Thursday, 24 March 2011

Poll: exascale, personal or industrial?

I've added a new quick survey to the HPC Notes blog: "Which is more interesting - exascale computing, personal supercomputing or industry use of HPC?"

See top right of the blog home page. You can even give different answers for "reading about" and "working on"...

Investments Today for Effective Exascale Tomorrow

I contributed to this article in the March 2011 The Exascale Report by Mike Bernhardt.

"Initiatives are being launched, research centers are being established, teams are being formed, but in reality, we are barely getting started with exascale research. Opinions vary as to where we should be focusing our resources.

In this issue, The Exascale Report asks NAG's Andy Jones, Lawrence Livermore's Dona Crawford, and Growth Science International's Thomas Thurston where should we (as a global community) be placing our efforts today with exascale research and development?"

Friday, 18 March 2011

Performance and Results

[Originally posted on The NAG Blog]

What's in a catch phrase?

As you will hopefully know, NAG's strapline is "Results Matter. Trust NAG".

What matters to you, our customers, is results. Correct results that you can rely on. Our strapline invites you to trust NAG - our people and our software products - to deliver that for you.

When I joined NAG to help develop the High Performance Computing (HPC) services and consulting business, one of the early discussions raised the possibility of using a new version of this strapline for our HPC business, reflecting the performance emphasis of the increased HPC activity. Probably the best suggestion was "Performance Matters. Trust NAG." Close second was "Productivity Matters. Trust NAG."

Thursday, 17 March 2011

The Addictive Allure of Supercomputing

The European Medical Device Technology (EMDT) magazine interviewed me recently. InsideHPC also has pointed to the interview here.

The interview discusses false hopes of users: "Computers will always get faster – I just have to wait for the next processor and my application will run faster."

We still see this so often - managers, researchers, programmers even - all waiting for the silver bullet that will make multicore processors run their application faster with no extra effort from them. There is nothing now or coming soon that will do that excpet for a few special cases. Getting performance from multicore processors means evolving your code for parallel processing. Tools and parallelized library plugins can help - but in many cases they won't be a substitute for re-writing key parts of the code using multithreading or similar techniques.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Meeting HPC people

About a year ago, I wrote this article for ZDNet UK, describing what I thought were some of the key events in the supercomputing/HPC community.

I said: "Many people have rightly remarked that the HPC community really is that — a community — and that there is still a relatively high degree of connection between the various practitioners. In other words, despite its growing size and global reach, it feels like a small community. People know each other. Consequently, networking, whether technical or commercial, goes a long way to helping your business."

And: "Whatever your scale of technical computing, from multicore workstations to multi-thousand-node supercomputers, getting involved with the active HPC community can help you with your parallel computing goals. Online resources can help, but by far the most effective way of benefiting from the wider HPC community is by participating at the right events."

I listed some key events, with a comment about the nature and value of each.

I have now added a survey to this website (top right) to find out which events people plan to attend in 2011.

I may have missed out your favourite conference in the original article, or in the survey above, in which case I would like to hear about it too - maybe via the comments page here, or directly.

I hope to meet soome of you when out and about in the coming year ...

NAG out and about

[Originally posted on The NAG Blog]

The NAG website has a section called "Meet our experts - NAG out and about", which gives a list of upcoming events worldwide that NAG experts will be attending or presenting at.

The page also notes: "We regularly organise and participate in conferences, seminars and
training days with our customers and partners. If you would like to talk
to us
about hosting a NAG seminar at your organisation or any training
requirements you might have email us at

In my own focus of high performance computing (HPC), I have previously written (for ZDNet UK) about some key supercomputing events. For those of you interested in meeting up with HPC experts (especially from NAG!), I have set up a survey of HPC events - please let us know which events you plan to attend in 2011 - and see which events other readers of The NAG Blog are attending.