July 17, 2012

HPC Community Remembers Allan Snavely

Robert Gelber

Allan Snavely, the CTO of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, died unexpectedly last Saturday of an apparent heart attack. Snavely, was a well-regarded HPC expert and a co-creator of the “Gordon” supercomputer at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC). Along with his colleagues, Snavely won the SC09 storage challenge award for an early version of that system. U-T San Diego published an article on Tuesday, recounting his accomplishments. 

Snavely received his undergraduate, master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of California, San Diego. In 1994 he began working at the university’s San Diego Supercomputer Center. Along with Laura Carrington, he co-founded the Performance Modeling and Characterization laboratory in 2001.

One of the lab’s main objectives is to improve supercomputing speed and sophistication. Along with her associates, Carrington is attempting to optimize the interaction between supercomputing hardware and applications. In 2007 and 2008, she and Snavely were finalists for the Gordon Bell Prize.


In May of this year, Snavely left SDSC to join Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as its new chief technology officer. The position allowed him to work at a DOE site with a stellar reputation in supercomputing, while still maintaining his connection with SDSC. Part of his new duties at the lab involved exascale research.

During a recent visit to SDSC, Snavely drew up a prototype for an updated, more powerful version of the Gordon supercomputer. According to center director Mike Norman, they might end up building such a system based on that sketch.

Allan Snavely was 49 years old and is survived by his 9-year-old daughter and his wife Nancy of 22 years. She recognized his passion for supercomputing, remarking, “I think he just loved the invention process. Problem-solving was his favorite thing.”

A memorial service will be held on August 12th and some faculty members at UC San Diego plan to hold a fall seminar in Snavely’s memory.

Full story at U-T San Diego

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