Friday 15 June 2012

Supercomputers are for dreams

I was invited to the 2012 NCSA Annual Private Sector Program (PSP) meeting in May. In my few years of attending, this has always been a great meeting (attendance by invitation only), with an unusually high concentration of real HPC users and managers from industry.

NCSA have recently released streaming video recordings of the main sessions - the videos can be found  as links on the Annual PSP Meeting agenda page.

Bill Gropp chaired a panel session on "Modern Software Implementation" with myself and Gerry Labedz as panellists.

The full video (~1 hour) is here but I have also prepared a breakdown of the panel discussion in this blog post below.

Bill's Panel Overview and Introduction

The core premise of Bill's panel theme was that supercomputing is "not just about the solver" - imagine we had a perfect solver - what else must we address? Bill intro takes the first ~8 minutes of the session.

Gerry's Introduction and Comments

Gerry then talks from 08:51 to 24:18, giving an introduction and overview of this thoughts on the topic. These are worth listening to, as Gerry makes some outstanding points.

Andrew's Introduction and Comments

I then speak from 24:18 to 32:34, giving an introduction and overview of my thoughts on the panel theme. I think these are worth listening to also :-)

Questions and Debate

Then follows approximately half an hour of questions and debate including:
  • waiting for silver bullets [32:35]
  • leaking vs. communicating, including HECToR Distributed CSE Support [37:23]
  • creativity styles in engineering - evolutions vs revolution [39:34]
  • tools for supercomputing - help the heroes or the masses? [45:41]
  • supercomputing as a possible leader of computer science [48:41]
  • modern programming languages (what is wrong with Fortran?) [51:28]

The panel discussion raises some good points, has a few moments of humour (e.g. running away when Fortran is mentioned), and generates some excellent quotes on supercomputing, including Gerry's brilliant encapsulation of one of the main concepts I was trying to get across: "supercomputers are for dreams" [43:13], plus Gerry's "only the heroes survive" [42:51].

Enjoy watching the panel video. Let me know what you think - via the comments page on this blog, on twitter (@hpcnotes), or in person (e.g. at ISC12 in Hamburg next week). Oh, and enjoy the other videos too - there are many more gems from this top quality event.

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