • Tungsten cluster comes online

    Tungsten, a cluster with more than 1,450 dual-processor Dell PowerEdge 1750 servers running Red Hat Linux, a Myrinet 2000 high-speed interconnect fabric, and an I/O subcluster with more than 120 terabytes of Da ...

  • Ground breaks for NCSA building

    Illinois officials broke ground for a $30 million, 142,000-square-foot building for NCSA staff and researchers. The center has grown steadily, and the approximately 400 people employed by NCSA are housed in sev ...

  • NCSA leads ONR’s secure systems research center

    A new national cybersecurity research center, funded by the Office of Naval Research and led by NCSA, started up in 2003. The National Center for Advanced Secure Systems Research (NCASSR) was launched with an i ...

  • NCSA's Craig Steffen with the Sony PlayStation2 cluster.

    NCSA creates Sony PlayStation2 cluster

    When Sony released its PlayStation2 (PS2) game console in 2000, demand far outstripped supply, with eager gamers and desperate parents bidding up to $1,000 on eBay for scarce units. When Sony later released the ...

  • Dan Reed named to Presidential IT Advisory Committee

    Daniel A. Reed, director of NCSA, is among the 25 information technology experts President George W. Bush appointed as members of the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC). The mem ...

  • NCSA adds Copper cluster

    NCSA’s IBM POWER4 p690 supercomputer, capable of performing two trillion operations per second, becomes available to the general scientific research community. The POWER4 p690 consists of 384 1.3 GHz proc ...

  • First users move onto TeraGrid

    The TeraGrid—the nation’s most powerful unclassified computers, scientific applications and visualization environments, datastores and toolkits for grid computing linked by the world’s fastest ...

  • TeraGrid gets bigger

    The National Science Foundation’s $35 million Extensible Terascale Facility (ETF) award expands the TeraGrid to five sites: NCSA; the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at the University of California, ...

    2002
  • Titan cluster comes online

    The cluster, named Titan, was the world’s largest Itanium cluster, consisting of 160 dual-processor IBM IntelliStation machines. Titan had a peak performance of 1 trillion calculations per second (1 teraf ...

  • Advanced Computation Building gets bigger

    On Wednesday, Sept. 5, more than 500 people came to ACB on the U of I campus to officially open the two-story, 18,029-square-foot addition to the building, dedicate NCSA’s first Itanium-based Linux cluste ...

    2001
  • NSF creates TeraGrid

    The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded $53 million to four U.S. research institutions to build and deploy a distributed terascale facility (DTF). The DTF will be the largest, most comprehensive infra ...

  • NCSA tests out Itanium™

    Rob Pennington, NCSA’s then-Chief Technical Officer, always says that he and his team want to be involved with new architectures and computing technologies when vendors “have nothing to show us but ...

    2000
  • Dan Reed becomes director

    “The transition really began on the first business day of 2000. Larry Smarr walked into my office, closed the door, and said ‘We need to talk.’ At that point, I knew my life was about to chang ...

  • nug30 solved on Grid

    In what one researcher called one of “the largest Grid computing successes for the Alliance” to date, researchers at National Computational Science Alliance partners University of Iowa and Argonne N ...

  • NCSA hits one million CPU hours in a month

    August 1999 marked the first time usage of a National Science Foundation high-performance computer topped one million normalized CPU hours in one month. According to figures from Quantum Research, which measure ...

    1999
  • Faculty Fellows Program created

    Since NCSA launched its fellowship program in 1999, more than 100 University of Illinois researchers have benefited from close collaboration with the center’s expert staff and access to high-performance compu ...

  • Newsweek features NCSA

    At the height of the tech surge that marked the late 19902, Newsweek asked: “Can any place ever hope to match the awesome success of Silicon Valley?” It then proceeded to answer its own question by ...

    1998
  • NT supercluster debuts

    In 1998, Andrew Chien, then a professor in the University of Illinois Department of Computer Science and a member of the Alliance Parallel Computing Team, and his research group worked with staff from NCSA to c ...

  • President Clinton mentions NCSA

    On the morning after delivering a State of the Union message that emphasized the importance of education, President Clinton spoke to a packed house at the University of Illinois Assembly Hall on the Urbana-Cham ...

  • NSF supports DAST

    NCSA received a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to provide a distributed application support center for users developing new capabilities using NSF’s very high performance Back ...

  • NCSA helps track Hale-Bopp

    Thanks to a system from NCSA for rapidly processing radio wavelength images from the BIMA Array radio telescope, astronomers tracing the path of Comet Hale-Bopp proclaimed their 1997 observations of the comet a ...

    1997
  • National Computational Science Alliance created

    The National Science Foundation’s Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure initiative funded two massive programs, one led by NCSA and the other by the San Diego Supercomputer Center. Their ...

  • Smarr appointed to White House committee

    Larry Smarr, then-NCSA director and a pioneer in the movement to dramatically increase the number of academic and industrial researchers using supercomputers, was appointed as a member of the White House Adviso ...

  • SGI/Cray Origin2000 comes online

    NCSA’s SGI/Cray Origin2000, the largest Origin server and the first 128-processor system, was delivered by Silicon Graphics in October 1996. The 128 processors initially were doubled to 256 processors bef ...

  • Michael Norman

    Norman team wins HPC Challenge at SC95

    NCSA not only sponsored the High-Performance Computing Challenge at SC95, the annual supercomputing conference, a team led by those from the center won it in the “Best Integration of Heterogeneous Applica ...

    1995
  • NCSA transitions to microprocessor-based hardware

    By the end of 1994 NCSA removed its traditional vector machines—the Cray Y-MP and CONVEX C3880—leaving machines based solely on microprocessor hardware. The center utilized microprocessor-based syst ...

