GCS Centres Converge in Frankfurt for ISC19
Newsflash 08/2019 –

From sponsoring students and awards, to speaking and moderating discussions, to hosting guests at its “HPC Happy Hour,” GCS and centres’ staffs were heavily involved in this year’s International Supercomputing Conference.

GCS Managing Director Dr. Claus-Axel Müller (left) and HLRS Director Prof. Dr. Michael Resch (right) award Prof. Frank Müller of North Carolina State University with the 2019 GCS Award. 

As Germany’s flagship high-performance computing (HPC) organization, the Gauss Centre for Supercomputing (GCS) has been a major participant in the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) for the past 8 years, sending experts to share HPC knowledge and insights, present papers, as well as supporting next-generation scientists.

This year was no different, and GCS left a significant footprint at ISC19, which ran June 16–20 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

On Monday, June 17, GCS Managing Director Dr. Claus-Axel Müller and Prof. Dr. Michael Resch, Chairman of the International GCS Award Committee, Vice-Chairman of the GCS Board of Directors and Director at the High Performance Computing Center (HLRS Stuttgart, GCS presented the GCS Award to a team led by North Carolina State University Professor Frank Müller for their paper, “End-to-End Resilience for HPC Applications.” A €5,000 prize, the GCS Award is given to the best technical paper at the conference as decided by the international group of judges on the Gauss Award committee.

"Our work investigates the impact of making multiple kernels in a high-performance application fault tolerant to address resilience at large scale,” Müller said. “We discovered that a window of vulnerability is created between kernels that are otherwise protected. This often overlooked window tends to result in half of the data structures to remain subject to silent data corruption. We developed techniques to close such vulnerabilities and deliver true end-to-end data protection between HPC kernels.”

“We appreciate the GCS award as an encouragement for our work and an acknowledgment of the relevance of our contribution to HPC, and hope that many practitioners can benefit from our work."

In addition, HLRS staffers Joseph Schuchart and José Gracia were named finalists for the Hans Meuer Award, which honors the conference’s most outstanding research paper. They presented their paper, “Global Task Dependencies in PGAS Applications” Monday evening. While they ultimately did not win the award, the team was honored to be finalists for the Meuer Award.

On Tuesday, Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) Director and newly appointed GCS Chairman of the Board of Directors, Prof. Dr. Dieter Kranzlmüller gave a presentation titled, “HPC in Germany - An Update from GCS.” During the presentation, Kranzlmüller highlighted the most recent HPC investments at all three GCS centres—HLRS, the Jülich Supercomputing Centre (JSC), and LRZ—and also articulated how the overall German HPC strategy was driven by user needs and requirements, particularly related to scalability and improving data storage and management capabilities, and how these requirements fit in to Germany’s planning for exascale computing, a thousand-fold increase in computing power over petaflop supercomputers.

Afterwards, GCS hosted its “HPC Happy Hour” on Tuesday evening, inviting partners and friends in HPC space as well as conference attendees interested in learning more about GCS to stop by the GCS booth for HPC—themed conversation while enjoying snacks and drinks. The event took place at the GCS booth, which, in addition to demonstrations from GCS experts, showcased 65 simulation videos coming from GCS users. 

Staff from the three GCS centres participated in a wide variety of talks, workshops, and presentations at ISC19, and several served as chairs for parts of the conference program. JSC Director Prof. Dr. Dr. Thomas Lippert chaired a “distinguished speakers” session that included discussion on the economics of supercomputing at the end of Moore’s Law as well as a talk by JSC researcher Kristel Michielsen about quantum computing in scientific discovery.

LRZ staff were also well-represented, with LRZ staffers Laura Schultz who served as ISC19’S inclusivity co-chair, Yu Wang, who chaired the conference’s machine learning day, and Kranzlmüller, who chaired another “distinguished speakers” session dedicated to exascale computing in China and machine learning and HPC’s role in understanding and curing cancer.

Finally, GCS continued its proud tradition of supporting rising stars in HPC by sponsoring two German university team’s in the Student Cluster Competition (SCC). The SCC brings together international teams for three days of intensive computing—students must design and build their own cluster computer, run a variety of applications while ensuring their cluster does not exceed the predetermined power threshold, and answer a variety of HPC related questions.

Students from Heidelberg University and the University of Hamburg competed in the competition, and while neither team placed in the top three, both came away from the competition with a sense of accomplishment as well as a more complete understanding of the professional opportunities in the greater HPC landscape.

"We will remember this year's Student Cluster Competition as a wonderful opportunity to delve into a variety of topics related to HPC,” said University of Hamburg student Maximilian Bauregger. “We both gained a lot of experience in how clusters are built and maintained as well as how programs must be written and compiled to run efficiently on HPC clusters. We had the opportunity to talk to many experts in HPC. Moreover, we would like to thank the HPC Advisory Council for organizing the SCC as well as both NEC and GCS for making it possible for us to participate."

"For us, the competition was a challenging but exciting opportunity to learn about setting up a system and optimizing benchmarks to get the best possible performance out of it,” said Susanne de Vasconcelos Barros Malheiros, one of the team members from Heidelberg University. “At ISC, we gained insights into the newest developments in the HPC world and were able to establish contacts with potential future employers from all around the world while, last but not least, enjoying the notably delicious food at the conference."

For Dr. Claus-Axel Müller, GCS Managing Director, GCS’ investment in the SCC teams always pays dividends, no matter the outcome. “We have observed that the students we sponsor in these competitions always come away knowing more about the overall HPC ecosystem and seem more inspired to pursue careers in HPC,” he said. “This means that by supporting these students, we are also investing in our future and the future of HPC. We are happy to support these bright and motivated students, and plan to continue to support German universities’ participation in future SCCs.”

-Eric Gedenk