Category Archives: Press Outreach

HPCAC Horizon – March 2017

Spring seeds possibilities …

Spring is near and abundant with opportunities to help each other and the broader community flourish! We return to sunny Lugano for Swiss Conference 2017 (10-12 April) and much like nature blossoms anew our annual program yields entirely new sessions and SMEs amidst a few constants and surprises .. like the evening event. Last year’s funicular ascent brought the group to new heights so here’s a hint for next month … every great kick-off requires?

This perennial favorite is thanks to our pioneering co-chair and host Hussein Harake and the Centro Svizzero di Calcolo Scientifico (CSCS) in collaboration with HPCAC members and this year’s sponsors – Atos, Lenovo, NVIDIA, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Mellanox and DDN – along with leaders across the global research community. It will be a great three days! Join us, registration continues through 31 March:

As Winter wanes especially for California, as does its homage in song that ‘it never rains’, we extend a huge thanks to our HPCAC members – attendees, SMEs and sponsors – Huawei, IBM, Intel, Mellanox, NVIDIA and Weka.IO – along with our brilliant co-chair and host Steve Jones, the Stanford High Performance Computing Center team and Stanford University! Thank you all for your contributions to a wildly successful Stanford Conference 2017.

We enjoyed a hardy turnout at Stanford University (07-08 February) with participants from far and near willingly taking on mudslides and monsoon-like weather to share and learn! Thank you Fortran for our daily forecast … one of my favorite timely takeaways learned over two days and twenty-two sessions featuring luminaries in keynotes, best practices and industry insight talks! We got more hands-on too including our first ‘Twilight Tutorial’ where over thirty students and seasoned SMEs took on Deep Learning live! An incredible start to the year, enjoy it here:

June yields opportunities to cultivate the future …

Through an amazing collaboration with the ISC Group we host the annual ISC-HPCAC Student Cluster Competition (SCC) which has grown over the last six years to a global phenomenon and the model for all others! Held during the ISC High Performance Conference and Exhibition in Frankfurt, Germany (18-22 June) the 2017 competition features twelve teams of six undergraduate students from universities across China, Germany, Singapore, Spain, the UK and the US along with regional winners from Africa, China and the US who will face-off in this world championship competition which runs from Monday through Wednesday (19-21 June).

Sponsor the SCC! This important training ground helps student teams learn how to scale HPC, developing skills they’ll use throughout their careers. Give our future lift by joining us and STEM champions like Airbus and the Portland Group! SCC sponsorships are offered as multi-party Baccalaureus and Magister levels or Doceo a single sponsor exclusive. All sponsor proceeds are applied in full to support the competition and teams. Non-monetary contributions or Licentia sponsorships, providing students teams with software, tools and training in advance of the competition, are also available.

These SCC sponsorships are ‘priceless’ helping each student go from novice to HPC ace in a few short months. Plus each team member takes the skills they develop as international competitors with them through their academic years into opportunities beyond – from summer internships to full time employment – providing reciprocal benefits for would be (sponsor) employers and (student)employees long after their competitions and commencement. More at:

Sponsor the ISC STEM Student Day! Seeking talent? Seeking vacancies? Complementing the SCC focus we’re also very pleased to share in an exciting new initiative being launched at ISC this year! To encourage even more students to consider careers in HPC the ISC Group will bring more than 200 regional and international STEM students together on Wednesday (21 June) for the STEM Student Day providing participants with a free platform to discover HPC and its possibilities.

Students will tour the exhibition showcase and SCC competition, attend the awards ceremony and Thomas Sterling’s conference keynote and take part in a special evening that includes a career fair and gala dinner. Please join us and encourage others to support this critical program. Find out more information by contacting by 15 March or visit:

Beyond brand recognition or even the philanthropic feel good a big part of the HPCAC membership, its ‘heart’ (be it securing sponsorships for conferences and competitions supporting universities, students, centers and members) is YOU the network of expertise! You are inspiring possibility, championing HPC within the community and its profound impact on and with the world at large … that’s a value being created now to benefit years from now. To you and making a world of difference daily … Grazie … Merci … Danke … תודה ….. Engraziel … Dangge… Thank you!

See you in Switzerland, Germany, points between and beyond …

Next on HPCAC Horizon …Spain, China and more .. coming soon!

