Unigroup's May 2017 Meeting Announcements


A Brief Introduction to High-Performance Computing (HPC)


Prentice Bisbal, Lead Software Engineer,
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL)

Thursday, 18-MAY-2017      (** 3rd Thursday **)

The Cooper Union
School of Engineering   (*** NEW BUILDING ***)
41 Cooper Square    (3rd Avenue @ 7th Street, between 6th & 7th Streets)
East Village, Manhattan
New York City, 10003
Meeting Room: 502    (*** New Building: 5th Floor ***)
** Please RSVP **

6:15 - 6:30 PM Registration
6:30 - 6:45 PM Ask the Wizard - Questions, Answers and Current Events
6:45 - 7:00 PM Unigroup Business
7:00 - 9:30 PM Main Presentation

Please see the Fee Schedule below.


Unigroup's May 2017 meeting will be on Linux Clusters and High Performance Computing.


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      The Cooper Union  (http://www.cooper.edu)
      School of Engineering  (*** New Building ***)
      41 Cooper Square (3rd Avenue @ 7th Street, between 6th & 7th Streets)
      East Village, Manhattan
      New York City, 10003
      Meeting Room: ** (See Above, Room May Change Month-to-Month)

   Located on the East side of Cooper Square.  Look for the
   new building with the non-traditional appearance.
   Entrance is at the corner of 3rd Avenue and 7th Street.

   Building lobby sign-in is required at the guard's desk.
   Enter the building, check in with the guard at the lobby for
     directions to the Unigroup Meeting Room.

   Nearest mass transit stations are:
     '6'           to Astor Place (stops right at The Cooper Union),
                   then walk 1 block East and 1 block South.
     'R'           to 8th Street, then walk about 2 blocks East
                   then 1 block South.
     '4/5/N/Q'     to Union Square, then walk South and East.
                   or transfer to the downtown '6' to Astor Place.
     'B/D/F/V'     to Broadway-Lafayette, then walk North and East.
                   or transfer to the uptown '6' to Astor Place.

   Free street parking in the area becomes available at 6pm.

   There are parking lots on Broadway, at (or just South of) 8th
   Street, across from the West side of Cooper Square, as well
   as various others in the area.


Topic: A Brief Introduction to High-Performance Computing (HPC)

Related Topics/Keywords:

Linux, Clusters, HPC, High Performance Computing, MPI, OpenMP, CUDA, Linux HPC Cluster Architecture, Cluster Network Topology, Scientific Computing Analysis.

Introduction & Description of Talk:

This talk will be an overview of High Performance Computing, also known as HPC, Scientific Computing, or Research Computing. This talk will try to define HPC, discuss what sets HPC apart from other forms of computing, why we need HPC, the architecture of a typical Linux HPC cluster, and parallel programming techniques.

Presentation Outline:

   I.   What is HPC?

   II.  How is HPC different from other forms of computing?
        A. CPUs at/near 100% for long periods of time
        B. Power & Cooling Concerns / Operational costs
        C. Minimal context-switching
        C. Throughput-oriented vs. Latency-oriented
        D. Users!

   III. Why we need HPC
        A. Clock frequency stagnant or declining
           1. Energy Density / Heat Dissipation
           2. Moore's Law vs. Dennard Scaling
        B. Grand Challenge problems
           1. Weather Modeling
        C. Scientific Discovery / Engineering
           1. Protein Folding
           2. Computational Chemistry
           3. Structural Analysis
           4. Virtual Crash-Testing
           5. Faster, cheaper, safer better product design, testing
              and manufacturing.
              i.   Automotive Crash Testing
              ii.  Structural analysis/aerodynamic studies of buildings
              iii. Cardioid Heart Simulation
           6. Simulations can provide views of things we can't observe.

   IV.  Programming
        A. Split up work between nodes
        B. MPI
        C. OpenMP
        D. Hybrid MPI+OpenMP
        E. CUDA

   IV.  Architecture of a Typical Linux HPC Cluster
        A. Design Considerations
           1. ASCI Q Paper
           2. Message-Passing Latency
           3. Different Network Topologies
              1. Mesh
              2. Torus
              3. Fat-Tree
        B. Architectural Details
           1. Many "cheap" nodes
              A. No Redundant Hardware
              B. Modest RAM (2-4 GB RAM per core)
           2. Fat-tree InfiniBand Networks
           3. Management Network
           5. Parallel Filesystem
           4. Private, isolated networks
              A. Performance
              B. Security
        C. Software details
           1. Minimal OS installation
           2. As few services running as possible
           3. Scheduler
              A. FIFO
              B. Backfill
              C. Fair-share

   V. Conclusion

References & Web Resources:



Prentice Bisbal has been a Unix/Linux System Administrator specializing in HPC for over 18 years. He first became interested in Scientific Computing while completing his degree in Chemical Engineering. After working almost 2 years as a Chemical Engineer, he decided to switch fields into Scientific Computing by accepting a position as a Unix Software Engineer at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), a DOE National Laboratory. After several years at PPPL, he left to pursue other interests. Since then has built Linux clusters for HPC and provided HPC support for a variety of disciplines (computational chemistry, computational astrophysics, genomics, engineering) and organizations (large oil & gas, small pharmaceutical, large research university, small theoretical research institution) before returning to PPPL in April of 2016.


[Quoted from http://www.pppl.gov/about...]

The U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) is a collaborative national center for fusion energy research. The Laboratory advances the coupled fields of fusion energy and plasma physics research, and, with collaborators, is developing the scientific understanding and key innovations needed to realize fusion as an energy source for the world. An associated mission is providing the highest quality of scientific education.


Addison-Wesley Professional/Prentice Hall PTR/Pearson, and O'Reilly have been kind enough to provide us with review copies of some of their books, which we will continue to raffle off as giveaways at our meetings. The publishers always ask that the persons receiving the books provide a review and/or feedback about their books.

Unigroup would like to thank both publishing companies for the support provided by their User Group programs.

As always, all of the books will be available for review at the start of the meeting.

Note: Our book supply is currently running low, and we need to restock.


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Complimentary Food and Refreshments will be served. This includes "wraps" such as turkey, roast beef, chicken, tuna and grilled vegetables as well as assorted salads (potato, tossed, pasta, etc), cookies, brownies, bottled water and assorted beverages.

** However, we are planning Pizza and Soft Drinks for this meeting.

Please join us for this meeting, you won't want to miss it!

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