ScicomP12/SP-XXL conference at NCAR offers exposure to new ideas for international attendees

By Staff
08/03/2006 - 12:00am


    NCAR scientist Bill Collins
  At the ScicomP12/SP-XXL conference held at in Boulder July 17–21, NCAR scientist Bill Collins shows how increasingly sophisticated computer models are improving our understanding of the Earth's climate system.

A diverse and international audience gathered at NCAR July 17–21 for the joint ScicomP12/SP-XXL conference, hosted by NCAR’s Scientific Computing Division (SCD).

The conference, aimed at computational scientists and engineers interested in achieving maximum performance and scalability on high-performance IBM computing systems, attracted nearly 140 attendees from the U.S., Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, Taiwan, Korea, and Singapore. Participants included scientific programmers, system administrators, and modelers from a wide range of institutions including national laboratories, research centers, universities, the military, and the private sector.

Bill Collins, a scientist in NCAR’s Climate and Global Dynamics Division, delivered a keynote address discussing the evolution of complex earth system models and ultra-high-resolution simulations. He was followed by a keynote address from Eric Kronstadt of IBM Research on the future of petascale computing.

The program included a one-day tutorial on how to derive optimal system and application performance on IBM cluster systems. Also included were numerous presentations on weather and climate modeling, performance analysis and debugging, algorithms and techniques for scientific computing, user experiences with POWER architectures and BlueGene/L, product roadmaps, application development, software tools, and best practices.

ScicomP/SP-XXL break     LLNL's Gary Kumfert and NCAR's Mike Page  
During a mid-morning break at ScicomP12/SP-XXL, participants take the opportunity to meet face to face with colleagues from other sites.   ScicomP president Gary Kumfert of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory shakes hands with ScicomP treasurer Mike Page of NCAR.    
IBM's Eric Kronstadt   ScicomP12/SP-XXL  
Eric Kronstadt of IBM Research speaks to the ScicomP12/SP-XXL audience about directions in petascale computing.   Attendees fill the auditorium at NCAR's Center Green facility, recently renovated to accommodate scientific meetings.  

“The conference brought together scientific users of IBM computing systems from major research sites—for example, the National Centers for Environmental Prediction, the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center, the Central Weather Bureau of Taiwan, the Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre, and the Research Centre Jülich,” says Mike Page, a software engineer in SCD’s Consulting Services and member of the ScicomP executive committee.

“We had a mix of computational and administrative users, both vendors and customers, coming together to talk about hardware, software, and the present and future of IBM systems. It was a chance to share knowledge and tricks of the trade, compare notes, and discuss what works and what doesn’t.”

“Hosting this conference was a wonderful opportunity,” adds Dick Valent, head of SCD Consulting Services. “When colleagues and partners from other sites come to see and interact with us, it creates synergy. Face-to-face contact is always an advantage. ”

Post-conference survey forms showed that participants did, in fact, consider networking with peers to be one of the key benefits of the conference. Participants also valued the in-depth technical content, the exposure to new ideas, and the honest and frank discussions.

SCD's support of the ScicomP12/SP-XXL conference is part of its larger mission to provide computational resources and service to the international geosciences community, fostering the transfer of knowledge and technology for the betterment of life on earth.

About ScicomP/SP-XXL

ScicomP is an international organization of scientific and technical users of IBM systems. The purpose of ScicomP is to share information on software tools and techniques for developing scientific applications on IBM systems, and to gather and provide feedback to IBM to influence the evolution of these systems.

SP-XXL is a self-organized and self-supporting user group for sites with major installations of IBM equipment. The group focuses on large-scale scientific/technical computing using IBM hardware. Members work together to increase the capabilities of IBM machines and to give guidance to IBM on essential development and support issues.

—Lynda Lester

Photos: Lynda Lester, NCAR/CISL