SC Chair on Why HPC Matters

By HPCwire Staff

October 30, 2014

Funding for research in HPC – particularly in the U.S. – is under constant scrutiny and as a result innovation and discovery suffers. While SC has done an excellent job at promoting some global HPC innovations, SC chair, Trish Damkroger felt it was important to highlight how impactful HPC is to our everyday lives. For instance, one would be hard pressed to experience a “normal” day for the average citizen without encountering something that wasn’t developed using HPC.

According to Trish, this HPC Matters campaign links computational science to the best of modern science and technology to properly inform the public and remind ourselves why HPC Matters. It is also an effort to broaden our message so that policymakers, tax payers, and our communities completely understand the importance of HPC not only in intensive research, but also in solving critical medical questions or developing something that seems as simple as a better baby diaper, but is equally as complex.

It was drawn from the realization that while people are impressed with the size, power requirements and abilities of today’s machines they really have very little understanding of how it touches them personally.  Even many technical HPC professionals working in their area of expertise can quickly forget how HPC affects them in their lives outside of work. We also felt this campaign would instill a great sense of pride in the HPC community by recognizing and highlighting the impact of the massive amount of impressive work evident throughout the world.

Will there be evidence of HPC Matters in multiple areas?

It will be a prevalent theme throughout the conference, for SC14 and for future years.  It is a seed that we planted in 2013 and the community responded positively to it. We challenged the community to create short videos sharing their own stories of how HPC impacts their lives and communities. We received so many great submissions that you can view on our “Favorites” list on our YouTube channel.

On the exhibit floor, you can check out the HPC Impact Showcase, which will highlight real success stories like how HPC is helping to stop the spread of contagious diseases, which is a problem we are confronting right now on a global scale.

We have also created five new videos that focus on different storylines – from helping Parkinson’s patients to modeling climate change to enabling artists to make breakthroughs in animation. The videos will be available on our social media channels and will be shared throughout the conference.

Lastly, the theme will be an obvious focus at the new, inaugural HPC Matters plenary that will be held on Nov. 17th at 5:30PM CST Since we feel this message is so important, we have decided that this plenary should be open and free to the general public.

How did the HPC Matters Plenary come about? 

In order to augment our message we felt it very important to engage other partners in the effort – particularly leveraging our many exhibitors.

This summer, we distributed a solicitation to some of our largest and longest serving exhibitors (both industrial and research), explained our concept and asked them to respond with proposal for a talk, if they were interested.

We had many outstanding responses even with very short notice. From those responses we picked SGI in collaboration with NASA. We felt their proposal provided the strongest HPC matters message in a very direct, open and factual way. We hope this will be the first of many “HPC Matters” plenary talks, discussions, and presentations – even outside of the conference.

Will it be around in future years? 

Yes, the SC Committee, including the future SCxy Chairs, have agreed that this will be a strategic directive for at least through SC16. If it turns out to be the success – which we hope and think it will be – you can expect it to be around for many years beyond that.  There are just that many incredible stories to tell.  This year is just the tip of the HPC Matters iceberg, so to speak.

What can people expect at the Plenary

In our call for participation we asked exhibitors to tell the stories of how their customers are using HPC to improve people’s lives. We set the expectation that these stories need to appeal to a wide audience, from the most sophisticated CS researcher to the general public.

At this year’s plenary you will hear how the Internet and social media have fundamentally changed the connections between people, nations and cultures. You will hear how wider access to high performance computing is playing a key role in fulfilling humanity’s needs, ranging from the basics, such as food, water, shelter and health, to hardship reduction, care for the earth, commerce and entertainment. You will hear how our community is answering some of life’s most profound questions and improving the general quality of life and play.

How will companies be considered in future years?

We applaud the organizations that bravely stepped forward this year to support such a new and engaging initiative. Future years will follow a similar path and will be expanded to include an even wider pool of candidates. This year we expect both SGI and NASA to set a high bar that will motivate other organizations to continue to share important global HPC triumphs.

Special thanks to SC Communications Liaison, Brian Ban.

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