Get involved, find more information, access resources, connect with experts, register for conferences, become a conference and/or competition sponsor and more … visit the HPC Advisory Council

Making it meaningful …

It is indeed the most wonderful time of the year! Everyone’s readying for time with dear and near ones. At the HPCAC we’re busy getting ready for next year …

Mark your calendars, make your plans, submit topics and get registered! We’ll kick-off the New Year with the Stanford Conference, 07-08 February and if you haven’t heard, read or divined we’re accepting submissions for the Stanford Conference through the end of this month. Thanks to everyone who has submitted already, look for that notification shortly! We head over the Alps to Lugano for the Swiss Conference, 10-12 April. The deadline to submit proposals for the Swiss Conference is 02 February. And keep in mind that early bird registration ends on 31 January so get registered early to take advantage of the reduced registration fee. Conference dates, locations, etc., for the China and Spain conferences will be shared separately. Judging from the year in review the event horizon ahead promises to be exceptional … and that is all … thanks to you … ALL!!!
As we wind down 2016 … what a year it was for me, my first with the HPCAC!
I close 2016 filled with gratitude! Thank you for your support of our efforts – as conference sponsors, presenters, attendees and hosts; as our community champions liking, following, posting, sharing extending our reach further, with more influence and impact than we’ve ever seen in our history! As student teams competing in the SCC and RDMA competitions, to you, all of your team sponsors, advisors, supporters and academic institutions for encouraging your participation and to the ISC Group, our brilliant bunch of SCC collaborators and the many friends of HPCAC who package, produce, promote, post, survey, tweet, tout, volunteer, judge, share and so much more … Thank you for your help on all of the things that connect us as ‘community’.
Much like an award nominee struggles with ordering honorary mentions I too grappled with the notion of rolling credits. I want to list everyone, by name, all first – particularly since this was an entire year of firsts for me. Since that’s not realistic … I start with our wonderful hosts, by name! Thank you … Steve, Vi, Pamela and Stanford HPCC, Hussein, Tatjana, Michele and CSCS, David, Marta, Rosa, Sergi and BSC! Thank you for being wonderful hosts and amazing collaborative partners! I learned a lot, have a lot to learn still but appreciate all of you, immensely and can’t wait to do it again in just a few short weeks and months from now!
And while I won’t call all of you out by name, thank you to our brilliant line-up of SMEs who gave us your time, insights and expertise. You are all divine and I look forward to the next opportunity to gather and learn more ~ you did see the deadlines for submissions, right? Serendipitous I think! Huge thanks to all of our attendees all over the world and to everyone who sacrificed time, to travel, learn and contribute. I hope you will plan to join us again in the coming weeks ~ registration is open.
Of course none of this would be possible without the support of our HPCAC members whose generosity sponsored these opportunities throughout the year. Thank you to everyone who drove the sponsorships for championing the program within your organization and to your organizations as well! Thank you all … Bright Computing, Colfax, Cycle Computing, DDN, Dell, Huawei, iFlytek, Intel, IBM,, JZ Tech, Mellanox, Megvii, NVIDIA, Ombibond, Panasas, The Portland Group, Rescale, SGI, Seagate, Sensetime, Sugon, Supermicro, ThinkParq … and to our media and industry partners ChinaByte, DOIT, GCG, HPCWire, insideHPC, Intersect360 Research, McMahon Consulting,, The Next Platform, TechTarget,, China … Thank you all for making 2016 remarkable! And if I made a glaring omission, I hope you will forgive … it was one of the fastest years I’ve ever experienced. A whirlwind!
There’s a couple of people that do get called out specifically … Pak and David, my HPCAC cohorts! I wish I could give them more than a simple shout out because a thanks relative to everything they do ‘around here’ is hardly sufficient. What’s more … they do everything with a smile, still and always. They suffer me well and are about the most wonderful humans on the planet! I believe they are actually able to leap tall buildings with a single bound! Thank you fellas, for everything! I appreciate you!
I would also be remiss if I didn’t give a thanks to the extended team of creative folks who shall continue to remain nameless. Thank you for taking care of the website, updates, pages, printing, ghost writing and editing, signage, printing, shipping, logistics, finance, etc. … pretty much every day it’s all y’all that I love!
Last but certainly not least is the Chairman. Himself. I missed the award presentation for outstanding leadership, but hey, there’s the picture anyway! It really was a huge nod and awesome! Given the list of nominees … I mean you talk about the who’s who in HPC. Thanks to everyone who gave your vote for our Chair! I believe it was a well-deserved, hard-earned, long overdue recognition … more so now based on what I’ve observed over the last year in terms of travel, work, etc. That’s actually one of the reasons for being here. It’s such a privilege to collaborate with someone like Gilad, who has the same passion for this crazy amazing thing we all do … it makes it all worth it … gives it meaning!

