SCENE March 1991

Table of Contents

NSCEE Beginnings

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas is home to the newly established National Supercomputing Center for Energy and the Environment. Housed in the Thomas T. Beam Engineering Complex, this center serves researchers in the state if Nevada and throughout the nation conducting computational studies of the interaction between the production of energy and the Earth's environment, as well as many other topics.

U.S. Senator Harry Reid was pivotal in writing the legislation for the State of Nevada to receive the supercomputer center. The center was established with $10,000,000 provided by Congressional legislation to fund a supercomputing resource to the State of Nevada for its independent studies associated with the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, and for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV)'s rapidly growing enrollment.

The university, with the assistance of Westinghouse Electric Corporation, established the center in July, 1990 for scientists and engineering researchers throughout Nevada and the United States. The NSCEE is offering researchers access to their new Cray Y-MP2/216 on the beautiful campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The computer systems in the center will be used to study engineering, socioeconomics, transportation, and many other scientific studies.

The Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering, headed by Dean William Wells, houses the 4,500 square foot center where the Cray Y-MP 2/216 lives with a Sun 4/490 front-end, and ten Sun Sparc 1+ color graphics workstation, all running the UNIX operating system. The Cray Y MP2/216 uses the UNIX-based UNICOS operating system. A CDC 910 Silicon Graphics workstation is available for high-speed visualization. High speed networks, including NSFNET, permit rapid data communication between the NSCEE and the four National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded supercomputing centers located across the United States. Communication to the center's computers through Ethernet, FDDI, dial-up modems and INTERNET allow worldwide access.

Limited Free Time Left

Until March 15, 1991, the NSCEE is offering FREE time to educational users on its 2 CPU, 16 million word, 6 nanosecond clock-cycle Cray Y-MP 2/216 SUPERCOMPUTER! For specific operations, the Cray Y-MP 2/216 is as much as 921 times faster than a DEC VAX 11/780! It's bigger than all but a few! Call user Services quickly to take advantage of this DEC VAX 11/780! It's bigger than all but a few! Call user Services quickly to take advantage of this offer!

Supercomputer Network Future

The Thomas T. Beam Engineering Complex was described as "beyond the state of the art" when it was completed in 1989. An additional 5,000 square feet of the complex may be allotted for the center's future expansion, as the staff adds more systems analysts, user services and computer operations personal.

Supercomputers are used to solve a wide array of technical problems ranging from particle physics to aeronautical engineering. These computers are designed for computationally complex problems that require speed and large amounts of memory. They are needed in engineering and scientific problems, for the development of new products, and for the national role of the competitive technology race with other world powers.

Cray Grants UNLV $200,000 in Research Grants through the NSCEE

UNLV faculty and researchers had until February 15, 1991 to submit their research proposals. These proposals will be peer-reviewed and may include requests for funding and graduate student support. Successful authors will be informed March 1, 1991. The solicitation for additional research proposals will begin in early Fall 1991 for the next phase of Cray grants. Contact the NSCEE at (702) 597-4153 for application forms and information.

The UNLV Campus

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas is committed to academic excellence in each of the of its more than 120 undergraduate and graduate programs. Following a decade of unprecedented growth in enrollment and facilities, UNLV, under the direction of President Robert C. Maxson, is continuing to focus its resources on academic programs, faculty and students.

Over 18,000 students attend classes on the 335-acre campus. The campus is graced with trees, lawns and desert foliage that have earned it a designation as a state arboretum of Nevada.

More than 600 full-time professors serve the university, bringing degrees and teaching experience from leading universities around the world. Faculty members are involved in important research for government and public service agencies, for scholarly books and journals, and for their own and their students' enlightenment and knowledge. Many have won major awards and fellowships for their work, including the sought-after Fulbright Fellowship.

All academic programs are fully accredited by the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges, and many programs have received further accreditation from independent national accrediting bodies. Officially established in 1957, UNLV has seen dramatic growth in its short history. The university has recently been described as a "rising star in American higher education" in the U.S. News and World Report's 1990 College Guide, which listed UNLV on its list of "up and coming" universities the last two years.

