The LBNL/NERSC VisPortal effort explores ways to deliver Grid-based advanced visualization and data analysis capabilities through a Web Portal interface. The portal paradigm offers a means to deliver customized visualization and data management services to users of the computing and visualization resources of the NERSC center (Seaborg, HPSS, PDSF, escher). From a single access point the user can browse through the data, do file management and launch all components of a distributed application, automating complex workflows and hiding the complexity of the grid infrastructure.

Example services:

  1. AMRVolume Renderering
    The amr volume rendering application takes advantage of graphics hardware to accelerate the offscreen volume rendering of hierarchical adaptive meshes. The client component of this aplication runs in the user's workstation and the back-end can make use of the offscreen hardware rendering using SGI Onyx IR2 pipes or a parallel software implementation that can run in a cluster environment. The portal's primary role is to select an appropriate resource and the parameters to launch the back-end and to launch the client in the user's workstation, automating a process that would otherwise require launching each piece independently with the appropriate parameters in different machines.
  2. MPEG generation using IDL
    the user needs to run an IDL script to produce a movie with data from simulations that run in Seaborg. The portal provides an interface to select the data file and to select the mpeg parameters. It transfers the file to a machine that has IDL licenses available, launches the IDL job and sends an email to the user with a URL to retrieve the movie.

The exercise of creating a working implementation with a controlled set of (NERSC) users is critically important for identifying the deficiencies of the current technology and for driving the direction of future middleware development. This experience will prove very useful in the development and deployment of production grid portals.