Q&A with Candace Culhane, SC22 General Chair and an HPCwire Person to Watch in 2022

By HPCwire Editorial Team

May 14, 2022

HPCwire is pleased to present our interview with SC22 General Chair Candace Culhane, program/project director at Los Alamos National Lab and an HPCwire 2022 Person to Watch. In this exclusive Q&A, Culhane covers her history with conference and previews what’s in store for the conference’s return to Dallas, November 13–18, 2022. Read on as Culhane weaves a thread from ATTACK OF THE KILLER MICROS to the SC22 theme of “HPC Accelerates” to her view of the HPC landscape from Los Alamos.

Congratulations on your selection as a 2022 HPCwire Person to Watch and, more importantly, as General Chair for SC22. Can you talk about your experience with the conference, where it’s been, and where you see it going?

The SC conference series is powered by an amazing community of volunteers and a cadre of professional experts who work hard every year to bring the SC Conference to vibrant life. It’s a real pleasure to work with this community, solving problems and exploring new concepts. Each day I get exposed to challenges that are being solved by these wonderful people working together.

My first SC was in 1992 in Minneapolis, and it was dazzling. It was also a time of disruptive change in the industry, as had been previewed by Eugene Brooks when he gave his talk on ATTACK OF THE KILLER MICROS at Supercomputing 1990. The industry was transformed during the 1990s with the rise of massively parallel processing (MPPs) and then it grew steadily to the cadence of Moore’s Law. The breadth and width of programming and things to see at SC grew as well with attendance figures at SC increasing year after year.

Just three years ago we were in Denver, with our largest attendee numbers ever. Then the pandemic came upon us and SC20 had to blaze a trail into the virtual world, which they did with élan. Not only did SC20 deliver a virtual conference on schedule, they were able to offer all the aspects of the conference, including technical papers, panels, exhibits, BOFs, Tutorials and Workshops – this was a tremendous accomplishment. SC21 built upon this success, returning with both a physical in person conference and a virtual experience, exceeding everyone’s expectations.

Going forward, you can expect that SC will remain committed to both an outstanding in person conference and a digital experience for those who are unable to attend in person. SC will remain *the* conference to see it all when it comes to HPC, and to see where HPC is going.

We’ve seen that the theme for SC22 is “HPC Accelerates.” Why was this theme chosen and what do you hope to inspire in the community?

Life is change. We’ve all heard that, right? Expect the unexpected. We’ve heard that too. And we’ve all seen plenty of both of these things all around us in these interesting times. People and organizations want answers, solutions, and insight right now. The pressure to deliver results is unprecedented. How can HPC answer this call?

The theme of HPC Accelerates is meant to capture the dizzying pace we are all working at these days. The application of big systems and new software stacks is answering questions and crunching data faster than ever before, and anyone who works in this field knows that this trend is going to continue to accelerate all around us.

There’s another aspect of HPC Accelerates, and that is the rise of novel computing structures that can accelerate the time to solution for some problems faster than conventional computing substrates. These structures and substrates can run the gamut from the now familiar GPU processors to novel ones ranging from neural network chips to quantum computing systems.

Our hope is to inspire everyone in the community to see themselves and their work hi-lited, and to come learn about things they haven’t tried yet. Everyone wants to deliver results faster, and HPC Accelerates to accomplish this goal.

Can you give us a peek into your role at Los Alamos and what that role entails? How has the landscape changed for HPC since you’ve been there?

I’m a Program/Project Manager in the Associate Lab Directorate for Simulation and Computation. In this role, I oversee studies and build relationships. I represent Los Alamos National Laboratory in several areas, including as a steering member of the Chesapeake Large Scale Analytics Conference, co-leading the Quantum Initiative for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), founding member of the IEEE Quantum Computing and Engineering Conference, member of the HPC User Forum Steering Committee, the Quantum Economic Development Consortium, and the Council on Competitiveness, in addition to serving the SC community.

