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HIGH-PERFORMANCE COMPUTING


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University of Southampton gains powerful supercomputer The most powerful university- based supercomputer in England, and the third largest academic supercomputing facility in the UK, has been deployed at the University of Southampton.


Data analysis system to be developed at TACC A grant from the US National Science Foundation, which includes $6M for deployment plus additional funding for operations, has been awarded to support the development of a transformational data-intensive system for the open science community.


Adept project launched The Adept project, which aims to address the challenge of the energy efficient use of parallel technologies, has been successfully launched.


GPU Technical Centre of Excellence opens Located in Grenoble, France, a new EMEA GPU Technical Centre of Excellence has been opened by HP and Nvidia to enable end users, developers and independent software vendors to solve their HPC challenges.


Mississippi State


University to deploy Cray cluster


Mississippi State University has awarded Cray with a contract for the deployment of a liquid-cooled version of the Cray CS300 cluster supercomputer.


Stephane Raynaud reports on the evolution in training content and style for HPC on-demand users


I


n the typical HPC world, the most common type of training requests are either for an introductory course at the original purchase and delivery of the system, or for a set of advanced trainings for fine tuning the skillsets of seasoned users. As training specialists in the HPC market, we have begun to notice that the increase of on-demand users is causing a change in the type of training requests. There is a noticeable shift from users looking to learn all the bells and whistles to users wanting to maximise the use of tools for a specific problem. This is because the goal of HPC on-demand users is to fix a specific problem – immediately. As HPC on-demand users become


more common, HPC facilities will be challenged to provide more frequent and accessible training. In essence, they will have to take on a consumer- oriented model, in which the advice is narrowly focused to the task at hand, versus the model of a technical college that provides a full curriculum for developing an expert. During one of my recent visits


to a large HPC centre, one of its performance computational scientists explained that training infrequent users is already, to some degree, an existing challenge faced by the traditional HPC market. Innovative programmes, similar to HPC on-demand, have created a recent trend of hosting temporary programmes that could represent up to dozens of projects


18 SCIENTIFIC COMPUTING WORLD


that are awarded sizable allocations of HPC systems every year. These projects typically run for one or two years and participation ranges from advanced science and academic research to commercial applications. Having a short time line, these programmes basically create a ‘revolving door’ of new faces every year, from all walks of the development community at large. In many cases, the facilities have to reinstate training every year in order to ‘show the ropes’ to new users. While this recent trend helps poise HPC centres to be better prepared for new training requests, HPC on-demand


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HPC on-demand: the impact on training


to the HPC on-demand provider. Due to the requirements of HPC on-demand users, it is more productive to allow trainees to bring their current projects to the training versus leveraging the traditional classroom experience with pre-defined labs. While this new type of training is an abridged version of larger, more customised packages for traditional HPC users, the HPC on-demand offering is more time and cost efficient. Because this type of training forces trainers away from a traditional teacher role to a role in which they get their hands dirty during the sessions, it is important to have trainers that have hands-on experience.


After identifying this shift in users, on-demand HPC vendors and ISVs have tailored their offerings, training schedules, materials, and even the


HPC FACILITIES WILL BE CHALLENGED TO PROVIDE MORE FREQUENT TRAINING


tends to bring an even shorter window of time on the systems, thus requiring even greater flexibility. In order to prepare HPC facilities for the influx of inexperienced users, our recent strategy has been to help HPC on-demand vendors create their own introductory training packages for the set of tools hosted on their systems, and many facilities have embraced this proactive method. In addition, many HPC facilities are finding our newly- developed training packages to be a useful education tool. Ultimately, this new paradigm shifts the responsibility for training the end user from the ISV


skillsets of instructors to ensure that on-demand HPC users achieve all their objectives, while getting maximum value from the runtime they buy. Accordingly, for the HPC on- demand model to be successful, HPC facilities need to put in place new and appropriate training procedures and create partnerships with ISV providers to develop new offerings tailored to address these new challenges.


Stephane Raynaud is technical services manager at Rogue Wave. His full article is available at www.scientific-computing.com


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