Monday 24 October 2011

My SC11 diary 3

Well, shock, today so far has not been dominated by SC11! "Normal" work (and admin) has been the focus so far today. It is easy at this time of year to scan the headlines in the main HPC news outlets such as HPC Wire, InsideHPC, twitter (!), ... and assume SC is the only thing the HPC world is thinking of right now. The same is true of article preparation emails circulating for specialist publications like The Exascale Report. And it is even true to some extent for publications with a broader remit - e.g. Scientific Computing.

It is true, SC does dominate the thinking of many in the world of high performance computing at this time of year. And rightly so in many contexts. As I have already noted, it is a very focused week of meetings with existing and potential partners.

The HPC press will become swamped by SC11 related content - in fact many will switch to SC "special editions" for the duration of the event itself. Anyone thinking of press releases or other news disseminations must take this into account - release the story now and be forgotten by the time people come together to discuss at SC11 itself - or release during SC11 week and risk being lost among the SC11 week's deluge of supercomputing news releases?

It shows up in other conversations too - quite often over the last month or two meetings conclude with "we can catch up on that at SC in Seattle ...".

But it is wise to not forget the many people using, supplying or supporting HPC products and solutions that won't be attending SC - in many cases because they are not even aware of SC11 and what it offers. There are a lot of researchers, engineers, and organizations using computing technology to deliver performance and capability advantages to their research/business who do not self-identify what they do as "HPC". (I borrow this insight from Addison Snell of Intersect360.)

In addition, there are many users of technical computing who could greatly benefit from adopting HPC technologies or solutions but do not use HPC at all - often because they have not yet been engaged by the HPC community (e.g. SC11). These are a core part of the "missing middle" (or similar terms) talked about by many in the world of high performance computing recently - notably Intel, the Alliance for High Performance Digital Manufacturing, and others. (Even NAG - some of our HPC services are designed to train, advise and support organisations that are new to HPC.)

So, inevitably, SC11 does not represent the whole world of high performance computing, but it does a very good job of  gathering together as much of the supercomputing ecosystem as possible. And thus it is worthy of being the default context for so many HPC conversations and supercomputing news stories in the next few weeks.

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