Some Parting Words from PSC’s Beverly Clayton

By Nicole Hemsoth

March 30, 2007

Beverly Clayton, who has served as the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center's executive director since its founding in 1986, has announced her retirement effective March 31. She was one of the first people hired when PSC received funding from the National Science Foundation. During the early years of the center, she led the initial hiring of staff, coordinated the creation of office space in the Mellon Institute Building and developed organizational policies and procedures that set PSC off and running.

For many years, she directed PSC outreach efforts and has represented the center as a speaker at many public functions. Her activities have been instrumental in obtaining PSC funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that has totaled $30 million over 20 years. In 2006, she led the center's move into a renovated space at 300 South Craig Street and helped organize the center's 20-year birthday celebration. “All of us at PSC owe Beverly a tremendous debt of gratitude for her excellent, loyal service,” said PSC scientific directors Michael Levine and Ralph Roskies in an e-mail to staff.

HPCwire got the opportunity to ask Ms. Clayton to reflect on her time at PSC and to share her thoughts about managing a supercomputing center for over two decades.

HPCwire: Tell us a little bit about your background. How does one end up being the executive director for a supercomputing center?

Clayton: With a math undergraduate degree, I began my career as a Fortran programmer and Fortran teacher at Gulf Oil Research and Development. My interest in science was tangential to my interest in logic and math applications. At that time, there were very few scientists who could program, and even fewer women in programming. Gulf was a pioneer in hiring women in this area. Over the years as Gulf changed computer systems and made more use of them in both corporate and research areas, I changed assignments. Every few years I tried something new, including systems (also called assembly language) programmer, supervisor, computer education coordinator and finally, in the last days of Gulf, director and manager of datacenter functions. When Gulf left me, and went to California, I declined the transfer. I contacted several former colleagues in the Pittsburgh area, and one of them passed on my resume to Jim Kasdorf of Westinghouse who was one of the authors of the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center's proposal which recently had been funded. He felt my background would fit with building a new Center and he recommended I be interviewed by Ralph Roskies and Mike Levine, the Center's Scientific Directors.

HPCwire: Besides the supercomputing centers themselves, high-end supercomputing is being done in DOE national labs, some top tier universities, and a handful of companies. What unique role does the supercomputing center serve?

Clayton: The National Science Foundation-funded centers support open, publishable research. The research proposed is peer reviewed and all disciplines are invited, and encouraged, to utilize the NSF centers. The PSC, for many years now, has invited and attracted those applications whose need is for large-scale computational problems whose solution cannot be done with any other systems, and which may not have even be considered solvable until now.

HPCwire: Looking back over the last 21 years as executive director of the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, how has the center changed over the years?

Clayton: Actually, I think it has not changed. It has grown, and replaced systems, and added new functions as they have become available, but the focus is still the same: Make available the most capable systems to the scientific community, and support reseachers as much as possible to enable them to make breakthrough achievements.

The only noticeable change is the growth of the staff and our new office location, which is wonderful.

HPCwire: Compared to the other centers, what do you think is unique about PSC today?

Clayton: The short answer is: the strength of our user support and our focus on the science.

For 21 years, PSC has been at the forefront in providing the most capable systems backed by outstanding support for the scientific community specifically focused on the very high-end users. The answer to the question “What is the measure of success of PSC?” is the science that has been done.

The vast majority of PSC's systems over the years were the first of their line available to the open community. Each new system required very substantial work by the PSC staff with the vendor to make it into a useful research tool, especially for high-end work. Each of them also required considerable PSC support-staff effort, working closely with the nation's top research groups, to produce important and practical scientific results from the new systems. Through this work, PSC developed the reputation as the center of choice for the most demanding users in the NSF program.

HPCwire: What's been the biggest challenge at PSC?

Clayton: The biggest challenge is the same as every other organization in a world of inconsistent funding. Like companies who need to continually innovate, develop and sell products or services to maintain market share, university and non-profit centers need to do this also. And we continually have to justify our existence, to a changing audience. Funding agency personnel, at all levels, change every few years, and the institutional memory is short. Political forces also come into play as leadership changes and the needs — real and perceived — of the state and country change.
 
HPCwire: If you could change one thing about how supercomputing centers are run or funded, what would it be?

Clayton: Provide longer-term funding. Centers should have frequent, thorough reviews to ensure funding is appropriately allocated, but ongoing support is really needed.
 
HPCwire: You've been the executive director at PSC for more than two decades. Do you think you'll miss it?

Clayton: I have a large list of “to-do” projects as well as a long list of places to visit in my Airstream travel trailer, but I do intend to maintain a Pittsburgh residence, so I will be dropping in on PSC to follow their continued success.

