Saturday, 26 November 2016

Secrets, lies, women and money: the definitive summary of SC16 - Part 1

Just over a week ago 11,000 people were making their way home from the biggest supercomputing event of the year – SC16 in Salt Lake City. With so much going on at SC, even those who were there in person likely still missed a huge proportion of what happened. It’s simply too busy to keep up with all the news during the week, too many events/talks/meetings happening in parallel, and much of the interesting stuff only gets talked about behind closed doors or through informal networking.

There were even a couple of top-notch tutorials on HPC acquisition and TCO/funding models :-)

Amongst this productive chaos, I was flattered to be told several times at during SC that people find my blogs worth reading and commented they hadn’t seen any recently. I guess the subtext was “it’s about time I wrote some more”. So, I’ll make an effort to blog more often again. Starting with my thoughts on SC16 itself.

As ever, while I do soften the occasional punch in my writing (not usually in person though), there remains the possibility that some readers won’t like some of my opinions, and there’s always the risk of me straying into controversy in places.

I've got four topics to cover: secrets, lies, women and money.


It came out in several conversations during the week. “What has been your highlight so far?” “What’s the most grabbing announcement you’ve heard this week?” “What’s the big story of the show?”.

Sadly, my answer was mostly “meh – nothing really”. Many people I spoke to agreed, SC16 was lacking in “big” news. There was lots of “news” but there wasn’t much beyond business as usual, evolutionary announcements, or re-announcing of products that had already been talked about for a long time, etc. There were some desperate attempts by marketing departments to say otherwise (see “Lies” below) but overall SC16 was a calm news week. (My media friends have probably just hit the screen at the word “calm” – I hear they get a bit flooded in the run up to each SC/ISC.)

However, away from the public news, in the off-the-record chats that happen as friends bump into each other when moving around the SC16 campus, and in the many networking receptions, and in private meetings held under NDA, there was plenty of news. Re-read the previous sentence to see why I’m not going to reveal most of these snippets. But I will hint at some.