Q&A with SC20 Chair Christine Cuicchi: HPCwire 2020 Person to Watch

By Tiffany Trader

November 12, 2020

In the following Q&A, Christine Cuicchi, SC20 Conference General Chair, discusses this year’s unifying theme (More Than HPC, see Nov. 16 plenary details), expounds on HPC trends, and walks us through the activities of her “day job” as director of the Navy DoD Supercomputing Resource Center. This featured interview – conducted at the beginning of the year before SC20’s transition to a digital event – is reprinted from our HPCwire 2020 People to Watch program as part of our SC20 coverage.

HPCwire: Hi Christine, congratulations on your selection as a 2020 HPCwire Person to Watch and, more importantly, as General Chair for SC20. Can you talk about your experience with the conference, where it’s been, and where you see it going?

Being a part of the SC planning committee has been an honor of mine for most of the past 20 years, starting with SC2001. Most of my SC positions have paralleled my career with the DoD—I volunteered largely in the technical program side for the first several years and then switched over to the more operational positions including infrastructure, communications, and exhibits. As we approach the conference’s 32nd year, the SC planning committee continues to focus on building a strong, relevant technical program, a vibrant exhibitor space, and a [email protected] program that will reach out to not only established HPC curricula but to the local Atlanta educational community as well. Our attendees often tell us that SC is the premier conference for networking with their peers in the HPC and HPC-related communities, and we are striving to attract a broad spectrum of professionals and students to the conference to ensure that there are quality opportunities to collaborate. Oh, and we plan to have food trucks nearby, too. Collaborating is hard work!

HPCwire: We’ve seen that the theme for SC20 is “More Than HPC.” Why was this theme was chosen and what do you hope to inspire in the community?

For SC20 we want to focus on not just high performance computing itself but what drives it—the problems we’re trying to solve, the questions we’re hoping to answer, and the people and underpinnings that make every supercomputer accessible. We’re renewing a focus on the State of the Practice to give those who work behind the scenes the chance to share their wealth of knowledge with three full days of dedicated State of the Practice sessions. We’re also launching two initiatives to expose students to HPC and include them in the conference: the first is the HPC Immersion program which will provide a chance for conference engagement and involvement in HPC and HPC-related communities to undergraduate students who are traditionally underrepresented in these fields. The second is the HPC in the City program, which will engage leaders, decision-makers, educators, and students in the greater Atlanta area to work together and combine our collective talents and HPC capabilities to address problems that are relevant to the local community. More than HPC is meant to inspire cross-collaboration among all the communities involved in supercomputing, and remind us that our many viewpoints can combine to create some terrific advancements for the world around us.

HPCwire: Can you give us a peek into your world as the Navy DoD Supercomputing Resource Center Director and what your role entails? How has the landscape changed for HPC since you’ve been there?

While I first began working in the DoD High Performance Computing Modernization Program (HPCMP) as a computational engineer in 1997, in 2013 I decided to take a leap into the operational and managerial side of the program as the HPCMP’s Associate Director for HPC Centers. In that role I led 350 people—none of whom worked directly for me—in the management, budgeting, and operation of five DoD Supercomputing Resource Centers (DSRCs) across the country. It was great preparation for the role of SC General Chair, in which I lead a team of over 600 people—none of whom work directly for me, either! In early 2019 I was able to come back to my ‘home’ center at the Navy DSRC as the director. This role has afforded me a bit more time to focus on strategic planning for the DSRC, which is challenging in the landscape of constrained budgets and merging US-based HPC vendors. I’m pleased to report that our most recent strategic decision landed us a Cray Shasta that at 290,304 cores and 12.8 theoretical peak PFLOPs will be the largest system the HPCMP has procured to date, and the first HPCMP system to best the 10 PFLOP threshold. None of this is possible without the extraordinary team at the Navy DSRC, whom I’m honored to lead.

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?

