OLCF Deputy Project Director Organizing Massive Effort to Install Frontier on Schedule

May 6, 2021

May 6, 2021 — Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (OLCF) “Pioneering Frontier” series features stories profiling the many talented ORNL employees behind the construction and operation of the OLCF’s incoming exascale supercomputer, Frontier. The HPE Cray system is scheduled for delivery in 2021, with full user operations in 2022.

Matt Sieger has the sort of job that would intimidate ordinary project managers. As deputy project director at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) OLCF, he is on the frontlines of the multiyear effort to install the Frontier supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). Fortunately, Sieger truly enjoys the nitty-gritty of keeping big projects organized: taking lots of meetings, producing numerous reports, and adhering to a myriad of federal requirements.

On paper, Sieger assists OLCF Program Director Justin Whitt as his right-hand manager. On the ground, he makes sure the Frontier team stays on track to hit its milestones for siting the nation’s first exascale system—which will exceed a quintillion, or 1018, calculations per second—by the end of 2021. This means Sieger must closely monitor the day-to-day progress of a multimillion-dollar government construction project that will produce one of the world’s most powerful and smartest scientific supercomputers. To do that, he heads the team of project support staff that analyzes data streams from all the departments associated with Frontier’s preparation and finds solutions to problems before they cause delays.

“I see my job as enabling other people to be effective by helping to build good management processes and removing roadblocks from their paths—just keeping our focus on the most important things and not getting too wrapped around the axle for issues that are just distractions,” Sieger said. “We have a lot riding on Frontier, from the National Strategic Computing Initiative to the Exascale Computing Project. So we’re under a tremendous amount of pressure to get this thing in on schedule.”

Despite extensive preplanning for every foreseeable contingency, there will always be unexpected threats to the schedule, from delays in obtaining particular components to workers that must quarantine due to COVID-19. “A lot of project management is setting things up to handle everything that you know about, but there’s going to be 15 things you didn’t expect that are going to come and try to get you,” Sieger said. And it’s those problems that get him thinking.

“When you look at a project or any big enterprise, of course there are going to be problems. I always find myself analyzing them: Where did they come from? Why did we have that problem? How do we change ourselves so that we can prevent that problem from happening in the future?” Sieger said. “I realize a lot of satisfaction from making little improvements to how we do things that prevent future problems or makes something easier. I like organizing things, and I really like it when things run smoothly.”

OLCF Deputy Project Director Matt Sieger overseeing Frontier supercomputer construction. Photo by Carlos Jones / ORNL.

Sieger joined the Frontier project about 3 years ago. He had spent the previous 7 years at ORNL as a quality manager working in a variety of areas, including the Spallation Neutron Source, Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors, and the Nuclear Science and Engineering Directorate. Although he gained valuable experience in assembling quality assurance plans and structuring projects and processes, his earlier career as a software architect is what really inspired him to find satisfaction in the art of organization. He sees similarities between designing software to efficiently complete a task and creating an action plan to effectively tackle a big job.

But enabling the human effort underlying a $500 million federally funded project demands more than just good organizational skills. It also requires strict adherence to DOE directives for managing projects of this scale, ensuring compliance with applicable laws and regulations, and meeting DOE’s expectations for cost and schedule. Sieger keeps all of those directives in mind with every decision made by the Frontier team.

“Project management within DOE is almost its own subculture. There’s an order from DOE called Order 413.3—it has hundreds of pages and a galaxy of guidance documents associated with it that gives us our marching orders. We have to manage this project to this set of standards.”

Whether the Frontier team has been doing a good job of meeting those standards is put to the test each year when the DOE’s Office of Project Assessment conducts an independent project review (IPR) of the entire Frontier effort. Over the course of 3 days, experts from other DOE facilities and offices receive presentations from Frontier’s project managers about their progress—and then the inspectors essentially interrogate them on every aspect of the project’s status. IPRs often result in a list of recommendations to help improve the project. With its last two IPRs, the Frontier team received no recommendations at all—an achievement that Sieger credits to the project staff and their overall approach to the project.

“We’ve got outstanding people here, and one of the key things about how we manage this project is taking the philosophy of constantly being ‘review ready.’ We’re always working to keep metrics, documents, costs, and schedules up to date,” Sieger said. “It’s discipline, like brushing your teeth, but it really helps us in reviews. Having done our homework and having always tried to do the right thing, we have more confidence that things are going to go smoothly.”

