Interview: Martin Meuer on Continuing Success at ISC

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The ISC’12 conference next week will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of the year for the high performance computing community, To learn more about what goes on behind the scenes, I caught up with Martin Meuer, Executive Director of the Prometeus group that puts on the show.

insideHPC: A show like ISC’12 undoubtedly takes a lot of preparation. Is this a full-time endeavor for your team?

Martin Meuer: Absolutely! We have been preparing the event for around 18 months with a team of 14. For people who are not in this business, the extent of the organizational efforts required for an event the size of ISC is difficult to understand. But believe me: all our team members are more than fully occupied with the preparatory work. By the way, in addition to everything else, we have been preparing the move to Leipzig in 2013 for more than two years now.

insideHPC: What will be new and improved this year at ISC’12?

Martin Meuer: We have prepared a number of new activities for ISC’12; for example, the Student Cluster Competition, which will take place at ISC for the first time. In this competition, student teams from Germany, the US and China will each build a small cluster of their own to demonstrate the greatest performance across a series of benchmarks and applications. But also our conference program with its 31 invited sessions has never been as extensive as this year’s.

insideHPC: ISC has nearly doubled the number of exhibitors from just five years ago. What factors contributed to this success?

Martin Meuer: ISC has seen an enormous growth in importance over the past years – it has become a must-attend event for the worldwide HPC community. This is also reflected in the development of our participant numbers. Over the last 5 years, the number of participants has almost tripled. I am certain that a company or institution that is active in the field of HPC can hardly afford NOT to attend our conference.

insideHPC: insideHPC: Can you please walk us through the conference highlights for the week?

It is difficult for me to make a choice from so many daily highlights. Of course you don’t want to miss the daily keynotes. As for Monday, I am very much looking forward to the TOP500 presentation and, in particular, to the new format (with less slides) of our Hot Seat Sessions, which I believe will be even more interesting and entertaining for the participants.

On Tuesday, Horst Simon will welcome very interesting guests for a cozy chat on Exascale; we never had this format before. On Wednesday, we will be looking into the topic of “TOP500–20 Years Later” as part of our Think Tank Series–there will be 3 different panels that will take place one after another: a vendor panel, a user panel and an analyst panel.

The Conference will end with a spectacular event on Thursday: Addison Snell has again invited interesting people from the HPC scene who guarantee great competence and entertainment for his Analyst Crossfire.

insideHPC: For those in the HPC community unable to travel to Hamburg, will there be any session available to watch on the Web?

Martin Meuer: There will be an Internet live stream of the Opening Session and the Hot Seat Session on the first day of the Conference. In addition, we will record a particularly attractive session every day and publish it on our YouTube channel 2 days later.

insideHPC: I understand that there will be a number of fun activities at the show including Chess and Football. What is that about?

Martin Meuer: This year, we have included a few elements in our Conference that will loosen things up a little, allowing our participants to also connect outside of the main topic which of course is “everything about HPC.” And the fact that ISC is taking place at the same time as the Football World Cup or the European Football Championships has already become a sort of tradition.

insideHPC: Last question: Will we need an umbrella?

Martin Meuer: Hamburg’s weather may be better than its reputation, but once in a while it does rain cats and dogs. However, in the past years, we have always been very lucky with ISC and could always enjoy sunshine. I am optimistic that we will again be lucky with our last show in Hamburg.