A Revitalized Argonne Returns to Compete at SC14 Competition

Mike Bernhardt is the Community Evangelist for Intel’s Technical Computing Group

Argonne National Laboratory’s rich legacy of pursuing fundamental and applied science, and engineering has led the lab to develop a world-class computational center that supports more than 800 active users and over 120 active projects from universities, national laboratories, and industry.

Last year Associate Laboratory Director Rick Stevens led the Argonne Argonauts in the inaugural Intel Parallel Universe Computing Challenge (PUCC). This year he has passed the reins on to Kalyan “Kumar” Kumaran, manager of Performance Engineering and Data Analytics in the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ACLF).

We managed to get a few moments of Kumar’s time in the midst of a hectic schedule and DOE audits to answer a few question about the 2014 Argonne team which he has christened “Linear Scalers” in hope that the new name will give them better luck than last year when they were eliminated in the first round of competition.

The Argonne Linear Scalers include (L to R) Vitali Morozov, Performance Engineering, ALCF; Kumar Kumaran; Kevin Harms, Performance Engineering, ALCF, and Tim Williams - Computational Scientist, ALCF. Not pictured is Hal Finkel, Computational Scientist, ALCF

Q. Rick Stevens was the team captain of last year’s team from Argonne called the Argonauts. He’s recruited you to fill that role this year. What did he tell you about the competition to convince you to take the lead?

A. Not much. Other than that he enjoyed the experience and Argonne should definitely take part this year. Also the Argonauts were not too lucky, so we changed the name and will return as the new and revitalized Linear Scalers.

Q. How do you think this competition will help others to understand the value of modernizing their code?

A. Developers will quickly notice how their portable code can be made Intel specific, but will run 1,000 times faster!

Q. How will your team prepare for this year’s challenge?

A. Pre-competition stretching, and coffee. We will start memorizing sections from James Reinders’ books.

Q. SC14 is using the theme “HPC Matters” for the conference. Can you explain why “HPC Matters” to you?

A. HPC matters because no single modern technology has had such an impact on such a wide range of research activities. The U.S. Department of Energy has a long history of building user facilities in support of science, but computing moved front and center a decade ago with the creation of the Leadership Computing Facility (LCF). The science being done in LCF centers is changing the world-- producing better airplanes, accelerating discoveries of disease-fighting drugs, and designing better materials for everything from computer chips to new ways to store energy. All these advancements come from better simulation science, better codes, and better and faster HPC systems.