Peer-review Proposals for Cray Time Begin

Beginning on February 1, 1991, a solicitation for proposals for use of the Cray Y-MP will be extended to users. Users may request an allocation of time on the Cray for the next year for unfunded research through this program. Proposals will be peer-reviewed using a procedure similar to that employed by the National Science Foundation supercomputing centers. Please contact the NSCEE at (702) 597-4153 for the solicitation.

Samples of Ongoing Research

Researchers use the Cray Y/MP for a panoply of exciting studies that were once to complex to explore. These topics range from exploring the galaxies to exploring the Cray itself.

Evolving Galaxies

By Dr. Lon Spight, UNLV

In observational cosmology the basic units of structure for the universe are galaxies. These galaxies consist of highly organized collections of gas, dust and stars interacting gravitationally to produce a variety of morphological types. While the general principles governing their formation and evolution are thought to be known, the details and specific models for these processes are only very incompletely understood at the present time. A better understanding of the phenomena is one of the most central problems in cosmology and galactic astronomy. The time scale for such processes is on the order of several billion years, and this fact lies at the root of the difficulty in unraveling the details of the formation and evolution of galaxies and clusters of galaxies. Extra-galactic astronomy is primarily an observational science, not a directly experimental one. (The problem is somewhat analogous to that of trying to determine the evolution and life cycles of the various trees in a large forest, with only the information from a single photograph taken from an orbiting satellite.)

Analytical methods applied to simplified, idealized models of certain types of isolated galaxies have in recent years yielded suggestive leads to further investigation. However, the inherently complex nature of real galaxies and the fact that most galaxies are found in interactive systems severely compromises the identification of analytically predicted features in real systems. This makes evident the limited range in which the analytical approach to modeling the systems is useful and/ or valid; only the simplest systems can be treated analytically, and even in these cases only partially and approximately. It is at this point that the numerical methods made feasible by modern high-speed, high-capacity computers have begun to make significant progress in our more detailed understanding of galactic evolution, morphology and clustering.

Individual galaxies may contain from several tens to hundreds of billions of individual stars, as well as equal amounts of non-stellar mass in the forms of dust and gas. In principle, these complex systems can be modeled by combining unrestricted n-body, point-point gravitational interactions with mesh-code hydrodynamic calculations. Realistic considerations of computer time used and accuracy needed, however, necessarily restrict such simulations to a few tens, or at most a few hundreds of thousands of mass points and simplified hydrodynamic approaches. Typically, it is also necessary to use multiple multipole expansion approximation techniques, as well, in order to calculate the dynamics of the interactions in realistic computer times. Otherwise, one is forced to use too few mass points in the simulation to model the system adequately. When the model and program to be used have been determined and optimized, then the process of simulating the phenomena can begins.

Post Collision Development

80 steps

90 steps

100 steps

120 steps

Colliding Galaxies - The Cray Y-MP generated simulations show time sequences of the development of a target galaxy after colliding with an invading galaxy.

Lon Spight works with Alfred Schultz from the Hubble Space Telescope Institute in Maryland, who conducts the stellar observations to compare with the computer simulations.

Supercomputer Studies of Nuclear Waste Management

The NSCEE was funded through the federal government to assist the State of Nevada in its nuclear waste studies. The $10,000,000 that was allocated by Congress to establish the NSCEE came from a fund paid for by users of electricity generated by commercial nuclear power plants. The charge of $0.01 per kilowatt-hour for electricity has accumulated into a large fund dedicated to the management of spent nuclear reactor fuel. During the operation of commercial nuclear power plants, ceramic uranium fuel produces large amounts of highly radioactive isotopes, including cesium-137, stromtium-90, and plutonium-239. Eventually these isotopes radioactively decay to background levels. A national program is underway, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy to identify a long-term, underground repository for these wastes that will prevent the radionuclides from entering the environment for a period of 10,000 years. Such geologic repositories have been proposed in the salt domes of Texas and Louisiana, the volcanic tuff of Nevada, and in the granite formations of eastern Washington. Current plans call for the spent fuel rods from nuclear reactors around the country to be placed in specially designed nuclear waste packages before storage in the repository. The waste package must prevent water from reaching the spent fuel and leaching radionuclides into the surrounding environment. Since experimental studies of the candidate nuclear waste packages over their proposed life-time is not possible, the supercomputer will be used to conduct numerical studies of the fluid flow, heat transfer and radionuclide transport in and around the nuclear waste container.

