On the Ground at SC14: Technical Sessions, Women in Science and Technology, and the Community Hub

Apparently there’s a whole world that exists beyond the SC14 showcase floor…the technical sessions. Intel staffers have been presenting papers (on Lattice Quantum Chromodynamics and Recycled Error Bits), participating in panels (HPC Productivity or Performance) and delivering workshops (covering OpenMP and OpenCL) over the past few days, with a plethora still to come.

To get a flavor for the sessions, I sat in on the ACM Gordon Bell finalist presentation: Petascale High Order Dynamic Rupture Earthquake Simulations on Heterogeneous Supercomputers. It’s one of five papers in the running for the Gordon Bell award and was presented at the conference by Michael Bader from TUM. The team included scientists from TUM, LMU Munich, Leibniz Supercomputing Center, TACC, National University of Defense Technology, and Intel. Their paper details optimization of the seismic software SeisSol via Intel Xeon Phi coprocessor platforms, achieving impressive earthquake model complexity of the propagation of seismic waves. The hope is that we can use optimized software and supercomputing to understand the wave movement of earthquakes, eventually anticipating real-world consequences to help adequately prepare for and minimize after effects. The Gordon Bell prize will be announced on Thursday, so good luck to the team!

Michael Bader from TUM

From there I headed back to the Intel booth to see how the demos are helping to solve additional real-world problems. First up was the GEOS-5/University of Tennessee team, which deployed a workstation with two Intel Xeon processors E5 v3 and two Intel Xeon Phi coprocessors to run the VisIT app for visual compute analysis and rendering. GEOS-5 simulates climate variability on a wide range of time scales, from near-term to multi-century, helping scientists comprehend atmospheric transport patterns that affect climate change. A real climate model (on a workstation!) which could be used to predict something like the spread and concentration of radiation around the world.

Predicting Climate Change with GEOS-5

Next up, the Ayasdi demo on precision medicine – a data analytics platform running on the Intel Xeon processor E5 V3 and a cluster with Intel True Scale Fabric that is looking for similarities in data, rather than using specific queries as searches. The demo shows how the shape of data can be employed to find unknown insights in large and complex data sets, something like “usually three hours after this type of surgery there is a fluctuation in vitals across patients.” The goal is to combine new mathematical approaches (TDA) with big data to identify biomarkers, drug targets, and potential adverse effects to support more successful patient treatment.

Ayasdi Precision Medicine Demo

Since I’m usually on a plane every couple of weeks, I was excited to talk to the Onera team on how they’re using the elsA simulation software to streamline aerospace engineering. The simulation capabilities of elsA enable reductions in ground-based and in-flight testing requirements. The Onera team optimized elsA to run in a highly scalable environment of an Intel Xeon and Xeon Phi processor based cluster with Intel True Scale fabric and SSDs, allowing for large scale modeling of elsA.

Aerospace Design Demo from Onera

Up last, I headed over to the team at the Texas Advanced Computing Center to talk about their demo combining ray tracing (OSPRay) and computing power (Intel Xeon processor E5 v3) to run computational fluid dynamics simulations and assemble flow data from every pore in the rock in Florida’s Biscayne Bay. Understanding how the aquifer transports water and contaminants is critical to providing safe resources, but eventually the researchers hope to move the flow simulation to the human brain.

TACC Demo in Action

One of the areas in the Intel booth I’d yet to visit was the Community Hub, an area to socialize and collaborate on ideas that can help drive discoveries faster. Inside the Hub, Intel and various third parties are on-hand to collaborate and discuss technology directions, best known methods, future use cases, etc. of a wide variety of technologies and topics. Hopefully attendees will create, improve or expand their social network with respect to peers engaged in similar optimization and algorithm development.

One of the community discussions with the highest interest on Tuesday was led by Debra Goldfarb, the Senior Director of Strategy and Pathfinding Technical Computing at Intel. The Hub was packed for a session on encouraging Women in Science and Technology – the stats are pretty dismal and Intel is committed to changing that. The group brainstormed reasons for the gap and how we can begin to address it. A couple of resources for those interested in the topic: www.intel.com/girlsintech and www.womeninhpc.org.uk. Intel also attended in the “Women in HPC: Mentorship and Leadership” BOF and will participate in “Woman in HPC” panel on Friday.

Above and below: Women in Science and Technology Community Hub discussion lead by Debra Goldfarb

Women in HPC BOF

Community Hub discussions coming up on Wednesday include Fortran & Vectorization, OpenMP, MKL, Data Intensive HPC, Life Sciences and HPC, and HPC and the Oil and Gas industry.

At the other end of the booth, the Intel Parallel Universe Theater was hopping all day. I checked out a presentation from Eldon Walker of the Lerner Research Institute at the Cleveland Clinic who discussed their 1.2 petabyte mirrored storage system (DC and server room) and their 270 terabytes of Lustre storage which enables DNA sequence analysis, finite element analysis, natural language processing, image processing and computational fluid dynamics. Dr. Eng Lim Goh from SGI presented the company’s energy efficient supercomputers, innovative cooling systems, and SGI MineSet for machine learning. And Tim Cutts from Wellcome Sanger Trust made it through some audio and visual issues to present his topic on working with genomics and the Lustre file system and how they solved a couple of tricky issues (denial of service issue via samtools and performance issues with concurrent file access).

Eldon Walker, Lerner Research Institute

Dr. Eng Lim Goh, SGI

Tim Cutts, Wellcome Trust Sanger

And lastly, for those following along with the Intel Parallel Universe Computing Challenge – in match two, The Brilliant Dummies from Korea defeated the Linear Scalers from Argonne by a score of 5790 to 3588. And in match three, SC3 (Latin America) fell to the Coding Illini (NCSA and UIUC) with a score of 2359 to 5359, which means both the Brilliant Dummies and Coding Illini move on in the Challenge. Match 4 and 5 will be up on Wednesday. See you in booth 1315!