Presentations, executive board activity, poster slam highlight 3-day event

New OLCF User Group Executive Board chair Michael Zingale, an astrophysicist from Stony Brook University, presented at the 2015 OLCF Users Meeting held June 23–25 at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

New and long-time Titan users attended the annual Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF) User Meeting in June to learn about, share, and discuss the most recent science OLCF users are conducting on Titan.

Ninety people participated in the 3-day event June 23–25 at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). The meeting coincided with the election of new OLCF User Group (OUG) Executive Board members. First-time board members Hai Ah Nam of Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Thomas Maier of ORNL, and Mark Taylor of Sandia National Laboratories were elected to 3-year terms, and Stephane Ethier of Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory was elected to a second term. The 11-member board is tasked with channeling user feedback to and advising the OLCF, a DOE Office of Science User Facility located at ORNL.

The first 2 days of the meeting focused on science produced on Titan and the computational challenges users overcame in the process. On the first day, LANL researcher Luis Sandoval gave the keynote talk, “Helium Bubble Growth in Tungsten under Realistic Rates.” Presentations on the second day included an overview by NVIDIA’s Jeff Larkin to GPU computing and the OpenACC programming standard. The third day’s activities looked ahead to next-generation supercomputing applications and the OLCF’s next petascale machine, Summit.

Before the user meeting, the OLCF staged a half-day training session aimed at new users that covered user tips, I/O best practices, and data transfer options.

Users who could not attend the meeting had access to presentations via live Blue Jeans webcasts. Abstracts, presentation materials, and recordings from the event are available on the 2015 User Meeting web page.

During the OUG business meeting on the conference’s second day, new OUG chair Michael Zingale shared his vision for a user-driven virtual space where high-performance computing users can swap ideas, codes, and resources. Zingale, an astrophysicist at Stony Brook University, is currently part of a team working to develop a GPU-friendly solver that will make efficient use of the OLCF’s Titan supercomputer.

“In the end, we’ll have something that’s general enough that could benefit other users,” Zingale said. “A space where users can collaborate on pieces of code optimized for Titan’s architecture could save people a lot of time. This is something that users can do on their own to make sharing as easy as possible.”

Nearly 200 users cast votes in the latest OUG election, a significant increase from last year’s inaugural vote. The online election was open for 2 weeks in June. Suzanne Parete-Koon, OLCF user assistance specialist and OUG staff coordinator, said the increase in participation indicates that the board is having a positive effect on user engagement.

“An engaged user group gives us regular contact with people who are running and implementing codes on our machines and, therefore, helps us be aware of what users’ needs are,” Parete-Koon said. “I think we’re getting better at this every year, and we’re seeing much more active participation.”

New to the user meeting this year was the poster slam, an opportunity on the opening day for each of the 28 poster presenters in attendance to talk briefly about their work in front of all attendees. Users said the slam helped them identify topics of interest that they could explore further in conversations during the poster session.

“We noticed there were a lot of people interacting with posters this year,” Parete-Koon said. “People commented to us that because they heard something interesting during the poster slam, they went and talked to that person later on.”

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