To study this national problem, faculty and researchers in the University of Nevada System have been employing the NSCEE Cray in their studies. Several computer codes have been ported to the NSCEE from various national laboratories including DYNA3D, a finite element code, and TOUGH, a thermofluid mechanics code. Drs. Ladkany and Trabia are using DYNA3D to compute the stress distribution in prospective high-level nuclear spent fuel containers during loading, handling, and storing over the 10,000 year lifetime of the geological repository. Dr. Skaggs is developing techniques to model the corrosion of the containers and Drs. Cardle, Culbreth, and Moujaes are involved in the heat transfer and fluid flow in the near field of the waste package. An important aspect of these studies involves the rewetting of the waste package surface as the spent fuel cools. The condensation of water on the surface of the waste package can lead to corrosion and leaching of the radionuclides into the surrounding rock of the repository and into the water table. The simulations on the Cray supercomputer will help researchers design waste packages that will prevent the release of dangerous radioactive material into the earth's environment and ensure the public safety.

New NSCEE Personnel

Gail Whitten is the new NSCEE consultant for the center's User Services. Gail brings with her experience from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, where she worked in their User Systems Division helping users with the lab's complex computing environment. She now works for Westinghouse Electric Corporation, helping user's at UNLV's supercomputer center.

Michael Ekedahl is the new systems software analyst for the NSCEE. Michael brings with him UNIX experience from the center's home, UNLV, where he worked for the independent University of Nevada System Computing Services (UNSCS). He too works for Westinghouse to help create a friendly environment for the NSCEE users.

User Services

Both Gail and Michael work with Westinghouse to help provide the NSCEE with the quality services for the center's users. This includes helping users move their existing Fortran and C codes to the supercomputing environment, showing users how to get onto the system, helping them with problems they may encounter while on the Cray Y-MP or the SUN workstations, writing introductory documents, and teaching introductory classes. Through User Services, clients can spend more time with their research and less time dealing with the differences between services offered by the NSCEE, and those of their own center's computing environment.

User Services are available from 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. PST, Monday through Friday for questions or problems or for walk-in consultations in rooms A308 and A 309 on the third floor of the Thomas T. Beam Engineering Complex at UNLV.


The first class User Services will offer is "Using the NSCEE Computers." This will be presented on March 19, from 10:00-11:30 a.m. and March 20, from 10:00-11:30 a.m. on the third floor of the Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering in room A307. Contact User Services to enroll.

Cray Research, Inc. Hardware and Software Support

Keeping the system up and well tuned are the Cray Research, Inc. system analysts and engineers:

Karl Gordon, Gary Amundson, and Sam West. Sam West also teaches two UNLV courses for students. The courses offered were Fortran Optimization and Cray Assembly Language. Contact the UNLV Department of Computer Science for additional course offerings.

Cray Y-MP Preventive Maintenance

Preventative maintenance for the Y-MP is 5:00-8:00 a.m. on Wednesdays. This schedule is subject to change.

Implicit Parallelism

Angelo Yfantis, A UNLV computer science professor, is involved with his students in research of a concept called implicit parallelism, which is an algorithm to interrogate the machine to determine its capability for parallel processing within the program, and decide how many processors are available. Then the program is divided into as many independent groups as the number of processors, and then the processors work on each group separately and simultaneously. Researchers in this area at UNLV are Dr. E. A. Yfantis and his students J. Lombardo, E. Jorgenson, R. Maichle, R. Young, and S. West.

An application of the implicit parallelism is the computer generation of mountains with parallel algorithms in computer graphics; these have been devised by E.A. Yfantis, D. Frazer, A. Bagdanof, and Brad Fife.

Examples of computer-generated mountains are shown in this panel. The bottom figure shows a three-dimensional wire mesh model of a mountain generated using fractals. The top figure shows a similar mountain with its surfaces shown, shading applied, and snow added to texture the surface.

Fractal images like these are used in the development of realistic flight simulation for the training of pilots and in the development of artificial reality for advertising and the motion picture industry.

