Interview with 2019 Person to Watch Jack Wells

By HPCwire Editorial Team

May 2, 2019

Today, we are highlighting our interview with 2019 Person to Watch Jack Wells as part of our ongoing HPCwire People to Watch interview series. Jack is the director of science for the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF) and the Titan and Summit supercomputers, located at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). He is also the newly elected vice chair of the American Physical Society Division of Computational Physics.

Jack — who earned his Ph.D. in Physics from Vanderbilt University — has authored or co-authored over 100 scientific papers, spanning subjects including nanoscience, materials science and engineering, nuclear and atomic physics computational science, applied mathematics, and text-based data analytics. He previously led both ORNL’s Computational Materials Sciences group in the Computer Science and Mathematics Division and the Nanomaterials Theory Institute in the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences.

HPCwire: Hi Jack, congratulations on your selection as a 2019 HPCwire Person to Watch. Also congratulations on the impressive science already being tackled with Summit. Director of science at a leadership computing center sounds like the kind of title most HPCwire readers would love to have. What’s the actual job? What are your primary responsibilities and how have they changed (and are changing)?

Jack Wells: As the Director of Science for the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, I’m responsible for the scientific outcomes of our computing facility’s user programs. We provide leadership-class computing resources to researchers from government, academia, and industry who have many of the largest computing problems in science.

One can think of my job as an alliance manager creating synergy between our users and our leadership computing facility. I engage with our PIs, especially in our large programs (INCITE and ALCC), to ensure all aspects of our center are operated in a way that prioritizes their science outcomes. My primary responsibilities are in ensuring we are operating the facility in a way that prioritizes science; leading our team that manages our discretionary computing and data-storage resources and policies; engaging and requirements gathering for future procurements; and working with our PIs and science writers to develop materials that celebrate the accomplishments from our user programs.

My responsibilities haven’t really changed since I joined OLCF in 2011 as Director of Science, but some of the requirements and priorities have changed. Our users are demanding new capabilities to support research in data analytics and artificial intelligence. I work to help users to take advantage of new technologies to address their new needs, such as Summit’s tensor core GPU architecture. Additionally, we’ve had to change policies over time. One notable example concerns our policies supporting high throughput computing. Our leadership computing program has embraced policies supporting large-scale ensembles of calculations that cannot be effectively completed on smaller resources, rather than one huge simulation.

HPCwire: This question is a little in line with the last. Expectations for leadership class machines are understandably high; one has the sense they are not intended just to attack previously less tractable problems, but rather they are expected to add foundational insight to science domains (including computational science). What’s the mechanism and criteria for picking projects and judging success? How do you assess projects and how often are course adjustments needed where you say, we probably should have taken this particular project?

The mechanisms and criteria for project selection in our user programs are based on scientific and technical merit as determined by peer review. Researchers in any scientific discipline can apply for time on OLCF resources through several allocation programs. The INCITE program—our flagship program— promotes transformational advances in science and engineering for computationally and/or data intensive, large- scale research projects through large allocations of computer time and data resources. Awards are made based on the quality and impact of the research and the suitability of the proposed simulations for the requested resources. INCITE employs a two-phase review process. Proposals are peer-reviewed by a domain-specific panel of national academy-class experts for scientific and technical merit and potential impact. The computational readiness of the proposal is also assessed to determine how effectively the project will use the requested system.

HPCwire: Generally speaking, what trends and/or technologies in high-performance computing do you see as particularly relevant for the next five years? Also, what’s your take on near-term prospects for quantum computing and neuromorphic technologies?

Of course, I’m extremely excited about the science results that will emerge from Summit’s users. Data analytics and machine learning integrated in creative fashion with modeling and simulation is growing within our user programs. It is clear that hybrid, accelerated computing technologies are a large part of this story, and I’m excited to see how far these new approaches can progress on Summit. A growing feature is the use of mixed precision floating-point operations implemented in new hardware to achieve new heights in performance.

Also very important is the development of performance-portable programming tool chain for scientific computing on accelerated node architectures. This development includes, the evolution of language extensions and frameworks; maturation of accelerated compiler directives such as OpenACC and OpenMP; and the emergence and adoption of library abstractions, such as Kokkos and Raja.

The Exascale Computing Project is under full steam now, and it will be exciting to see the hardened, production-scale software technologies and applications that will emerge on the time scale of our exascale machine, Frontier. ECP just completed a very successful Annual Meeting in Houston in January, and the gathering was very impressive. This is the most significant investment in applications and software technologies in my career, and it is truly a national-scale enterprise.