I'll miss the people, but I intend to stay in touch. I may do a little consulting and I will be working as a volunteer on the SC08 conference so that will enable me to stay connected with the community. This community of volunteers, those who developed the concept of the Supercomputing Conference series and have expanded and improved it over the years, is a fantastic group. While a few functions within the organizational tasks are now done by professionals, the core of the conference planning and the technical content and guidelines that drive the integrity of the conference remain the responsibility of the volunteers. I feel honored and proud to have been a part of this conference since the beginning, and have seen the growth of both the conference and the people working on it. The quality is still high, and the attendance keeps growing. The Education and Broadening Participation programs are valuable additions to the conference which are having an impact on the future of our profession.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

Top500: US Maintains Performance Lead; Arm Tops Green500

November 18, 2019

The 54th Top500, revealed today at SC19, is a familiar list: the U.S. Summit (ORNL) and Sierra (LLNL) machines, offering 148.6 and 94.6 petaflops respectively, remain in first and second place. The only new entrants in t Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

ScaleMatrix and Nvidia Launch ‘Deploy Anywhere’ DGX HPC and AI in a Controlled Enclosure

November 18, 2019

HPC and AI in a phone booth: ScaleMatrix and Nvidia announced today at the SC19 conference in Denver a joint offering that puts up to 13 petaflops of Nvidia DGX-1 compute power in an air conditioned, water-cooled ScaleMa Read more…

By Doug Black

HPE and NREL Collaborate on AI Ops to Accelerate Exascale Efficiency and Resilience

November 18, 2019

The ever-expanding complexity of high-performance computing continues to elevate the concerns posed by massive energy consumption and increasing points of failure. Now, the AI Ops collaboration between Hewlett Packard En Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Intel Debuts New GPU – Ponte Vecchio – and Outlines Aspirations for oneAPI

November 17, 2019

Intel today revealed a few more details about its forthcoming Xe line of GPUs – the top SKU is named Ponte Vecchio and will be used in Aurora, the first planned U.S. exascale computer. Intel also provided a glimpse of Read more…

By John Russell

SC19: Welcome to Denver

November 17, 2019

A significant swath of the HPC community has come to Denver for SC19, which began today (Sunday) with a rich technical program. As is customary, the ribbon cutting for the Expo Hall opening is Monday at 6:45pm, with the Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AWS Solution Channel

Making High Performance Computing Affordable and Accessible for Small and Medium Businesses with HPC on AWS

High performance computing (HPC) brings a powerful set of tools to a broad range of industries, helping to drive innovation and boost revenue in finance, genomics, oil and gas extraction, and other fields. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Data Management – The Key to a Successful AI Project

 

Five characteristics of an awesome AI data infrastructure

[Attend the IBM LSF & HPC User Group Meeting at SC19 in Denver on November 19!]

AI is powered by data

While neural networks seem to get all the glory, data is the unsung hero of AI projects – data lies at the heart of everything from model training to tuning to selection to validation. Read more…

SC19’s HPC Impact Showcase Chair: AI + HPC a ‘Speed Train’

November 16, 2019

This year’s chair of the HPC Impact Showcase at the SC19 conference in Denver is Lori Diachin, who has spent her career at the spearhead of HPC. Currently deputy director for the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Exascale Computing Project (ECP), Diachin is also... Read more…

By Doug Black

Top500: US Maintains Performance Lead; Arm Tops Green500

November 18, 2019

The 54th Top500, revealed today at SC19, is a familiar list: the U.S. Summit (ORNL) and Sierra (LLNL) machines, offering 148.6 and 94.6 petaflops respectively, Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

ScaleMatrix and Nvidia Launch ‘Deploy Anywhere’ DGX HPC and AI in a Controlled Enclosure

November 18, 2019

HPC and AI in a phone booth: ScaleMatrix and Nvidia announced today at the SC19 conference in Denver a joint offering that puts up to 13 petaflops of Nvidia DGX Read more…

By Doug Black

Intel Debuts New GPU – Ponte Vecchio – and Outlines Aspirations for oneAPI

November 17, 2019

Intel today revealed a few more details about its forthcoming Xe line of GPUs – the top SKU is named Ponte Vecchio and will be used in Aurora, the first plann Read more…

By John Russell

SC19: Welcome to Denver

November 17, 2019

A significant swath of the HPC community has come to Denver for SC19, which began today (Sunday) with a rich technical program. As is customary, the ribbon cutt Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

SC19’s HPC Impact Showcase Chair: AI + HPC a ‘Speed Train’

November 16, 2019

This year’s chair of the HPC Impact Showcase at the SC19 conference in Denver is Lori Diachin, who has spent her career at the spearhead of HPC. Currently deputy director for the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Exascale Computing Project (ECP), Diachin is also... Read more…

By Doug Black

Cray, Fujitsu Both Bringing Fujitsu A64FX-based Supercomputers to Market in 2020

November 12, 2019

The number of top-tier HPC systems makers has shrunk due to a steady march of M&A activity, but there is increased diversity and choice of processing compon Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel AI Summit: New ‘Keem Bay’ Edge VPU, AI Product Roadmap

November 12, 2019

At its AI Summit today in San Francisco, Intel touted a raft of AI training and inference hardware for deployments ranging from cloud to edge and designed to support organizations at various points of their AI journeys. The company revealed its Movidius Myriad Vision Processing Unit (VPU)... Read more…

