NCCS Director

James Hack

James J. Hack directs the National Center for Computational Sciences (NCCS), a leadership computing complex at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) providing high performance computing resources for tackling scientific grand challenges.

Director’s Letter

Excitement is building at the Leadership Computing Facility as we prepare for the 2018 delivery of Summit, the facility’s next leadership supercomputer, which will be up to 10 times more powerful than Titan, the OLCF’s 27-petaflop flagship system.

Although there is a lot of buzz around Summit, including the very real sounds of construction on the new computer room, I am just as pleased to report on the strong scientific productivity enabled by Titan over the past year. Projects using Titan and other OLCF resources in 2016 resulted in the largest number of research publications since the system went into full production in 2013. Furthermore, record-high attendance at the annual user meeting attests to the involved engagement of our users.

For the OLCF, the past year was leadership computing at its best.

Now in 2017, we have the unique opportunity to look back—before Titan, before the 3-petaflop Cray XK6 Jaguar, even before Eagle, a tera op IBM system installed at the turn of the new millennium—to the founding of the Center for Computational Sciences at the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The establishment of CCS—the OLCF’s predecessor—in May 1992 marks this year as our 25th anniversary. For a quarter-century, the OLCF has delivered some of the world’s earliest breakthroughs in gigaflop, teraflop, and petaflop performance, progress that has transformed computational science.

In 2016, 405 publications resulted from OLCF resources like Titan, and 59 appeared in high-impact journals, including Nature, Science, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences—a 31 percent increase in high-impact publications from 2015. We are pleased at the exceptional productivity of our user community and the significant role of HPC at high levels of scientific discourse.

In all, more than 1,100 users across 318 projects accessed OLCF resources. OLCF staff are dedicated to improving the user experience and increasing the breadth of our capabilities, and have responded to several challenges and opportunities this year.

For the second year in a row, our staff ensured Titan was available for user projects 97 percent of the time, exceeding our target availability by 7 percent.

Although Titan, now 4 years old, is aging and will eventually reach its operational lifespan, I am proud of our staff for finding proactive strategies for maintaining system reliability, providing 35 million additional core hours over last year.

In addition to facilitating capability-limited scientific investigations of our world, we continue to host hundreds of facility tours, informing groups ranging from middle school students to government officials of the science that Titan makes possible.

The impacts made here, year after year, through scientific discoveries, technological advances, and the work of purpose-driven staff, continue to raise the value of HPC for solving some of the world’s toughest scientific and energy-related problems.

James J. Hack

Director, National Center for Computational Sciences