HPC is an active discipline, growing and continuing to evolve, becoming more heterogeneous. In the old days, HPC was sometimes referred to as “Big Iron.” Well, HPC systems have certainly gotten big. But they’re much more than just iron, exploring architectures beyond RISC microprocessors, investigating new computational substrates such as neural net-based computers, quantum computers, and expanding the usage of HPC beyond scientific simulation into machine learning and AI. The challenge of programming and managing these systems has grown substantially, and LANL is a great environment for people to take on these new challenges, learning new programming models and developing new algorithms, like the work that LANL is leading on Quantum Algorithms as part of the Quantum Science Center.

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

My inspiration to follow a STEM career came from my parents and my teachers. My parents were strong believers in education. My father had a PhD in Chemistry and my mother had a Master’s degree in Music Education. They set high academic expectations and I did well in school, including being a National Merit Scholar. I had some wonderful Science and Math teachers in Junior and Senior high school, and my high school offered a computer programming class my senior year. We had tremendous fun programming a DEC PDP 8e in BASIC (with paper tape) which got me interested in studying computer science. The 1970s were an interesting time, my college computer science classes were half women, half men and that seemed very natural and unremarkable.

My advice to young people today is to talk with people you know and respect about their STEM careers. Ask their advice, and seek their encouragement. Find a subject that really interests you, and delve into it. It will be fun, but it will also be hard work. And it comes with a wonderful sense of satisfaction as you come to deeply understand the subject you are studying.

Outside of the professional sphere, what can you tell us about yourself – unique hobbies, favorite places, etc.? Is there anything about you your colleagues might be surprised to learn?

I have a lifelong love of music, both singing and playing instruments, including the flute, hammered dulcimer and bass guitar. I also enjoy skiing, cooking, crochet and urban hiking around Washington, DC. My colleagues may or may not be surprised to learn that I recently earned a second MS degree, this one is in Data Analytics. There’s always something new to learn!

Culhane is one of 12 HPCwire People to Watch for 2022. You can read the interviews with the other honorees at this link.

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 HPC Research: ROBE, OpenMP Automated Scheduling, SCALSALE, & More

October 6, 2022

In this regular feature, HPCwire highlights newly published research in the high-performance computing community and related domains. From parallel programming to exascale to quantum computing, the details are here. Read more…

China Expands Quantum Computing Development Push says Report

October 6, 2022

The drumbeat around development of quantum computing continues to grow in mainstream media, as evidenced by a report in today’s Wall Street Journal (China Seeks a Quantum Leap in Computing). While timelines for practic Read more…

Intel Is Opening up Its Chip Factories to Academia

October 6, 2022

Intel is opening up its fabs for academic institutions so researchers can get their hands on physical versions of its chips, with the end goal of boosting semiconductor research and development. The effort, called the Read more…

NCSA’s Delta System Enters Full Production

October 5, 2022

In June 2020, the NSF awarded the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) $10 million for its post-Blue Waters “Delta” supercomputer. Now, that funding has come to fruition: NCSA has announced that Del Read more…

GM, National Labs Pave the Way for Next-Gen Vehicles

October 5, 2022

For the better part of a century, General Motors (GM) was the biggest automaker in the world. Now, amid a paradigm shift toward smarter, electrified vehicles, the leading American automaker is working to meet the moment Read more…

AWS Solution Channel

Shutterstock 242193979

Last Chance to Vote – AWS for Best Use of HPC in the 2022 Readers’ Choice Awards

AWS Once Again Showcasing its Reach Across Several Areas in HPC

Ten categories feature Amazon Web Services (AWS) in the 2022 HPCwire Readers’ Choice Awards. Read more…

Microsoft/NVIDIA Solution Channel

Shutterstock 1166887495

Improving Insurance Fraud Detection using AI Running on Cloud-based GPU-Accelerated Systems

