As chair of SC14, I felt compelled to demonstrate concretely how high performance computing (HPC) touches our daily lives in ways that even those of us who work in supercomputing might not be aware. As a result, the SC14 theme became “HPC Matters.” SC14 built on this theme through the HPC Impact Showcase, a forum for those in the industry to share stories about the impact of HPC on their various endeavors, from manufacturing, business management and finance to energy, medicine, urban planning and public safety. The HPC Matters message found echo in the corridors of power in Washington, D.C. Our community was gratified this year to see national recognition that HPC does indeed matter to the security and well-being of our country.
In July, President Obama signed an executive order launching the National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI) with the goal of ensuring continued U.S. leadership in supercomputing. Among the initiative’s guiding principles are fostering “public-private collaboration, relying on the respective strengths of government, industry and academia to maximize the benefits of HPC;” and “applying new HPC technologies broadly for economic competitiveness and scientific discovery.” Particularly important is recognition that collaboration is key to advancing HPC and the technological progress it makes possible.
A fine example of such public-private collaboration is the HPC for Manufacturing (HPC4Mfg) program announced by the U.S. Department of Energy in September. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is leading this new program partnering with Lawrence Berkeley and Oak Ridge National Laboratories. HPC4Mfg partners DOE laboratories with US manufacturers large and small to demonstrate the power of HPC on real crosscutting problems. HPC will be applied both to the development of new clean energy products and to making manufacturing processes more energy and cost efficient. The DOE Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) within the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Office sponsors this program.
HPC4Mfg is about broadening the base, reaching out to areas that underutilize the power of HPC. Larger companies such as Proctor & Gamble and Boeing have successfully used HPC to design better products faster by reducing test cycles. Medium- and small-sized U.S. manufacturers have not had the access or in-house experience with HPC some larger companies have enjoyed. HPC4Mfg aims to break down some of the daunting barriers to the adoption of HPC by smaller enterprises. The benefits of this program work both ways. Collaboration with industry helps the national labs expand their expertise by developing code for a broader set of applications. HPC4Mfg is sharply focused on solving energy problems important to the country’s future prosperity. The potential economic impact is significant and serves as another example of how “HPC Matters.”
As anyone who has attended SC knows, HPC is an international enterprise and matters greatly to a variety of global problems from climate change, to better understanding and responding to natural disasters, to fighting disease and protecting global infrastructure. SC is the largest international gathering of the HPC community, bringing together people from industry, government and academia from over 60 countries. Community and collaboration are a vital part of what the SC conference is all about. The conference was founded on the notion that bringing together the best minds from academia, government and industry was the key to advancing HPC and the science and technology it enables. Growing global participation and competition in HPC reflects the recognition that the ability to compute really matters to the innovation at the heart of a vital economy.
Starting in 2014 and again in 2015, SC will feature an “HPC Matters” plenary session as a way of encouraging prominent leaders to share their thoughts, vision and experience about how HPC is used to improve the lives of people around the world in terms accessible to the broader community. This year’s speaker will be Intel’s Diane Bryant, senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s Data Center Group. Bryant will discuss how next-generation supercomputers are transforming computing and presenting opportunities to advance science and discovery in ways that will likely have far-reaching impacts on society.
A key message from last year’s “HPC Matters” plenary was that the broadening access to HPC has a democratizing effect on improving quality of life. HPC is finding application in ever-deeper and wider aspects of our lives, from meeting our basic needs — such as food, water, energy and shelter — to health, the environment, commerce and entertainment, not to mention offering insight into life’s most profound questions. It is incumbent upon us, the members of the HPC community, to show the world the many and growing number of ways HPC Matters.