It seems that HPC is always on the edge of an electrifying advancement, but we will soon enter a truly new era of computing. Exascale systems will arrive in the next year or two, opening the door for many innovations in materials science, precision medicine, additive manufacturing, and weather prediction, just to name a few. While exciting, we will also experience a notable increase in complexity, and more than a few anxious pangs as we consider industry’s plans to build the next era of systems. The eventual end of Silicon CMOS shrinking has prompted some to suggest quantum and neuromorphic computing as a logical next step. These technologies, however, only address a narrow set of problems, particularly over the near-term.

HPCwire: What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM and what advice would you give to young people wishing to follow in your footsteps?

The short story is that I was exposed to STEM fields very early. The longer story is that my parents taught physics, computer science, and gifted classes in public school after both were in the co-op program with NASA during the moonshot; my father worked on the space shuttle structure and my mother was a computer programmer. In 1984 she bought us an Apple IIe and started teaching my brother and me how to program at the ages of 9 and 12, and well, here we are. For young people who are interested in STEM today, the standard advice about building a good, strong base of critical thinking skills and problem-solving abilities applies. But I most strongly advocate for learning how to communicate effectively to audiences of all types, because the better you are able to advocate for your project, your knowledge, and your abilities, the better chance you have of making a meaningful impact in your field.

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?

I grew up in an Army family and have lived in Mississippi most of my life, spending the last twenty years on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Most colleagues would probably be surprised to know that I enjoy Cajun, Zydeco, and West Coast Swing dancing—they already know that I love a good Mardi Gras parade and am a huge Mississippi State University sports fan. I also enjoy being the wacky aunt to my two darling nephews and regaling friends with stories of the often colorful characters and situations I encounter while traveling.

HPCwire: More on Christine

Christine Cuicchi is director of the Navy Department of Defense Supercomputing Resource Center (Navy DSRC), operated by the Commander, Naval Oceanography and Meteorology Command (CNMOC) on behalf of the DoD High Performance Computing Modernization Program (DoD HPCMP). She leads the DSRC in the operation of $55M of supercomputing capability and the attendant storage, networks, and computational expertise which are available to over 2,500 DoD RDT&E, S&T, and acquisition professionals. Prior to her current position, Cuicchi was the Associate Director for HPC Centers for the DoD HPCMP, responsible for managing five DSRCs with an annual RDT&E budget of $100M and a government and contractor workforce composed of approximately 350 people. She was also responsible for an annual HPC system acquisition process of $50-60M. Cuicchi received both her bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering and her master’s degree in Computational Engineering from Mississippi State University. In 2017 she received the U.S. Department of the Navy’s Meritorious Civilian Service Award.

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!

What’s New in Computing vs. COVID-19: SC20 Edition

November 30, 2020

Supercomputing, big data and artificial intelligence are crucial tools in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Around the world, researchers, corporations and governments are urgently devoting their computing reso Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

GENCI Supercomputer Simulation Illuminates the Dark Universe

November 30, 2020

What we can see and touch are, in the scheme of the universe, relatively minor components, with visible matter and tangible mass constituting just 16 percent of the universe’s mass and 30 percent of its energy, respect Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

The Present and Future of AI: A Discussion with HPC Visionary Dr. Eng Lim Goh

November 27, 2020

As HPE’s chief technology officer for artificial intelligence, Dr. Eng Lim Goh devotes much of his time talking and consulting with enterprise customers about how AI can benefit their business operations and products. Read more…

By Todd R. Weiss

SC20 Panel – OK, You Hate Storage Tiering. What’s Next Then?

November 25, 2020

Tiering in HPC storage has a bad rep. No one likes it. It complicates things and slows I/O. At least one storage technology newcomer – VAST Data – advocates dumping the whole idea. One large-scale user, NERSC storage architect Glenn Lockwood sort of agrees. The challenge, of course, is that tiering... Read more…

By John Russell

Exscalate4CoV Runs 70 Billion-Molecule Coronavirus Simulation

November 25, 2020

The winds of the pandemic are changing – for better and for worse. Three viable vaccines now teeter on the brink of regulatory approval, which will pave the way for broad distribution by April or May. But until then, COVID-19 cases are skyrocketing across the U.S. and Europe... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