And that is sort of what my year has been … meaningful … thanks … to ALL OF YOU! And thanks to all of you … I look forward to more … so get ready!

Wishing you and yours ~ joy!

What do you get when you mix 21st Century HPC SMEs with 1st Century BC History?

The 5th Annual Spain Conference! Hosted by the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) in partnership with the HPC Advisory Council (HPCAC) and member sponsors Dell Inc., Mellanox Technologies and DDN Storage the one day conference takes place next Wednesday in León and will feature leading collaborations taking place within and beyond Spain’s borders. This year’s agenda underscores the collaborations that are critical to deriving the ‘answer’.

We’ll meet PhD powerhouse Rosa Badia, the driving force in development of programming models for complex platforms will share insights into BSC’s Big Data initiatives. National Research prize winner and author Dr. Jose Duato, whose work influenced routing algorithm designs in Sun’s Magnum switch and supercomputing class systems IBM BlueGene/L and Cray T3E, joins from the Universitat Politècnica de València to discuss ‘rCUDA’ and ongiong developments in remote GPU virtualization including the frameworks futures in cloud computing. We’ll also welcome Álvaro Fernández González and the Fundación Centro de Supercomputación (FSCSL) – the Castiella y Llión region’s research consortium exploring everything from optimizing energy efficiency and ROI of classic HPC architectures to stimulating economic development by partnering with local industry to drive innovation into comercial R&D.

There’s also the heavy hitter line-up of technologists. Co-founder of OpenMPI and 12 year veteran of two US labs, Richard Graham will examine the Co-Design collaboration opportunities that are going to be critical in achieving new breakthroughs. Our annual Swiss Conference host, Hussein Harake joins from CSCS to share his engineering insights and parallel file system fundamentals following his in-depth evaluation of BeeGFS. We’ll also welcome Tommaso Cecchi, who joined DDN after 12 years with the Italian consortium CINECA. Cecchi does a deep dive on DDN’s Infinite Memory Engine – flash cache for PFS. Representing one of many foundation members coined (by another of our presenters) the ‘rebel alliance’, IBMer Martina Naughton reveals the force of OpenPOWER providing analysis and lessons learned from various applied research projects and the complex systems that were required to address very real world problems. Dell’s (and My Favorite) Martin Hilgeman brings perspectives of a system builder to the massively parallel performance discussion – examining the continuous advances in multi-core architectures and its impact on users and computational work.

The day starts and ends with industry insights from industry notables Dan Olds and Addison Snell, both longtime contributors to our mission – from the conferences to the student cluster competitions and so much more! DanO sheds his SCC color commentary to kick-off the day with a new take on what is seemingly the hot topic in HPC these days – High Performance Interconnects (HPI). Ever the watcher over the technology industry the former Gabriel Consulting founder’s new venture with industry strategy and research firm OrionX brings him to us for the day to expand upon their recently published analysis of the HPI market, its futures and evaluation considerations. Marking ten years of Intersect360 Research success, we commemorate this accomplishment featuring company founder and HPC veteran Addison Snell as this year’s ‘end note’ – a retrospective of the HPC industry over the last decade and predictions of what it will look like a decade from now and results from the firms most recent end-user study.

I am really excited about next week thanks to all of you – our wonderful hosts and generous sponsors, all of our presenters and participants – and your teams, organizations and yours as well! The sharing of expertise, the consideration of time and support are gifts, greatly appreciated! Having the honor of putting brilliant people together with brilliant people, where amazing things happen … is for me anyway…‘the answer’!

See you in León! If you can’t make Spain we have an incredible line-up next month as well at our China Conference! And of course save the date for Stanford (07-08 Feb, 2017) and Lugano (10-12 Apr, 2017)!