    1994
  • NASA selects HDF for EOS program

    The idea was as simple as it was obvious: NASA wanted a single file format for the data that would stream in from the variety of instruments that would be part of the agency’s Earth Observing Satellite pr ...

  • Electronic Mosaic article submission in Science

    There were in fact days when even technical powerhouses like the American Association for the Advancement of Science did things the old-fashioned way. Typed or word processed manuscripts shuttled among publishe ...

  • GEMS program for middle-school girls begins

    The first middle-school girls to participate in the program are in their 30s now, which demonstrates the longevity and popularity of Girls Engaged in Math and Science (GEMS). GEMS (originally called Engaging Yo ...

  • engine combustion simulation

    Assanis models combustion in car engines

    It’s a common quandary for automobile manufacturers: Clean air laws require reductions in pollutants and increases in fuel efficiency, while market pressures push for new designs on faster timelines. Denn ...

    1993
  • NCSA Mosaic

    NCSA Mosaic is released

    People had created Web browsers before. In fact Tim Berners-Lee, who first conceived of the World Wide Web while working at CERN, built a rudimentary one himself in 1990. Prior to anyone at NCSA putting down a ...

  • Wai-mo Suen/Ed Seidel gravitational wave simulation

    Colliding black holes

    As funding and construction of the National Science Foundation’s Laser Interferometric Gravitational Wave Observatories got under way, NCSA researchers were already hard at work, defining the gravitationa ...

    1992
  • NCSA’s CM-5 installed

    A radical Thinking Machines Corporation (TMC) redesign, the CM-5 employed off-the-shelf SPARC processors with four 64-bit vector units added on. It was the first large scale “massively parallel” com ...

  • CONVEX C3880 enters production

    NCSA users solved more complex problems with the arrival of a large-memory, eight-processor CONVEX C3880 supercomputer. Replacing the CONVEX C240, the CONVEX C3880 became the new center of NCSA’s Numerica ...

  • Eli Lilly develops asthma drug

    David Herron of Eli Lilly and Company harnessed high-performance computing to aid the fight against asthma from the moment the company joined NCSA’s Industrial Program, now the Private Sector Program, in ...

  • Sever Tipei

    Musical composition moves to the machine room

    Sever Tipei, a professor in the University of Illinois’ School of Music, saw a connection that, he said, had been lost on many people since the days of the Renaissance. He saw music and computation as sha ...

    1991
  • 3D volumetric rendering of mummy

    Mummies don’t make their way to Central Illinois that often; when one does, you hate to destroy it while unraveling its secrets. The University of Illinois’ World Heritage Museum received a donated ...

  • CONVEX C240 comes online

    The CONVEX C240 system—with 1 billion bytes of memory, and 50,000 calculations per second—came online in early 1991. The C240 formed the heart of NCSA’s Numerical Laboratory, a research and de ...

  • Cray Y-MP installed

    The 4-processor, 1.3 billion calculations per second Cray Y-MP arrived and was put into production late 1990, replacing the Cray X-MP. By the time it retired, over 6,200 researchers and their students performed ...

    1990
  • Smog simulation of the LA basin

    Team visualizes impact of smog

    The animations and visualizations that NCSA created in the late 1980s aided dozens of researchers. Their impact multiplied when, in 1990, the center built a top-flight digital post-production suite. The facilit ...

  • Yellowstone Park's forest fire history

    NCSA models Yellowstone fires

    Not all forest fires are bad. They play a vital role in the dynamics of forest evolution, transforming fallen plant material to essential nutrients that leach into the soil, opening the canopy so seedlings can ...

  • Connection Machines' CM-2

    NCSA installs first massively parallel supercomputer

    Though the center was begun with a straightforward mission to provide computing time to the nation’s scientists and engineers, innovative new systems have always been on the machine room floor, too. ̶ ...

    1989
  • Thunderstorm visualization debuts at SIGGRAPH

    Bob Wilhelmson, NCSA’s former Chief Science Officer, had no problem generating simulations that spawn tornadoes. In the late 1980s, however, a wicked thunderstorm that threatened to spawn a tornado was th ...

  • NCSA’s Cray-2 installed

    NCSA now has two Cray supercomputers to meet the rapidly increasing national demand for computational power in a wide range of fields. The Cray-2 system joins the Cray X-MP supercomputer to contribute advances ...

    1988
  • NCSA's Software Development Group

    NCSA releases HDF, Image, and DataScope

    Scientific computing can be a messy business. “We were constantly encountering problems of different computing platforms having different data formats,” said Mike Folk, who has been with NCSA since ...

  • John Kogut connected to the Cray X-MP supercomputer

    Kogut simulates quantum chromodynamics

    Around the halls of NCSA, he was affectionately referred to as “The Sponge.” University of Illinois physics professor John Kogut, who had been one of the co-principal investigators on the initial pr ...

    1987
  • NCSA Telnet

    Center releases NCSA Telnet

    The way researchers–and everyday people–use computational resources is often as important as the resources themselves. “NCSA had a workstation support group since well before I got here,” ...

  • NCSA Private Sector Program Wall St. Journal ad

    Industrial Program begins

    From the earliest days, NCSA’s leadership saw the power of working with industry-leading corporations. Close partnerships guaranteed that the technologies emerging from the center and the expertise that m ...

    1986
  • Larry Smarr with Cray X-MP

    NCSA opens to national user community

    NCSA opened its doors to the national scientific computing community in January 1986. Since then, the bottom line has always been helping researchers get their work done and propel science toward its next disco ...