Singing Exascale

By Tom Tabor

June 26, 2010

A lighter side of the International Advanced Research Workshop on HPC, Grids and Clouds in Cetraro, Italy
Charlie CatlettMany of you know Charlie Catlett as one of the elite HPC scientists in the world, and indeed he is. From his days at NCSA and directing the TeraGrid to his current role as CIO of Argonne National Labs, his career is evidence of his ability to capture the complexities of HPC, garner a consensus, integrate the technologies across many institutions and lead. I’ve followed Charlie for many years and in every instance he has been successful.

What many of you may not know about Charlie is that he is one of the nicest guys in our HPC world and he’s a rock drummer/musician with a penchant for the Rolling Stones!

This week Charlie is at the International Advanced Research Workshop on HPC, Grids and Clouds in Cetraro, Italy. This event has quickly become one of those “must be at” events for the ruling HPC elite. There are just over 100 attendees, but the list reads like a who’s who in HPC, or more accurately, like HPCwire’s People to Watch list. Indeed many serious discussions abound regarding the challenges of HPC, but there is also some friendly levity. Our good friend Charlie is at the heart of forming a playful tradition at the event.

Charlie has created a singing panel where he recruits four or five colleagues, gets them up on stage, rewrites the lyrics to a well-known rock and roll song, then gets the panel to lead the whole audience in singing his HPC version. In 2008 he did “With Some Middleware from my Friends” to the tune of the Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends.” Last year he did the Rolling Stones’ “Hey, You, Get Off of My Cloud.” And today, again to a Rolling Stones tune, he did the very appropriate “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” In true techie form, the sing along was accompanied by iPhone owners in the audience playing the melody using the Ocarina “flute like” App.

Who says HPCers aren’t cool? At the very least they’re having some fun. Well done Charlie!

Here are the lyrics and Charlie’s slides for this year’s “Singing Panel”:

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

(Lyrics by Charlie Catlett)

We talked of Exascale at the reception
perfect for our science plans
We knew we’d create some heat convection
For cooling we would need a million fans

But you can’t always get what you want (3x)
But if you try sometimes, well you might find
You get what you need

When it comes time for demonstration
A million cores with full memory slots
We’ll need to call the power station 
Telling them we’re gonna need 2 gigawatts

You can’t always get what you want (3x)
But if you try sometimes, well you just might find
You get what you need

We’ll seek computational experts
To get our algorithms fixed
I was standin’ in line with Gandinetti
He said ‘you will need some very clever tricks’

We decided that we’d have some sake
My favorite flavor, blowfish blue
I sung my song to the Satoshis

They said “by 2018?” try 2032

I guess you can’t always get what you want (3x)
But if you try sometimes, well you just might find
You get what you need

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