Insurance is a highly regulated industry that is evolving as the industry faces changing customer expectations, massive amounts of data, and increased regulations. A major issue facing the industry is tracking insurance fraud. Read more…

Quantum Computing Needs More Public-Private Collaboration Says QED-C

October 4, 2022

Last week the Quantum Economic Development Consortium (QED-C) released a new report – Public-Private Partnerships in Quantum Computing – that calls for increased government-commercial collaboration, broadly describes Read more…

Intel Is Opening up Its Chip Factories to Academia

October 6, 2022

Intel is opening up its fabs for academic institutions so researchers can get their hands on physical versions of its chips, with the end goal of boosting semic Read more…

GM, National Labs Pave the Way for Next-Gen Vehicles

October 5, 2022

For the better part of a century, General Motors (GM) was the biggest automaker in the world. Now, amid a paradigm shift toward smarter, electrified vehicles, t Read more…

Quantum Computing Needs More Public-Private Collaboration Says QED-C

October 4, 2022

Last week the Quantum Economic Development Consortium (QED-C) released a new report – Public-Private Partnerships in Quantum Computing – that calls for incr Read more…

How Intel Plans to Rebuild Its Manufacturing Supply Chain

September 29, 2022

Intel's engineering roots saw a revival at this week's Innovation, with attendees recalling the show’s resemblance to Intel Developer Forum, the company's ann Read more…

Intel Labs Launches Neuromorphic ‘Kapoho Point’ Board

September 28, 2022

Over the past five years, Intel has been iterating on its neuromorphic chips and systems, aiming to create devices (and software for those devices) that closely Read more…

HPE to Build 100+ Petaflops Shaheen III Supercomputer

September 27, 2022

The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia has announced that HPE has won the bid to build the Shaheen III supercomputer. Sh Read more…

Intel’s New Programmable Chips Next Year to Replace Aging Products

September 27, 2022

Intel shared its latest roadmap of programmable chips, and doesn't want to dig itself into a hole by following AMD's strategy in the area.  "We're thankfully not matching their strategy," said Shannon Poulin, corporate vice president for the datacenter and AI group at Intel, in response to a question posed by HPCwire during a press briefing. The updated roadmap pieces together Intel's strategy for FPGAs... Read more…

Intel Ships Sapphire Rapids – to Its Cloud

September 27, 2022

Intel has had trouble getting its chips in the hands of customers on time, but is providing the next best thing – to try out those chips in the cloud. Delayed chips such as Sapphire Rapids server processors and Habana Gaudi 2 AI chip will be available on a platform called the Intel Developer Cloud, which was announced at the Intel Innovation event being held in San Jose, California. Read more…

Nvidia Shuts Out RISC-V Software Support for GPUs 

September 23, 2022

Nvidia is not interested in bringing software support to its GPUs for the RISC-V architecture despite being an early adopter of the open-source technology in its GPU controllers. Nvidia has no plans to add RISC-V support for CUDA, which is the proprietary GPU software platform, a company representative... Read more…

AWS Takes the Short and Long View of Quantum Computing

August 30, 2022

It is perhaps not surprising that the big cloud providers – a poor term really – have jumped into quantum computing. Amazon, Microsoft Azure, Google, and th Read more…

US Senate Passes CHIPS Act Temperature Check, but Challenges Linger

July 19, 2022

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday passed a major hurdle that will open up close to $52 billion in grants for the semiconductor industry to boost manufacturing, supply chain and research and development. U.S. senators voted 64-34 in favor of advancing the CHIPS Act, which sets the stage for the final consideration... Read more…

Chinese Startup Biren Details BR100 GPU

August 22, 2022

Amid the high-performance GPU turf tussle between AMD and Nvidia (and soon, Intel), a new, China-based player is emerging: Biren Technology, founded in 2019 and headquartered in Shanghai. At Hot Chips 34, Biren co-founder and president Lingjie Xu and Biren CTO Mike Hong took the (virtual) stage to detail the company’s inaugural product: the Biren BR100 general-purpose GPU (GPGPU). “It is my honor to present... Read more…

Tesla Bulks Up Its GPU-Powered AI Super – Is Dojo Next?

