Sunday, March 27, 2011

OLCF/NICS Spring Training

Adventure 20110307
One of my buddies from the Knoxville Makers Guild clued me in on an opportunity to attend a week-long training workshop for the world-class Cray XT5 systems, Jaguar and Kraken, hosted by the National Institute for Computational Sciences and the Oak Ridge Leadership Computational Facility at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.  I've gotten a lot of strange looks for spending some of my vacation time to attend what was basically a "beginning programming for Science Doctorates" workshop, but I had a great geeky time.  Always having been on the commercial software side of the house, getting to visit ORNL was kind of akin to a trip to Hogwart's minus the brooms and owls.  Instead of the normal treatment of being pushed into the background, fighting for the bare minimum hardware and getting squeezed for every last penny it was a great change to get to see a place on the forefront of technology focused on what computing can do to improve the world.  After some quick refresher sessions on UNIX, the vi editor and basic C programming we moved into some fascinating discussions on parallelization, MPI, OpenMP and debugging with DDT.  Great stuff and really gave me a lot of notes for future topics to research.  I have to say that the high-point of the workshop for me was during the tour on the first day when our guide actually was able to let us go in and actually physically lay hands on and get pictures of the Jaguar, Kraken and Gaea super-computers.  Yeah, I'm a geek, but that was frakking awesome!  (Shame I only had my crappy cell-phone camera with me.)

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