Participants practice HPC programming on Titan

The Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF) held an Introduction to High-Performance Computing (HPC) workshop June 26–28 at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

Using resources at the OLCF, a DOE Office of Science User Facility located at ORNL, researchers can tackle big science problems with precision. For programmers and facility users, a solid understanding of the computational tools available can help facilitate fundamental research and discovery in a variety of fields.

“The main goal of the event was to provide training for the people who needed to learn how to run on HPC systems,” said Tom Papatheodore, an HPC programmer and user support specialist at the OLCF.

Along with other OLCF staff, Papatheodore led the introductory workshop and provided attendees with essential computing knowledge. This 3-day event allowed participants to survey many HPC topics with hands-on opportunities.

The event catered to people of all experience levels from both inside and outside ORNL, from students and summer interns new to HPC to ORNL staff hoping to fill gaps in their knowledge.

“Throughout the event, whether we were helping interns; high school, undergraduate, or graduate students; or people who just wanted to learn more about running on our systems, we aimed to give everybody a foundation,” Papatheodore said. “We also helped staff members in some of the other divisions who don’t typically use OLCF systems by exposing them to HPC concepts and resources.”

Initial training sessions covered the UNIX command line interface, the Vim text editor (used for creating/editing files from the UNIX command line), and C/Fortran programming. These fundamental topics gave participants the basic knowledge needed to understand subsequent workshop discussions and activities focused on parallel programming and GPU computing.

“I did not have any experience with HPC before the workshop, so the sessions were really helpful introductions to a variety of topics, including some useful programming languages I had never used before,” said Armenak Petrosyan, a postdoctoral researcher in the Computer Science and Mathematics Division of ORNL’s Computing and Computational Sciences Directorate. “I especially enjoyed learning how to use UNIX.”

Participants attended presentations by OLCF staff and vendor partners and got hands-on experience running programs that use the MPI, OpenMP, CUDA, and OpenACC programming models on Titan, the OLCF’s 27-petaflop supercomputer.

The event provided valuable information for participants of various career stages and education levels who sought an HPC introduction or refresher.

“People probably took away different amounts of knowledge from the event based on their previous experience. But whether they were new to HPC or just filling holes in their knowledge, I hope everyone walked away with a foundation to continue learning or working in HPC,” Papatheodore said.

ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. DOE’s Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit