The KAUST Supercomputing Core Lab impacts on the international conversation on supercomputing at SC2017
SC conference, SC2017, was held in Denver, Colorado from
Nov 12th to the 17th. 2017 marks this conference’s thirtieth
anniversary, in the world of supercomputing almost a lifetime.
As part of
its mandate, the SC conference has devised a series of standards by which to
measure the capacity of any given supercomputer. The KAUST Supercomputing Core Lab’s Shaheen II, a Cray XC40 system computer, debuted as the
seventh fastest computer in the world in June 2015 by the metrics devised by SC.
As of Nov 13th 2017 it has been ranked as twentieth; but it still remains the
number one supercomputer in the Middle East. Maintaining this consistency in accreditation
is a noteworthy feat.
computational scientist Georgios Markomanolis, from the KAUST Supercomputing
Core Lab, participated in the development of a new benchmark in evaluating
performance, in collaboration with other benchmark committee members: John Bent
(Cray), Julian Kunkel (German Climate Computing Centre) and Jay Lofstead
(Sandia National Laboratories). This benchmark is titled IO-500 and its purpose
is to create a performance rating based on storage capabilities. As tested
against this methodology the KAUST Shaheen Cray XC40 was ranked 2nd
and 3rd for the DataWarp and Lustre file systems respectively. Currently,
as it is a new benchmarking system, submissions are being sought from other
supercomputing centers in order to compare storage technologies.
further explored IO-500 in two presentations. In the IBM Spectrum Scale User
Group he delivered an introduction to the IO-500 benchmark, explaining its
importance for the procurement of storage. In the BoF (Birds of a Feather)
sessions he spoke about his experience, and the results achieved, using the
Deborah Bard from Berkeley Labs, Markomanolis also organized a tutorial on
Burst Buffer (an intermediate, high-speed layer of storage) entitled Getting
Started with the Burst Buffer: Using DataWarp Technology. The purpose of this tutorial was to
introduce this new technology while also showing how it optimizes the performance
of typical applications.
continuance of this training program KAUST is currently working with National
Energy Research Scientific Computing Center to build a user forum related to Burst Buffer and
NVMe technologies. As well as for training purposes this forum has been
established with the intention of sharing information regarding best practices
among various HPC centers.
supercomputers develop in complexity so too must the procedures in place to
maintain them. During the BoF session, a KAUST Supercomputing Core Lab computational
scientist, Bilel Hadri, and collaborators, Guilherme Peretti-Pezzi (Swiss
National Supercomputing Centre) and Reuben Budiardja (Oak Ridge National Laboratory), sat on a panel discussion which
explored best practices, bringing different strategies to bear on system
This BoF concentrated
on regression testing; the different strategies involved, lessons learned and
how these can be made available to the HPC community. The feedback was
excellent; around 70 participants attended and engaged the speakers with
questions; many of them eager to implement new testing and strategies to their
proof of its continuing status, researchers using the KAUST Shaheen Cray XC40
won best paper at the conference. A collaboration from the
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat Munich (LMU) and the Technical University of
Munich (TUM) presented the prize winning paper on a scalability study and
high-resolution simulation of the 2004 Sumatra-Andaman earthquake.
As with all
research centers supercomputing faces the challenge of managing budget
restrictions. Often computational cycles take precedence over infrastructures
such as electricity. The KAUST Supercomputing Core Lab, along with eleven
computing centers, shared its experience of power capping strategies such as
using dynamic power scheduling with SLURM, examining its benefits and
are increasingly informing industry, medical research, environmental issues in
fact any area of discovery that demands data processing. How we further
understand our world and how we manage progress is reliant on these processing
tools; and how we manage them to an optimum level is reliant on open dialogue
within the HPC community. To this end the SC conference is a vital focal point
in the supercomputing calendar.
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