Seminars and Events

Scientific Computing at Large

Chameleon: An Innovation Platform for Computer Science Research and Education

Event Details


Meeting hosts only admit guests that they know to the Zoom meeting. Hence, you’re highly encouraged to use your USC account to sign into Zoom.

Abstract: We live in interesting times: new ideas and technological opportunities emerge at ever increasing rate in disaggregated hardware, programmable networks, and the edge computing and IoT space to name just a few. These innovations require an instrument where they can be deployed and investigated, and where new solutions that those disruptive ideas require can be developed, tested, and shared. To support a breadth of Computer Science experiments  such instrument has to provide access to a diversity of hardware configurations, support deployment at scale, as well as deep reconfigrability so that a wide range of experiments can be supported. It also has to provide mechanisms for easy and direct sharing of repeatable digital artifacts so that new experiments and results can be easily replicated and help enable further innovation. Most importantly — since science does not stand still – such instrument requires the capability for constant adaptation to support an ever increasing range of experiments driven by emergent ideas and opportunities.

The NSF-funded Chameleon testbed ( has been developed to provide all those capabilities.  It provides access to a variety of hardware including cutting-edge architectures, a range of accelerators, storage hierarchies with a mix of large RAM, NVDIMMs, a variety of enterprise and consumer grade SDDs, HDDs, high-bandwidth I/0 storage, SDN-enabled networking hardware, and fast interconnects. This diversity was enlarged recently to add support for edge computing/IoT devices and will be further extended this year to include LiQid composable hardware as well as P4 switches. Chameleon is distributed over two core sites at the University of Chicago and the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) connected by 100 Gbps network – as well as three volunteer sites at NCAR, Northwestern University, and the University of Illinois in Chicago (UIC). Bare metal reconfigurability for Computer Science experiments is provided by CHameleon Infrastructure (CHI), based on an enhanced bare-metal flavor of OpenStack: it allows users to reconfigure resources at bare metal level, boot from custom kernel, and have root privileges on the machines. To date, the testbed has supported 6,000+ users and 800+ projects in research, education, and emergent applications.

The recording for this seminar talk will be posted on our USC/ISI YouTube page within 1-2 business days:

Speaker Bio

Kate Keahey is one of the pioneers of infrastructure cloud computing. She created the Nimbus project, recognized as the first open source Infrastructure-as-a-Service implementation, and continues to work on research aligning cloud computing concepts with the needs of scientific datacenters and applications. To facilitate such research for the community at large, Kate leads the Chameleon project, providing a deeply reconfigurable, large-scale, and open experimental platform for Computer Science research. To foster the recognition of contributions to science made by software projects, Kate co-founded and serves as co-Editor-in-Chief of the SoftwareX journal, a new format designed to publish software contributions. Kate is a Scientist at Argonne National Laboratory and a Senior Fellow at the Computation Institute at the University of Chicago.