SCC cliffhanger …

On June 22, more than seventy students competing in the annual Student Cluster Competition (SCC) gathered in Frankfurt Germany for the final award ceremony where for the third time, South Africa’s Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC) student team came away as the 2016 SCC Grand Champions. Marking their third win and the SCC’s first ‘three-peat” champions, CHPC narrowly edged out this year’s overall runner-up Tsinghua University, unseating the champion team from China from their own SCC incumbency during the last two years.

SCC 2016 Overall Winners South Africa’s Centre for High Performance Computing Student Team: Avi Bank, Leanne Johnson, Craig Bester, Ashley Naudé, Sabeehah Ismail, Andries Bingani.                          Also pictured: Pak Lui, Gilad Shainer and Thomas Sterling
SCC 2016 Overall Winners South Africa’s Centre for High Performance Computing Student Team

An ongoing rivalry, both frontrunner teams entered the world championship as the competitions’ only two, two time overall champions and finished this year with the closest final scores of any competition to date. China’s top two entries from the Asian Student Challenge (ASC) fared well with ASC overall winner Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST) returning home with the SCC LINPACK award and ASC runner-up Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) ranking third in the SCC’s overall winner circle. Winning the hearts and minds of ISC attendees Universitat Politècnica De Catalunya Barcelona Tech (UPC) – team ‘Thunderstruck’ – garnered the most votes to be recognized as the 2016 SCC Fan Favorite.

A truly international competition, the 2016 roster included teams from Estonia, Germany, Singapore; one additional team from China and three teams from the U.S., along with the winners’ circle teams representing South Africa, China and the Catalonian Province of Spain. Returning teams included Germany’s own University of Hamburg along with Estonia’s University of Tartu.

China’s Tsinghua University, HUST and SJTU were joined by another SCC veteran team the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC). The U.S. debuted three new freshman entries including the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) which consisted of a combined team of two high-school students and undergraduates from Queens University (Canada), University of Missouri and Harvard University. Also participating were Boston Green team students from MIT, Boston University and Northeastern University; and two very experienced teams from Purdue University and University of Colorado, Boulder that also combined forces. The final debut team also marked the competitions first city-state entry with Singapore’s team entry from Nanyang Technological University.

In addition to new entries, the balance of SCC teams with one or more years of experience returned with a roster comprised of almost entirely new members. One constant beyond a team name and every team’s most critical asset is the team advisor(s). Teams may have up to two advisors but students must rely solely on their own abilities once the competition starts. Teams work with their advisors and other mentors and begin preparing well in advance of the competition, sacrificing spare time and forgoing time off during school breaks to finalize sponsorships, refine designs, secure and test systems, characterize, run and optimize applications, refine benchmarking and troubleshooting prowess. Their advanced work as a team is often a major contributor to their overall performance and potential presence at the closing ceremony. Needless to say, students give up a lot in order to compete but also learn a lot as a result of competing.

The annual competitions run from the opening to the close of the ISC exhibition. Teams execute a variety of known benchmarks along with ‘mystery applications’ which are revealed prior to the daily start and strive to obtain the best results possible from technology platforms of their own design. This year, in addition to the ‘known’ HPL and HPCC benchmarks, teams encountered Splotch, Graph500 and WRF which were chosen for their unique characteristics: WRF for its I/O usage and scalability; Graph500’s requirement to implement code and algorithm; Splotch for its heavy I/O plus its post processing and visualization capabilities prompting teams to generate a video as part of the mission. ‘Cloverleaf’, this year’s secret mission, challenged teams to determine which hardware components to remove or keep to draw the least amount of power. Where teams can prepare well in advance for the ‘known applications’ the added combination of mystery applications and secret challenges helps students learn how to run, compile and troubleshoot issues and comprehend the effect of the system components and their effects on performance.

With a total run-time just under nineteen hours, the competition kicks-off with the team shirt scramble where each student must find their team shirt before a team can begin running the first benchmark and culminates at the annual award ceremony. While every competition of a similar kind maintains specific requirements and run-times, the SCC is unique by design. Intentionally infusing fun, team building activities with free time to allow teams to get to know each other, attend conference sessions and experience some of the culture and attractions of the host city.

Launched in 2012, the SCC is the result of a visionary collaboration and partnership between the ISC Group and the HPC Advisory Council (HPCAC). What was started as an international friendly has transcended borders and helped bridge the global HPC community; from inspiring comparable national competitions in China and South Africa to supporting efforts underway in India and elsewhere. China’s ASC now hosts more than two hundred teams in their own national competition each year and in addition to sending its top winners to SCC, teams from the U.S. and South Africa competitions also vie to compete in the annual ISC-HPCAC challenge.