HPCwire: Outside of the professional sphere, what can you tell us about yourself – personal life, family, background, hobbies, etc.? Is there anything about you your colleagues might be surprised to learn?

My wife, a physician working for the U.S. Veterans Administration, and I have three kids in high school and a shelter dog. So, (big surprise!) life is very busy-fun. We enjoy cooking, travel, and hiking. I grew up in Prestonsburg KY, and I have the experience of working in coal mines during summer breaks during my college years.

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!

AWS Expands Worldwide Availability to AMD-based Instances

July 22, 2019

Setting aside potential setbacks caused by U.S. trade policies, the steady cadence of AMD’s revival in HPC and the datacenter continued last week with AWS expanding availability of its AMD Epyc-based instances. Recall Read more…

By Staff

Microsoft Investing $1B in OpenAI Artificial General Intelligence R&D

July 22, 2019

Artificial general intelligence (AGI) is AI’s moonshot, the next giant leap for the AI field. Microsoft regards it to be feasible enough to warrant a $1 billion investment in OpenAI, the not-for-profit research organi Read more…

By Doug Black

Researchers Use Supercomputing to Study Links Between Hurricanes and Climate Change

July 19, 2019

As climate change looms, researchers are scrambling to answer the question of how a warming planet will affect the frequency and severity of already-deadly hurricanes. Now, a team of researchers from the University of Il Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Bring the Combined Power of HPC and AI to Your Business Transformation

A growing number of commercial businesses are implementing HPC solutions to derive actionable business insights, to run higher performance applications and to gain a competitive advantage. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

With HPC the Future is Looking Grid

Gone are the days when problems such as unraveling genetic sequences or searching for extra-terrestrial life were solved using only a single high-performance computing (HPC) resource located at one facility. Read more…

San Diego Supercomputer Center to Welcome ‘Expanse’ Supercomputer in 2020

July 18, 2019

With a $10 million dollar award from the National Science Foundation, San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at the University of California San Diego is procuring a new supercomputer, called Expanse, to be deployed next Read more…

By Staff report

Microsoft Investing $1B in OpenAI Artificial General Intelligence R&D

July 22, 2019

Artificial general intelligence (AGI) is AI’s moonshot, the next giant leap for the AI field. Microsoft regards it to be feasible enough to warrant a $1 billi Read more…

By Doug Black

Informing Designs of Safer, More Efficient Aircraft with Exascale Computing

July 18, 2019

During the process of designing an aircraft, aeronautical engineers must perform predictive simulations to understand how airflow around the plane impacts fligh Read more…

By Rob Johnson

Intel Debuts Pohoiki Beach, Its 8M Neuron Neuromorphic Development System

July 17, 2019

Neuromorphic computing has received less fanfare of late than quantum computing whose mystery has captured public attention and which seems to have generated mo Read more…

By John Russell

Goonhilly Unveils New Immersion-Cooled Platform, Doubles Down on Sustainability Mission

July 16, 2019

Goonhilly Earth Station has opened its new datacenter – an enhancement to its existing tier 3 facility – in Cornwall, England, touting an ambitious commitme Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

ISC19 Cluster Competition: Application Results, Finally!

July 15, 2019

Our exhaustive coverage of the ISC19 Student Cluster Competition continues as we discuss the application scores below. While the scores were typically high, som Read more…

By Dan Olds

Nvidia Expands DGX-Ready AI Program to 19 Countries

July 11, 2019

Nvidia’s DGX-Ready Data Center Program, announced in January and designed to provide colo and public cloud-like options to access the company’s GPU-powered Read more…

By Doug Black

Argonne Team Makes Record Globus File Transfer

July 10, 2019

A team of scientists at Argonne National Laboratory has broken a data transfer record by moving a staggering 2.9 petabytes of data for a research project.  The data – from three large cosmological simulations – was generated and stored on the Summit supercomputer at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF)... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Nvidia, Google Tie in Second MLPerf Training ‘At-Scale’ Round

July 10, 2019

Results for the second round of the AI benchmarking suite known as MLPerf were published today with Google Cloud and Nvidia each picking up three wins in the at Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

