Facility users attend yearly event to network and connect with the user and staff communities

In May, Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF), a US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility located at DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), held its 15th annual user meeting—an event that focused on the past, present, and future of high-performance computing (HPC) at the OLCF.

The meeting was held from May 21–23, with the first day giving attendees the opportunity to learn about some of the research performed with Summit since the supercomputer’s official opening in January.

“Summit has only been in operation to our user programs for four months, and we already have some really fantastic results that users shared on day one,” said Ashley Barker, group leader for the OLCF’s User Assistance and Outreach Group. “Day one was focused on our users’ utilization of Summit and what they have accomplished thus far.”

Succeeding days focused on the current state of the OLCF as well as the potential future of HPC, including a discussion of Frontier, the lab’s newly announced exascale supercomputer, scheduled for delivery in 2021.

Shantenu Jha, of Brookhaven National Laboratory and Rutgers University, spoke about workflow systems on the meeting’s second day

The talks began with Prabhat, Data and Analytics Group lead with the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Centerat Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, followed by Wayne Joubert of the OLCF. Prabhat and Joubert and their collaborators shared the 2018 Association for Computing Machinery’s (ACM’s) Gordon Bell Prize. The ACM awarded two Gordon Bell Prizes in 2018 for these two teams’ work on the OLCF’s Summit supercomputer.

Prabhat’s talk, “Exascale Deep Learning for Climate Analytics,” detailed an automated approach to classifying severe weather patterns in Earth-systems simulations through HPC. Traditionally, identifications of interest have tended to be simplistic in measuring things like mean temperature or sea level rise, or human-labor-intensive to identify more complex structures like hurricanes. Through deep learning simulations, coupled with the computational power of Summit, however, Prabhat’s team has been able to identify more complex phenomenon associated with extreme weather, such as the duration, intensity, and frequency of large storm systems.

Joubert’s work with Summit uses high-speed single- and half-precision operations to gain additional performance in sorting through combinations of biological interactions to pinpoint specific genetic elements that lead to certain human traits—specifically a propensity toward opioid addiction. In June 2018, early in Summit’s testing, Joubert and his colleagues broke the exascale barrier, achieving a peak throughput of 2.36 exaops—faster than any previously reported science application—with their application.

In addition to the Gordon Bell winners, 13 speakers were invited to the user meeting, and talks ranged from Summit research findings to the concept of federated facilities, to glimpses into the possible future of computing.

Jeroen Tromp, professor of Geophysics at Princeton University, described the way his team is using Summit to image the Earth’s interior using earthquake data, a project that originally began on Titan. Each earthquake releases waves that radiate away from the point of origin and circumnavigate the globe to the antipode before returning in the opposite direction. By measuring the speed at which these waves travel, researchers are able to more accurately understand the makeup of the Earth’s mantle, including areas like hotspots and mantle plumes.

For Tromp, Summit’s computing power provides a unique opportunity to analyze massive amounts of earthquake data, and a new method of data storage—the Adaptable Seismic Data Format—meant that the team could integrate more waveforms than previously possible to more accurately image the Earth’s mantle.

In addition to talks, the OLCF hosted a poster session at which users and staff could present and discuss their research with other attendees.

The second day kicked off with a session on user requirements for cyberinfrastructure enabling the federation of facilities for science, and a discussion of OLCF progress in enabling new services in this regard. Scientists, especially those engaged in experimental or observational pursuits, have a growing demand for the integration of high-performance computing and data service that spans multiple instruments and/or facilities.

“Cutting-edge experimental and observational science increasingly requires seamless integration with large-scale data and computing capabilities of the type provided by DOE’s Leadership Computing Program, including effective, real-time access to these services,” said Jack Wells, director of science for ORNL’s National Center for Computational Sciences.

The “Federated Facilities” session included talks from Shantenu Jha of Brookhaven Laboratory and Rutgers University, and Scott Klasky and Jason Kincl from ORNL, and was followed by updates from OLCF facility staff.

The meeting also ushered in some important changes to the OLCF’s User Group, notably the announcement of three new Executive Board members: Balint Joo, Jefferson Lab; Eric Nielson, NASA’s Langley Research Center; and P. K. Yeung, Georgia Tech. In addition it was announced that  Joe Oefelein, outgoing chair of the OLCF User Group Executive Board, will be succeeded by Mike Zingale of Stony Brook University.

The third day focused on the possibilities of exascale computing, with subjects ranging from quantum to neuromorphic computers. Stan Tomov from the University of Tennessee’s Innovative Computing Laboratory spoke on Linear Algebra Technologies at Exascale, and ORNL’s Travis Humble and Catherine Schuman discussed Quantum Computing and Neuromorphic Computing, respectively.

Although much of the 3 days was spent looking toward future OCLF accomplishments, there was an air of nostalgia. Titan, the OLCF’s groundbreaking 27 PF supercomputer, first introduced in 2012, is slated for decommissioning in August 2019. Commemorative stickers were designed for the occasion, and users were given the unique opportunity to have their photo taken with Titan as part of a tour of the facility.

The full meeting agenda, presentation materials, and all 16 posters are available on the 2019 OLCF User Meeting webpage.

2019 OLCF User Meeting Group Photo

2019 OLCF User Meeting Group Photo

UT Battelle LLC manages ORNL for DOE’s Office of Science. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit https://energy.gov/science.