AWS Solution Channel

Add storage to your high-performance file system with a single click and meet your scalability needs

Many organizations have on-premises, high-performance workloads burdened with complex management and scalability challenges. Scaling data-intensive workloads on-premises typically involves purchasing more hardware, which can slow time to production and require high upfront investment. Read more…

Intel® HPC + AI Pavilion

Intel Keynote Address

Intel is the foundation of HPC – from the workstation to the cloud to the backbone of the Top500. At SC20, Intel’s Trish Damkroger, VP and GM of high performance computing, addresses the audience to show how Intel and its partners are building the future of HPC today, through hardware and software technologies that accelerate the broad deployment of advanced HPC systems. Read more…

Azure Scaled to Record 86,400 Cores for Molecular Dynamics

November 20, 2020

A new record for HPC scaling on the public cloud has been achieved on Microsoft Azure. Led by Dr. Jer-Ming Chia, the cloud provider partnered with the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the Universi Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

The Present and Future of AI: A Discussion with HPC Visionary Dr. Eng Lim Goh

November 27, 2020

As HPE’s chief technology officer for artificial intelligence, Dr. Eng Lim Goh devotes much of his time talking and consulting with enterprise customers about Read more…

By Todd R. Weiss

SC20 Panel – OK, You Hate Storage Tiering. What’s Next Then?

November 25, 2020

Tiering in HPC storage has a bad rep. No one likes it. It complicates things and slows I/O. At least one storage technology newcomer – VAST Data – advocates dumping the whole idea. One large-scale user, NERSC storage architect Glenn Lockwood sort of agrees. The challenge, of course, is that tiering... Read more…

By John Russell

Exscalate4CoV Runs 70 Billion-Molecule Coronavirus Simulation

November 25, 2020

The winds of the pandemic are changing – for better and for worse. Three viable vaccines now teeter on the brink of regulatory approval, which will pave the way for broad distribution by April or May. But until then, COVID-19 cases are skyrocketing across the U.S. and Europe... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Azure Scaled to Record 86,400 Cores for Molecular Dynamics

November 20, 2020

A new record for HPC scaling on the public cloud has been achieved on Microsoft Azure. Led by Dr. Jer-Ming Chia, the cloud provider partnered with the Beckman I Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Gordon Bell Prize Winner Breaks Ground in AI-Infused Ab Initio Simulation

November 20, 2020

The race to blend deep learning and first-principle simulation to speed up solutions and scale up problems tackled is one of the most exciting research areas in computational science today. This year’s ACM Gordon Bell Prize winner announced today at SC20 makes significant progress in that direction. Read more…

By John Russell

Gordon Bell Special Prize Goes to Massive SARS-CoV-2 Simulations

November 19, 2020

2020 has proven a harrowing year – but it has produced remarkable heroes. To that end, this year, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) introduced the Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

SC20 Keynote: Climate, Exascale & the Ultimate Answer

November 19, 2020

SC20’s keynote was delivered by renowned meteorologist and climatologist Bjorn Stevens, a director at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology since 2008 and a professor at the University of Hamburg. In his keynote, Stevens traced the history of climate science from its earliest days through... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

EuroHPC Exec. Dir. Talks Procurement, EPI, and Europe’s Efforts to Control its HPC Destiny

November 19, 2020

While much of the HPC community’s attention is fixed on SC20’s flood of news and new product announcements, Anders Dam Jensen, the newly-minted executive di Read more…

By Steve Conway

Nvidia Said to Be Close on Arm Deal

August 3, 2020

GPU leader Nvidia Corp. is in talks to buy U.K. chip designer Arm from parent company Softbank, according to several reports over the weekend. If consummated Read more…

By George Leopold

Supercomputer-Powered Research Uncovers Signs of ‘Bradykinin Storm’ That May Explain COVID-19 Symptoms

July 28, 2020

Doctors and medical researchers have struggled to pinpoint – let alone explain – the deluge of symptoms induced by COVID-19 infections in patients, and what Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Azure Scaled to Record 86,400 Cores for Molecular Dynamics

November 20, 2020

A new record for HPC scaling on the public cloud has been achieved on Microsoft Azure. Led by Dr. Jer-Ming Chia, the cloud provider partnered with the Beckman I Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Google Hires Longtime Intel Exec Bill Magro to Lead HPC Strategy

September 18, 2020

In a sign of the times, another prominent HPCer has made a move to a hyperscaler. Longtime Intel executive Bill Magro joined Google as chief technologist for hi Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Keeps Cray Brand Promise, Reveals HPE Cray Supercomputing Line

August 4, 2020

The HPC community, ever-affectionate toward Cray and its eponymous founder, can breathe a (virtual) sigh of relief. The Cray brand will live on, encompassing th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

10nm, 7nm, 5nm…. Should the Chip Nanometer Metric Be Replaced?

June 1, 2020

The biggest cool factor in server chips is the nanometer. AMD beating Intel to a CPU built on a 7nm process node* – with 5nm and 3nm on the way – has been i Read more…

By Doug Black

NICS Unleashes ‘Kraken’ Supercomputer

April 4, 2008

A Cray XT4 supercomputer, dubbed Kraken, is scheduled to come online in mid-summer at the National Institute for Computational Sciences (NICS). The soon-to-be petascale system, and the resulting NICS organization, are the result of an NSF Track II award of $65 million to the University of Tennessee and its partners to provide next-generation supercomputing for the nation's science community. Read more…

Is the Nvidia A100 GPU Performance Worth a Hardware Upgrade?

October 16, 2020

Over the last decade, accelerators have seen an increasing rate of adoption in high-performance computing (HPC) platforms, and in the June 2020 Top500 list, eig Read more…

By Hartwig Anzt, Ahmad Abdelfattah and Jack Dongarra

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

Aurora’s Troubles Move Frontier into Pole Exascale Position

October 1, 2020

Intel’s 7nm node delay has raised questions about the status of the Aurora supercomputer that was scheduled to be stood up at Argonne National Laboratory next year. Aurora was in the running to be the United States’ first exascale supercomputer although it was on a contemporaneous timeline with... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

European Commission Declares €8 Billion Investment in Supercomputing

September 18, 2020

Just under two years ago, the European Commission formalized the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking (JU): a concerted HPC effort (comprising 32 participating states at c Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Top500: Fugaku Keeps Crown, Nvidia’s Selene Climbs to #5

November 16, 2020

With the publication of the 56th Top500 list today from SC20's virtual proceedings, Japan's Fugaku supercomputer – now fully deployed – notches another win, Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Texas A&M Announces Flagship ‘Grace’ Supercomputer

November 9, 2020

Texas A&M University has announced its next flagship system: Grace. The new supercomputer, named for legendary programming pioneer Grace Hopper, is replacing the Ada system (itself named for mathematician Ada Lovelace) as the primary workhorse for Texas A&M’s High Performance Research Computing (HPRC). Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

At Oak Ridge, ‘End of Life’ Sometimes Isn’t

October 31, 2020

Sometimes, the old dog actually does go live on a farm. HPC systems are often cursed with short lifespans, as they are continually supplanted by the latest and Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Nvidia and EuroHPC Team for Four Supercomputers, Including Massive ‘Leonardo’ System

October 15, 2020

The EuroHPC Joint Undertaking (JU) serves as Europe’s concerted supercomputing play, currently comprising 32 member states and billions of euros in funding. I Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Microsoft Azure Adds A100 GPU Instances for ‘Supercomputer-Class AI’ in the Cloud

August 19, 2020

Microsoft Azure continues to infuse its cloud platform with HPC- and AI-directed technologies. Today the cloud services purveyor announced a new virtual machine Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia-Arm Deal a Boon for RISC-V?

October 26, 2020

The $40 billion blockbuster acquisition deal that will bring chipmaker Arm into the Nvidia corporate family could provide a boost for the competing RISC-V architecture. As regulators in the U.S., China and the European Union begin scrutinizing the impact of the blockbuster deal on semiconductor industry competition and innovation, the deal has at the very least... Read more…

By George Leopold

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