High Performance (Potato) Chips

May 5, 2006

In this article, we focus on how Procter & Gamble is using high performance computing to create some common, everyday supermarket products. Tom Lange, a 27-year veteran of the company, tells us how P&G models products, processes and production systems for the betterment of consumer package goods. Read more…

By Michael Feldman

Cray, AMD to Extend DOE’s Exascale Frontier

May 7, 2019

Cray and AMD are coming back to Oak Ridge National Laboratory to partner on the world’s largest and most expensive supercomputer. The Department of Energy’s Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Graphene Surprises Again, This Time for Quantum Computing

May 8, 2019

Graphene is fascinating stuff with promise for use in a seeming endless number of applications. This month researchers from the University of Vienna and Institu Read more…

By John Russell

AMD Verifies Its Largest 7nm Chip Design in Ten Hours

June 5, 2019

AMD announced last week that its engineers had successfully executed the first physical verification of its largest 7nm chip design – in just ten hours. The AMD Radeon Instinct Vega20 – which boasts 13.2 billion transistors – was tested using a TSMC-certified Calibre nmDRC software platform from Mentor. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

TSMC and Samsung Moving to 5nm; Whither Moore’s Law?

June 12, 2019

With reports that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TMSC) and Samsung are moving quickly to 5nm manufacturing, it’s a good time to again ponder whither goes the venerable Moore’s law. Shrinking feature size has of course been the primary hallmark of achieving Moore’s law... Read more…

By John Russell

Deep Learning Competitors Stalk Nvidia

May 14, 2019

There is no shortage of processing architectures emerging to accelerate deep learning workloads, with two more options emerging this week to challenge GPU leader Nvidia. First, Intel researchers claimed a new deep learning record for image classification on the ResNet-50 convolutional neural network. Separately, Israeli AI chip startup Hailo.ai... Read more…

By George Leopold

Nvidia Embraces Arm, Declares Intent to Accelerate All CPU Architectures

June 17, 2019

As the Top500 list was being announced at ISC in Frankfurt today with an upgraded petascale Arm supercomputer in the top third of the list, Nvidia announced its Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Top500 Purely Petaflops; US Maintains Performance Lead

June 17, 2019

With the kick-off of the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) in Frankfurt this morning, the 53rd Top500 list made its debut, and this one's for petafl Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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 Launches Cascade Lake Xeons with Up to 56 Cores

April 2, 2019

At Intel's Data-Centric Innovation Day in San Francisco (April 2), the company unveiled its second-generation Xeon Scalable (Cascade Lake) family and debuted it Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Cray – and the Cray Brand – to Be Positioned at Tip of HPE’s HPC Spear

May 22, 2019

More so than with most acquisitions of this kind, HPE’s purchase of Cray for $1.3 billion, announced last week, seems to have elements of that overused, often Read more…

By Doug Black and Tiffany Trader

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Hardware That Powered the Black Hole Image

June 24, 2019

Two months ago, the first-ever image of a black hole took the internet by storm. A team of scientists took years to produce and verify the striking image – an Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Announcing four new HPC capabilities in Google Cloud Platform

April 15, 2019

When you’re running compute-bound or memory-bound applications for high performance computing or large, data-dependent machine learning training workloads on Read more…

By Wyatt Gorman, HPC Specialist, Google Cloud; Brad Calder, VP of Engineering, Google Cloud; Bart Sano, VP of Platforms, Google Cloud

Chinese Company Sugon Placed on US ‘Entity List’ After Strong Showing at International Supercomputing Conference

June 26, 2019

After more than a decade of advancing its supercomputing prowess, operating the world’s most powerful supercomputer from June 2013 to June 2018, China is keep Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

In Wake of Nvidia-Mellanox: Xilinx to Acquire Solarflare

April 25, 2019

With echoes of Nvidia’s recent acquisition of Mellanox, FPGA maker Xilinx has announced a definitive agreement to acquire Solarflare Communications, provider Read more…

By Doug Black

Qualcomm Invests in RISC-V Startup SiFive

June 7, 2019

Investors are zeroing in on the open standard RISC-V instruction set architecture and the processor intellectual property being developed by a batch of high-flying chip startups. Last fall, Esperanto Technologies announced a $58 million funding round. Read more…

By George Leopold

Nvidia Claims 6000x Speed-Up for Stock Trading Backtest Benchmark

May 13, 2019

A stock trading backtesting algorithm used by hedge funds to simulate trading variants has received a massive, GPU-based performance boost, according to Nvidia, Read more…

By Doug Black

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