International collaboration sparks fruitful dialogue on Pawsey HPC

Over a lightning 72-hour conference, Pawsey played host to the many brilliant minds of supercomputing from across the planet during the second PaCER Conference, P’Con. The Pawsey Supercomputing Research Centre, and Executive Director, Mark Stickells inducted their brand-new Exhibition Space for #PCON22.

The goal of the Pawsey Centre for Extreme Scale Readiness, or PaCER, is to prepare Australian computational researchers for the next era of supercomputing.

PaCER provides researchers an opportunity to optimise their codes and workflows suitable for next-generation supercomputers by providing early access to supercomputing tools and infrastructure, training and exclusive hackathons focused on HPC performance at scale.

With both in-person and virtual participants in attendance, an informational experience was on full show for all. Think tanks, covering numerous areas of Supercomputing Infrastructure issues and discussions between peers best to address them, was the theme for the three day ‘unconference’.

Pawsey showcased updates on their Technology Refresh, Supercomputing Services, Training & Education, Visualisation, and Data Services, providing the industry and public insight into the current capabilities the PaCER facility offers and the future benefits that PaCER can provide to the Australian, and International, community.

To complement this showcase, groups of attendees congregated and collaborated to discuss the most challenging areas facing HPC at this time.  These groups, or squads, consisted of HPC greats across all areas, with some attending online through Webex Meetings from across the globe, and conducted in-depth discussions on areas such as Data Handling and Processing, Profiling, low-level GPU programming, HIP among other tools such as Kokkos, and OpenMP/ACC.

The quality of cross-discipline network building and professional collaboration has been second-to-none, and the benefits of these groups working together to solve the HPC community’s issues will unquestionably yield benefits for the HPC world never seen to date.

Highlights included presentations from members of the global high-performance computing (HPC) community, including Pawsey’s’ Maciej Cytowski, Chris Marsh of Hewlett Packard Enterprises (HPE), and Tom Papatheodore of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) covered their company’s most recent results, among other findings they believe can positively benefit the global researching community.

Presentations were also provided from Joe Schoonover of Fluid Numerics covering the porting of existing OpenACC and CUDA applications to AMD GPU Hardware. Thomas Schulthess, Director of the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre made a surprise visit to P’Con and shared ideas on using software-defined infrastructure consolidation in Europe for climate modelling with their ALPS HPC Systems. Thomas also covered the subsequent scale opportunities and challenges with combining traditional NWP (HPC) with machine learning (DNN/AI) and how this exposes workflow management as the weakness behind NWP. These were challenging and thought-provoking presentations for P’Con guests.

Thanks in large part to the implementation of multi-channel communication mediums during #PCON22 and the willingness of participants to contribute from across the planet to the community of scientific researchers in Perth, a future trend of collaboration between experts will no doubt benefit this community of researchers, and their constantly growing user community.