For someone responsible for making sure the nation’s first exascale supercomputer successfully launches on schedule, Sieger is a surprisingly easygoing fellow whose wry humor makes his 25 or so virtual meetings per week go smoothly. “I have to say I actually like virtual meetings because it’s easier to get ahold of people,” he insists.

Perhaps the key to his Zen demeanor lies in his primary hobby: playing music. But not with a musical instrument, per se.

“I’m a house and techno DJ. I’ve done music mixing since the ’80s—a long time ago!” Sieger confesses. “In my basement at home, I’ve got a nightclub with lights and sound and mixing decks. I just enjoy doing that. So I spend a lot of time offline just listening to new music, collecting new music, playing music.”

UT-Battelle LLC manages Oak Ridge National Laboratory for DOE’s Office of Science, the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. DOE’s Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://energy.gov/science.


Source: COURY TURCZYN, OLCF

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industry updates delivered to you every week!

Google Announces Sixth-generation AI Chip, a TPU Called Trillium

May 17, 2024

On Tuesday May 14th, Google announced its sixth-generation TPU (tensor processing unit) called Trillium.  The chip, essentially a TPU v6, is the company's latest weapon in the AI battle with GPU maker Nvidia and clou Read more…

ISC 2024 Student Cluster Competition

May 16, 2024

The 2024 ISC 2024 competition welcomed 19 virtual (remote) and eight in-person teams. The in-person teams participated in the conference venue and, while the virtual teams competed using the Bridges-2 supercomputers at t Read more…

Grace Hopper Gets Busy with Science 

May 16, 2024

Nvidia’s new Grace Hopper Superchip (GH200) processor has landed in nine new worldwide systems. The GH200 is a recently announced chip from Nvidia that eliminates the PCI bus from the CPU/GPU communications pathway.  Read more…

Europe’s Race towards Quantum-HPC Integration and Quantum Advantage

May 16, 2024

What an interesting panel, Quantum Advantage — Where are We and What is Needed? While the panelists looked slightly weary — their’s was, after all, one of the last panels at ISC 2024 — the discussion was fascinat Read more…

The Future of AI in Science

May 15, 2024

AI is one of the most transformative and valuable scientific tools ever developed. By harnessing vast amounts of data and computational power, AI systems can uncover patterns, generate insights, and make predictions that Read more…

Some Reasons Why Aurora Didn’t Take First Place in the Top500 List

May 15, 2024

The makers of the Aurora supercomputer, which is housed at the Argonne National Laboratory, gave some reasons why the system didn't make the top spot on the Top500 list of the fastest supercomputers in the world. At s Read more…

Google Announces Sixth-generation AI Chip, a TPU Called Trillium

May 17, 2024

On Tuesday May 14th, Google announced its sixth-generation TPU (tensor processing unit) called Trillium.  The chip, essentially a TPU v6, is the company's l Read more…

Europe’s Race towards Quantum-HPC Integration and Quantum Advantage

May 16, 2024

What an interesting panel, Quantum Advantage — Where are We and What is Needed? While the panelists looked slightly weary — their’s was, after all, one of Read more…

The Future of AI in Science

May 15, 2024

AI is one of the most transformative and valuable scientific tools ever developed. By harnessing vast amounts of data and computational power, AI systems can un Read more…

Some Reasons Why Aurora Didn’t Take First Place in the Top500 List

May 15, 2024

The makers of the Aurora supercomputer, which is housed at the Argonne National Laboratory, gave some reasons why the system didn't make the top spot on the Top Read more…

ISC 2024 Keynote: High-precision Computing Will Be a Foundation for AI Models

May 15, 2024

Some scientific computing applications cannot sacrifice accuracy and will always require high-precision computing. Therefore, conventional high-performance c Read more…

Shutterstock 493860193

Linux Foundation Announces the Launch of the High-Performance Software Foundation

May 14, 2024

The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, is excited to announce the launch of the High-Performance Softw Read more…

ISC 2024: Hyperion Research Predicts HPC Market Rebound after Flat 2023

May 13, 2024

First, the top line: the overall HPC market was flat in 2023 at roughly $37 billion, bogged down by supply chain issues and slowed acceptance of some larger sys Read more…

Top 500: Aurora Breaks into Exascale, but Can’t Get to the Frontier of HPC

May 13, 2024

The 63rd installment of the TOP500 list is available today in coordination with the kickoff of ISC 2024 in Hamburg, Germany. Once again, the Frontier system at Read more…

Synopsys Eats Ansys: Does HPC Get Indigestion?

February 8, 2024

Recently, it was announced that Synopsys is buying HPC tool developer Ansys. Started in Pittsburgh, Pa., in 1970 as Swanson Analysis Systems, Inc. (SASI) by John Swanson (and eventually renamed), Ansys serves the CAE (Computer Aided Engineering)/multiphysics engineering simulation market. Read more…

Nvidia H100: Are 550,000 GPUs Enough for This Year?

August 17, 2023

The GPU Squeeze continues to place a premium on Nvidia H100 GPUs. In a recent Financial Times article, Nvidia reports that it expects to ship 550,000 of its lat Read more…

Comparing NVIDIA A100 and NVIDIA L40S: Which GPU is Ideal for AI and Graphics-Intensive Workloads?

October 30, 2023

With long lead times for the NVIDIA H100 and A100 GPUs, many organizations are looking at the new NVIDIA L40S GPU, which it’s a new GPU optimized for AI and g Read more…

Choosing the Right GPU for LLM Inference and Training

December 11, 2023

Accelerating the training and inference processes of deep learning models is crucial for unleashing their true potential and NVIDIA GPUs have emerged as a game- Read more…

Shutterstock 1606064203

Meta’s Zuckerberg Puts Its AI Future in the Hands of 600,000 GPUs

January 25, 2024

In under two minutes, Meta's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, laid out the company's AI plans, which included a plan to build an artificial intelligence system with the eq Read more…

AMD MI3000A

How AMD May Get Across the CUDA Moat

October 5, 2023

When discussing GenAI, the term "GPU" almost always enters the conversation and the topic often moves toward performance and access. Interestingly, the word "GPU" is assumed to mean "Nvidia" products. (As an aside, the popular Nvidia hardware used in GenAI are not technically... Read more…

Nvidia’s New Blackwell GPU Can Train AI Models with Trillions of Parameters

March 18, 2024

Nvidia's latest and fastest GPU, codenamed Blackwell, is here and will underpin the company's AI plans this year. The chip offers performance improvements from Read more…

Some Reasons Why Aurora Didn’t Take First Place in the Top500 List

May 15, 2024

The makers of the Aurora supercomputer, which is housed at the Argonne National Laboratory, gave some reasons why the system didn't make the top spot on the Top Read more…

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

Eyes on the Quantum Prize – D-Wave Says its Time is Now

January 30, 2024

Early quantum computing pioneer D-Wave again asserted – that at least for D-Wave – the commercial quantum era has begun. Speaking at its first in-person Ana Read more…

Shutterstock 1285747942

AMD’s Horsepower-packed MI300X GPU Beats Nvidia’s Upcoming H200

December 7, 2023

AMD and Nvidia are locked in an AI performance battle – much like the gaming GPU performance clash the companies have waged for decades. AMD has claimed it Read more…

The GenAI Datacenter Squeeze Is Here

February 1, 2024

The immediate effect of the GenAI GPU Squeeze was to reduce availability, either direct purchase or cloud access, increase cost, and push demand through the roof. A secondary issue has been developing over the last several years. Even though your organization secured several racks... Read more…

Intel Plans Falcon Shores 2 GPU Supercomputing Chip for 2026  

August 8, 2023

Intel is planning to onboard a new version of the Falcon Shores chip in 2026, which is code-named Falcon Shores 2. The new product was announced by CEO Pat Gel Read more…

The NASA Black Hole Plunge

May 7, 2024

We have all thought about it. No one has done it, but now, thanks to HPC, we see what it looks like. Hold on to your feet because NASA has released videos of wh Read more…

GenAI Having Major Impact on Data Culture, Survey Says

February 21, 2024

While 2023 was the year of GenAI, the adoption rates for GenAI did not match expectations. Most organizations are continuing to invest in GenAI but are yet to Read more…

How the Chip Industry is Helping a Battery Company

May 8, 2024

Chip companies, once seen as engineering pure plays, are now at the center of geopolitical intrigue. Chip manufacturing firms, especially TSMC and Intel, have b Read more…

Q&A with Nvidia’s Chief of DGX Systems on the DGX-GB200 Rack-scale System

March 27, 2024

Pictures of Nvidia's new flagship mega-server, the DGX GB200, on the GTC show floor got favorable reactions on social media for the sheer amount of computing po Read more…

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
HPCwire