SCC 2016 Award Ceremony
SCC 2016 Award Ceremony

While the STEM challenge is as significant as the need for a skilled workforce, the ISC Group, HPCAC are helping to make inroads in fulfilling the demand. Over the last five years twenty-six international teams and more than two hundred students have competed at the annual ISC competitions. SCC  teams have represented all but one of earth’s habitable continents, the lost continent a consequence of a team withdrawing its participation. Students, their team advisors and academic affiliations from Brazil, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Estonia, Germany, India, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain along with the U.K. and U.S. have been an integral part of the SCC’s ongoing success and have been key to enticing more countries, institutions, industries, teams, students and professionals to take part in the coming years competitions.

In fact, we’re accepting team submissions for the 2017 competition as of today (it’s on the next page over under press releases … or on the competition page)!

For me it’s sort of like an SCC ‘cliffhanger’ …

… which teams return … does the rivalry continue between South Africa and China … maybe Estonia or Hamburg or Singapore or a team from the US or any one of these brilliant teams could finally have their day or new entry could come in and own it  … all of that and more … is yet to be determined …! Once you meet these students, you’ll understand why we’re already counting the days until next June!  These teams, those students, this competition … AMAZING!

As we close out the fifth year of competition we extend our congratulations and thanks to the 2016 winners and all of the competing teams, their advisors, academic affiliations and sponsors! We also thank the ISC Group, Dan Olds and Gabriel Consulting, our HPCAC chair and SCC MC Gilad Shainer, our social media mavens and mavericks and all of the dedicated experts, individuals, teams, volunteers, members and partners for your ongoing support and contribution to the success of SCC and to all the ISC attendees who took time to meet with the student and HPCAC teams!

I close my first SCC owing my most humbled thanks to the two SCC Stars, true HPCAC heroes Pak Lui and David Cho – for everything and more over my last six months of firsts, for the last five and the many years ahead of SCC success for all they do every day … for me and many … and then some! And always … ALWAYS … with a smile! Thank you both!

Thank you ~ All!

HPC Advisory Council Forms Worldwide Centers of Excellence

This week we announced the formation of the HPC Advisory Council Centers of Excellence. The HPC Advisory Council Centers of Excellence will provide local support for the HPC Advisory Council’s programs, local workshops and conferences, as well as host local computing centers that can be used to extend such activities.

“We are pleased to be named as one the inaugural HPC Advisory Council’s Centers of Excellence, covering HPC research, outreach and educational activities within Europe,” said Hussein Nasser El-Harake at the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre who serves as the Director of the HPC Advisory Council Center of Excellence in Switzerland. “As part of the HPC Advisory Council’s Center of Excellence, we look forward to advancing awareness of the beneficial capabilities of HPC to new users.”


HPC in 2010: A look at technology, issues, and opportunities

insideHPC talked with Gilad Shainer, the Chairman of the HPC Advisory Council, about what the organziation does, how its grown, and how it is helping catalyze developments for users and HPC businesses.  In addition talking about what the Council has already accomplished, Gilad also talks about the new research and focus areas that they are kicking off. The  Council’s mission is to help everyone, so papers, inf0rmation, best practices, and so on are all available for download at their website.

Video is posted here:

A Q&A Roundtable with the HPC Advisory Council

We recently performed an interview with Addison Snell, General Manager at Tabor Research, where we highlighted the council’s activities for the past year, and provided some insight into our future direction.

Participating were:
Gilad Shainer – Chair, HPC Advisory Council
Brian Sparks – Media Relations Director, HPC Advisory Council
Gautam Shah – CEO, Colfax International
Scot Schultz – Senior Strategic Alliance Manager, AMD
Peter Lillian – Senior Product Marketing Manager, Dell

It’s amazing to me what the Council has been able to accomplish in under a year. Sometimes it all flies by so fast that you don’t have time to sit back and try to take it all in. Am I being a little grandiose here? Ya, sure, but a lot of folks from various companies have put in a huge amount of work…and it’s nice to see it all come into fruition where it benefits all members. Thank you everyone for helping the Council become what it is today.

You can find the whole interview here.

Talk with you soon,

Brian Sparks