By Doug Black

IBM Adds Support for Ion Trap Quantum Technology to Qiskit

November 11, 2019

After years of percolating in the shadow of quantum computing research based on superconducting semiconductors – think IBM, Rigetti, Google, and D-Wave (quant Read more…

By John Russell

Supercomputer-Powered AI Tackles a Key Fusion Energy Challenge

August 7, 2019

Fusion energy is the Holy Grail of the energy world: low-radioactivity, low-waste, zero-carbon, high-output nuclear power that can run on hydrogen or lithium. T Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Using AI to Solve One of the Most Prevailing Problems in CFD

October 17, 2019

How can artificial intelligence (AI) and high-performance computing (HPC) solve mesh generation, one of the most commonly referenced problems in computational engineering? A new study has set out to answer this question and create an industry-first AI-mesh application... Read more…

By James Sharpe

Cray Wins NNSA-Livermore ‘El Capitan’ Exascale Contract

August 13, 2019

Cray has won the bid to build the first exascale supercomputer for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and Lawrence Livermore National Laborator Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

DARPA Looks to Propel Parallelism

September 4, 2019

As Moore’s law runs out of steam, new programming approaches are being pursued with the goal of greater hardware performance with less coding. The Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency is launching a new programming effort aimed at leveraging the benefits of massive distributed parallelism with less sweat. Read more…

By George Leopold

AMD Launches Epyc Rome, First 7nm CPU

August 8, 2019

From a gala event at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco yesterday (Aug. 7), AMD launched its second-generation Epyc Rome x86 chips, based on its 7nm proce Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

D-Wave’s Path to 5000 Qubits; Google’s Quantum Supremacy Claim

September 24, 2019

On the heels of IBM’s quantum news last week come two more quantum items. D-Wave Systems today announced the name of its forthcoming 5000-qubit system, Advantage (yes the name choice isn’t serendipity), at its user conference being held this week in Newport, RI. Read more…

By John Russell

Ayar Labs to Demo Photonics Chiplet in FPGA Package at Hot Chips

August 19, 2019

Silicon startup Ayar Labs continues to gain momentum with its DARPA-backed optical chiplet technology that puts advanced electronics and optics on the same chip Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Crystal Ball Gazing: IBM’s Vision for the Future of Computing

October 14, 2019

Dario Gil, IBM’s relatively new director of research, painted a intriguing portrait of the future of computing along with a rough idea of how IBM thinks we’ Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

ISC 2019 Virtual Booth Video Tour

CRAY
CRAY
DDN
DDN
DELL EMC
DELL EMC
GOOGLE
GOOGLE
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
PANASAS
PANASAS
VERNE GLOBAL
VERNE GLOBAL

Intel Confirms Retreat on Omni-Path

August 1, 2019

Intel Corp.’s plans to make a big splash in the network fabric market for linking HPC and other workloads has apparently belly-flopped. The chipmaker confirmed to us the outlines of an earlier report by the website CRN that it has jettisoned plans for a second-generation version of its Omni-Path interconnect... Read more…

By Staff report

Kubernetes, Containers and HPC

September 19, 2019

Software containers and Kubernetes are important tools for building, deploying, running and managing modern enterprise applications at scale and delivering enterprise software faster and more reliably to the end user — while using resources more efficiently and reducing costs. Read more…

By Daniel Gruber, Burak Yenier and Wolfgang Gentzsch, UberCloud

Dell Ramps Up HPC Testing of AMD Rome Processors

October 21, 2019

Dell Technologies is wading deeper into the AMD-based systems market with a growing evaluation program for the latest Epyc (Rome) microprocessors from AMD. In a Read more…

By John Russell

Rise of NIH’s Biowulf Mirrors the Rise of Computational Biology

July 29, 2019

The story of NIH’s supercomputer Biowulf is fascinating, important, and in many ways representative of the transformation of life sciences and biomedical res Read more…

By John Russell

Cray, Fujitsu Both Bringing Fujitsu A64FX-based Supercomputers to Market in 2020

November 12, 2019

The number of top-tier HPC systems makers has shrunk due to a steady march of M&A activity, but there is increased diversity and choice of processing compon Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Xilinx vs. Intel: FPGA Market Leaders Launch Server Accelerator Cards

August 6, 2019

The two FPGA market leaders, Intel and Xilinx, both announced new accelerator cards this week designed to handle specialized, compute-intensive workloads and un Read more…

By Doug Black

When Dense Matrix Representations Beat Sparse

September 9, 2019

In our world filled with unintended consequences, it turns out that saving memory space to help deal with GPU limitations, knowing it introduces performance pen Read more…

By James Reinders

With the Help of HPC, Astronomers Prepare to Deflect a Real Asteroid

September 26, 2019

For years, NASA has been running simulations of asteroid impacts to understand the risks (and likelihoods) of asteroids colliding with Earth. Now, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are preparing for the next, crucial step in planetary defense against asteroid impacts: physically deflecting a real asteroid. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This