August 16, 2022

Tesla has revealed that its biggest in-house AI supercomputer – which we wrote about last year – now has a total of 7,360 A100 GPUs, a nearly 28 percent uplift from its previous total of 5,760 GPUs. That’s enough GPU oomph for a top seven spot on the Top500, although the tech company best known for its electric vehicles has not publicly benchmarked the system. If it had, it would... Read more…

AMD’s MI300 APUs to Power Exascale El Capitan Supercomputer

June 21, 2022

Additional details of the architecture of the exascale El Capitan supercomputer were disclosed today by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s (LLNL) Terri Read more…

Exclusive Inside Look at First US Exascale Supercomputer

July 1, 2022

HPCwire takes you inside the Frontier datacenter at DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Oak Ridge, Tenn., for an interview with Frontier Project Direc Read more…

AMD Opens Up Chip Design to the Outside for Custom Future

June 15, 2022

AMD is getting personal with chips as it sets sail to make products more to the liking of its customers. The chipmaker detailed a modular chip future in which customers can mix and match non-AMD processors in a custom chip package. "We are focused on making it easier to implement chips with more flexibility," said Mark Papermaster, chief technology officer at AMD during the analyst day meeting late last week. Read more…

Leading Solution Providers


Nvidia, Intel to Power Atos-Built MareNostrum 5 Supercomputer

June 16, 2022

The long-troubled, hotly anticipated MareNostrum 5 supercomputer finally has a vendor: Atos, which will be supplying a system that includes both Nvidia and Inte Read more…

UCIe Consortium Incorporates, Nvidia and Alibaba Round Out Board

August 2, 2022

The Universal Chiplet Interconnect Express (UCIe) consortium is moving ahead with its effort to standardize a universal interconnect at the package level. The c Read more…

Using Exascale Supercomputers to Make Clean Fusion Energy Possible

September 2, 2022

Fusion, the nuclear reaction that powers the Sun and the stars, has incredible potential as a source of safe, carbon-free and essentially limitless energy. But Read more…

Is Time Running Out for Compromise on America COMPETES/USICA Act?

June 22, 2022

You may recall that efforts proposed in 2020 to remake the National Science Foundation (Endless Frontier Act) have since expanded and morphed into two gigantic bills, the America COMPETES Act in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act in the U.S. Senate. So far, efforts to reconcile the two pieces of legislation have snagged and recent reports... Read more…

Nvidia, Qualcomm Shine in MLPerf Inference; Intel’s Sapphire Rapids Makes an Appearance.

September 8, 2022

The steady maturation of MLCommons/MLPerf as an AI benchmarking tool was apparent in today’s release of MLPerf v2.1 Inference results. Twenty-one organization Read more…

Not Just Cash for Chips – The New Chips and Science Act Boosts NSF, DOE, NIST

August 3, 2022

After two-plus years of contentious debate, several different names, and final passage by the House (243-187) and Senate (64-33) last week, the Chips and Science Act will soon become law. Besides the $54.2 billion provided to boost US-based chip manufacturing, the act reshapes US science policy in meaningful ways. NSF’s proposed budget... Read more…

AMD Lines Up Alternate Chips as It Eyes a ‘Post-exaflops’ Future

June 10, 2022

Close to a decade ago, AMD was in turmoil. The company was playing second fiddle to Intel in PCs and datacenters, and its road to profitability hinged mostly on Read more…

RISC-V Opens the Door on 48-bit Computing

July 7, 2022

There’s a growing interest among silicon providers backing RISC-V to introduce 48-bit computing in custom chips to meet their specific requirements. The 48-bit long instructions focus is more as a middle ground between 32-bit and 64-bit, which has largely been the focus of chips and instruction sets until now. Read more…

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow