Exciting days at the ISC High Performance 2023 in Hamburg

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The ISC High Performance 2023 conference in Hamburg is over and the NHR@FAU team can look back on a successful participation with presentations, awards, a quiz, and many other activities.

Ten days before the actual conference, Georg Hager conducted a half-day online course titled “A Beginner’s Introduction to Node-Level Computer Architecture and Performance.” This event was specifically targeted at attendees with an online pass who could not visit one of the many in-person events at ISC. The seminar was well attended and is now available as streaming content via the online conference platform.

Another important activity that went, however, widely unnoticed is the online part of the Student Cluster Competition. Similar to its SC conference counterpart, student teams from different academic institutions had to run and optimize several applications on a cluster system of their own design. NHR@FAU, specifically Thomas Zeiser and Jan Laukemann, supported the online teams with hardware access and useful advice. At the conference itself, seven student teams had the chance to participate in person and build, maintain, and run their own cluster systems to perform several HPC-related tasks. Jan Laukemann as part of the committee and judges helped organizing this event. At the awards ceremony, Georg Hager had the privilege of handing over the best LINPACK award of the on-site part of the competition to “Team RACKlette” from ETH Zurich.

At the NHR exhibition booth, a new discussion format called “Sofa Talk” was introduced with great success. In essence, this is a “mini-BoF” where people get together to discuss a topic of mutual interest. NHR@FAU organized three such sessions: about the LIKWID tool suite (by Thomas Gruber), about managing end-user support (by Georg Hager), and about job performance monitoring with ClusterCockpit (by Jan Eitzinger). Jan Eitzinger also co-organized a “Birds-of-a-Feather” (BoF) session titled “The HPC PowerStack: A Community-Driven Collaboration Toward Power-Aware, Energy-Efficient, and Sustainable HPC in the Exascale Era.” This BoF aimed at collecting feedback and sparking discussions about several ongoing research projects in the power efficiency area. Seven international speakers from HPC sites and industry shared their views and engaged in discussions.

The Research Poster track is one of the most engaging and lively parts of the contributed program at ISC. After a “Poster Blitz,” where every author had 60 seconds to describe their contribution and motivate the audience to come and visit their poster, a reception gave everyone the opportunity to discuss bleeding-edge research over food and drink. Two posters from NHR@FAU made it through the competitive review process: Ayesha Afzal’s provocative contribution titled “Making Applications Faster by Slowing Down Processes?” (presented by Georg Hager) sparked significant interest and discussions among attendees of the poster reception. Christie Alappat’s poster on “RACE: Speeding Up Sparse Iterative Solvers Using Cache Blocked Matrix Power Kernels” even made it to the shortlist of Best Research Poster finalists and was eventually awarded a third prize. Congrats!

Together with the Zuse-Institut Berlin (ZIB), we conducted an “NHR Quiz” with questions about HPC and computer history. Participants had to answer ten questions online; on the last day of the conference exhibition, the participants with the highest score (i.e., most correct answers) were invited to the NHR booth to collect their “prize package,” a bag full of fun. Actually, NHR@FAU and ZIB promo items. Well, it was actually more about bragging rights. Anyway, the overall winner and the only participant to get all answers right was Lena Jurkschat from ZIH Dresden. Congratulations!

Last but not least, let us not forget about the student volunteers who worked tirelessly, out in the open and behind the scenes, to make the conference run like clockwork. This year, 15 students were selected out of 53 submissions. Three of them came from FAU, which is a great ratio given the international crowd of applicants. A big Thank You to the students for their buzz and to Colleen Sheedy from the ISC Group for a well-organized team!

Dr. Georg Hager

Head of Training & Support

Erlangen National High Performance Computing Center (NHR@FAU)
Training & Support Division