Accessing the Computer Resources at the NSCEE

To provide a uniform user interface, all workstations in the NSCEE support the UNIX operating system. Users may gain access to these machines by:

Using Local NSCEE Workstations at UNLV

Six SUN Sparcstations 1+ workstations are located in room A307, on the third floor of the Thomas T. Beam Engineering Complex on the north side of campus. Each workstation has a user's guide to help with the windowing commands, and a set of Cray manuals is also available in A307 documenting the operating system, compilers, and application software. These workstations and manuals are available 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday. The IMAGEN laser printer is also located in A307. For additional hours, call user Services at (702) 895-4151 or 4150.

Connecting Through the INTERNET

The NSCEE computers are connected to the nationwide INTERNET. A T1 connection to the San Diego Supercomputer Center provides nationwide communication with computers at major universities at 1.54 million bits/second. The NSCEE computers may be accessed through any machine or terminal-server connected to the INTERNET. To access the NSCEE, key:

telnet (IP address) or telnet (host and domain name)


rlogin (IP address) or rlogin (host and domain name)

Terminate the session by ^D (Control D) and logoff with "exit."

Connecting Through Modems

The center supports 16 dial-up lines with 1200/2400 band modems and a singles 9600 band modem. Users with personal computers, modems and KERMIT or similar communications software set to NO parity, 8 bits, 1 stop bit, may access the center's computers by dialing : ATD597-4154 or ATD5997-4155. Once you are connected and receive the prompt "nscee1>," then use "rlogin" to connect to the desired computer listed above, (e.g. "rlogin" for the SUN Sparc 1+ computer called "elko").

One Way To Transfer Your Files

Once you are logged onto the selected computer, key:


Michael V. Ekedahl, Systems Software Analyst

Version 5.0.1 of the Geographical Information system from the Environmental Systems Research Institute is now available for testing in the SUN computers at NSCEE. Five Sparcstations in room A307 are configured to perform as ARC/INFO display stations. A Calcomp 23480 drawing table for digitizing maps is also available next door in room A308. ARC/INFO sessions should be initiated from the Sunview window manager. The current version or this software will not function with X11 and OpenWindows. NSCEE is attempting to aquire a beta test release of ARC/INFO capable of running with X11.

To report problems or make configuration suggestions, please send mail to:

Available Software at NSCEE

The NSCEE provides its customers with an industry standard UNIX SparcStation 1+ environment, the CFT77 Fortran compiler, the C compiler, and most all libraries included with the UNIX-based UNICOS operating system. The Sun Sparc+ workstation and SUN 4/490 file server use X-Windows, also UNIX-based, and the powerful ARC/INFO graphics package is also available. A Silicon Graphics 4D workstation in TBE A307 also provides graphics support. Users needing other specific software should contact User Services for its possible availability.

Cray Applications Libraries

(Described in the Directory of Applications Software for Cray Research Supercomputers)

User Services keeps a copy of this directory as a reference in room A308 if users are interested in finding out about these routines. This is public domain software and is made available for users' convenience and is not fully supported by Cray Research people. For further information on documentation, call User Services at (702) 597-4151.

Cray Y-MP Software Available

Fully supported software for the Cray Y-MP.

Cray Math Libraries

Miscellaneous MIT Software (GNU)

For Additional Information

For users with INTERNET access, additional information can be obtained by anonymous FTP. Key the following:


and respond to the prompt for a login name with "anonymous" and the password is "guest." Consult README file for updates and information.

To Become a User

Contact the receptionist for the application form and availability. The NSCEE does allow commercial use of the center's computers. Contact the Director's Office for information on rate structure and software licensing policies.

To Subscribe

To subscribe to, or make comments about SCENE, the NSCEE's bimonthly newsletter, call User Services or send an email to

Work performed under the auspices of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and Westinghouse Electric Corporation under contract.

@Copyright 1991, University of Nevada System, Board of Regents. All Rights Reserved.

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas and Westinghouse Electric Corporation are Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action Institutions.


This document was prepared as an account of work sponsored by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and Westinghouse Electric Corporation. Neither Westinghouse nor the University of Nevada, Las Vegas nor any of their employees, makes any warranty, expressed or implied, or assumes and legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product or process disclosed or represents that its use would not infringe privately owned rights. Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the University of Nevada or Westinghouse. The views and opinions of authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the University of Nevada or Westinghouse, and shall not be used for advertising or product endorsement purposes.

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