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October 10, 2013

The Show Goes On…

Tiffany Trader

SC13, the annual Supercomputing Conference, is set to take place next month, November 17-22, in Denver, Colorado. Because the annual event draws much of its attendee base from government agencies and national labs, the show’s organizers want to assure attendees that it will go on as planned regardless of how the government shutdown proceeds.

SC13 is also amending some of its policies for those directly affected by the shutdown, as described in this statement from General Chair Bill Gropp:

The SC family is diverse, and includes many volunteers and committee members who are directly affected by the shutdown of the US government – our thoughts and concerns are with these families and their communities during this difficult time.

We understand that SC13 is a vital part of annual planning for many of you, and we are beginning to get questions from you about possible impacts of the shutdown on this November’s conference. Today I can say that the US Government shutdown has not had a significant impact on SC13.  In fact, registration remains very strong. 

SC13 remains confident that the shutdown will be resolved before the conference begins. However, in the event that it is not resolved, SC13 will waive the conference cancelation fees for those directly affected by the shutdown, including federal employees and federal contractors who must follow US government travel rules. We are also considering extending the early registration period for those attendees as well.

SC13 is committed to making this year’s conference the best ever and will do everything we can to ensure everyone can attend.

For a thorough drill-down of how the shut down is affecting the HPC and larger science community both near and long-term, check out this recent HPCwire podcast with Intersect360 analysts Addison Snell and Michael Feldman. The analysts make the point that even before the shutdown, federal R&D programs were operating on a reduced budget because of the sequester.

Scientists who are operating on prior fiscal year funding are still working, as are those who are exempted due to the critical nature of their work. But scientists who do not fall in these camps have been furloughed.

The longer that the shutdown goes on, the more people will be affected and the more that scientific research will be harmed. Science relies on pipelines and these pipelines are being interrupted. It’s not just the US that is affected. US federal government spending comprises about 10-11 percent of HPC spending worldwide, leaving a potentially huge affect on the market.

Snell and Feldman anticipate a reduced government presence at Supercomputing (their podcast was released before the SC13 chair’s statement), which could have an echo effect on vendors who sell to the government sector. Despite these issues, SC remains the preeminent HPC event, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary in Denver. As Snell says: “This is a community event and it’s important for the people who are there that we show our support.”

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