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November 10, 2008

Executive Guide to SC08: Sunday and Monday

Michael Feldman

Sunday and Monday during the conference feature a wide range of informative tutorials and thought-provoking workshops. These days before the conference begins in earnest can be a good time to settle in and make the transition from everyday work into a frame of mind where you can do something that is increasingly a rare activity: think strategically about how supercomputing and HPC fit into your business.


We’ve selected two tutorials on Sunday that deal with fundamental concepts in HPC.

If you are relatively new to HPC, or have come from the business side of a supercomputing center to a position of broader responsibility, S01: Parallel Computing 101 is the tutorial for you. One tutorial isn’t enough time to become a ninja parallel coder, but S01 will provide the background you need to participate more meaningfully in conversations with your staff and colleagues. With 75 percent introductory material and 25 percent intermediate, the tutorial is aimed at students, managers and new practitioners who need a broad view of the techniques and technologies central to parallel computing from a user’s perspective.

Those with some time in HPC are no doubt thinking… and worrying… a lot these days about the transition to multicore. If you’re in that boat, S02: Application Supercomputing and the Many-Core Paradigm Shift is a tutorial you’ll want to make plans to attend. At 50 percent introductory, 25 percent intermediate, and 25 percent advanced material, this tutorial isn’t for every executive, but those with at least some technical background will benefit from the discussion of current and upcoming architectures, terminology, parallel languages, and development tools.


We’ve selected four workshops that tie in with this year’s major themes.

On Sunday is the all-day workshop Power Efficiency and the Path to Exascale Computing. This workshop deals with two of our key themes, Computational Infrastructure and Computing at Scale, and will get you in touch with the thinking in the community today about building the facilities needed as technology moves beyond teraflops to petaflops and beyond.

Tying in closely with large-scale computational support is the product of computation: large data. The Petascale Data Storage Workshop on Monday will highlight new contributions in storage architecture, APIs, parallel file systems, and more for supporting the large amounts of data generated in today’s supercomputing centers.

The half-day Workshop on Many-task Computing on Grids and Supercomputers focuses on management and execution of large-scale jobs. Organizers are building discussion around a new class of applications, which they call Many-Task Computing, characterized by computations involving multiple, distinct activities coupled by file systems or message passing.

If you are new to the idea of workflows, or find yourself thinking about how to improve the productivity of your user community, you will be interested in attending the The 3rd Workshop on Workflows in Support of Large-scale Science (WORKS08). This workshop will get you tuned up and ready to attend the workflow-related sessions later in the week if you plan to explore the Expanded Access theme.