Marc Snir on Why Argonne is Part of the OpenHPC Community

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Marc Snir

Marc Snir

The OpenHPC Blog has posted a feature interview with Dr. Marc Snir, Director of the Mathematics and Computer Science Division at Argonne National Laboratory. Snir discusses why ANL is participating in the OpenHPC Community.

The Department of Energy (DoE) has always been a supporter of open source software development. Open source is excellent for sharing information and expertise, and for complete transparency. But software development lacks cohesion. Much of the software that is running on HPC platforms currently is open source — that’s a good thing — the problem is that each group is developing independently of other groups and software is rarely comprehensively tested. So it’s always a large effort to make sure that the different pieces work with each other. OpenHPC can be a good mechanism to make sure all the pieces of open source software in HPC fit well together. It’s an important initiative that can bring together the HPC open source software community. It can make sure that a full stack of HPC software is available in a useful manner to the user community. ANL has participated in other groups, naturally, either pushing standards or making available software. Just one example is MPICH, a freely available, portable implementation of MPI, a standard for message-passing for distributed-memory applications used in parallel computing. ANL has been involved with MPICH development for over two decades. But OpenHPC has the opportunity to be all-encompassing, covering a full HPC software stack, and also be system agnostic, so it will run on anyone’s platform, assuming the relevant vendors are involved. Different groups have their own releases on their own platforms. It would be much easier if there was a distro that would make sure that different versions are up-to-date and compatible with each other. It would be much easier for application development, allowing cross-platform support.

openhpc2Mark Snir is one of our Rock Stars of HPC. He is also an Argonne Distinguished Fellow, AAAS Fellow, ACM Fellow, and IEEE Fellow, Snir has published influential papers and given many presentations on computational complexity, parallel algorithms, parallel architectures, interconnection networks, parallel languages, libraries, and parallel programming environments.

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  1. Great insight into our major software challenges and how potentially OpenHPC will help to tackle them. The challenge of any software is the testing, evaluation, and availability across all kinds of HPC platforms, be it powerful workstations, HPC servers, and any HPC cloud. And the next big effort is that all pieces of an HPC software stack work with each other and can easily be shared across different HPC platforms. OpenHPC indeed can be a good mechanism to make sure all the software pieces in HPC fit well together. And one well-suited tool to achieve this is the OpenHPC software container, It can make sure that a full stack of HPC software is fully tested, evaluated, and available in a useful manner to the whole HPC user community.