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Top 10 Things to Look Forward to at SC17

In this special guest feature, Kim McMahon offers up her annual Top 10 list of things she’s looking forward to as SC17 this week.

Kim McMahon

It’s that time of year we all look forward to! We have been waiting for it all year, preparing, and holding our excitement until it starts! It’s not vacation, it’s not the holidays, it’s Supercomputing! In the tradition started at SC14, here is the pre-show Top 10 things I’m looking forward to at this years SC Conference.

1. Denver
You gotta love it when the conference is in your home town. No airports, no ground transportation, just load up the family truckster and make your way to the convention center area. This year I get to bring my two favorite family members, Connor and Coal, two black labs that will sit nicely with the ever-present hope they will get a cookie.

2. The 50th Top 500!
Mark your calendar for Monday at 11am MT for the announcement of the 50th edition of the TOP500 list. The top 3 systems from the 49th Top500 run at ISC17:
Sunway TaihuLight – National Supercomputing Center in Wuxi China
Tianhe-2 (MilkyWay-2) – National Super Computer Center in Guangzhou China
Piz Daint – Swiss National Supercomputing Centre (CSCS) in Switzerland

Will China maintain its dominance and the top spot? Will the US maintain possession of the most systems in the Top 10? Will we see the emergence of new systems from new countries? We all have to wait until Monday!

3. Project Cyclops
I don’t often talk about any one technology, but this one I just have to mention. Project Cyclops is built by the Radio Free HPC team of Rich Brueckner of insideHPC, Henry Newman of Seagate, Shahin Khan of OrionX, and led by Dan Olds of OrionX. Cyclops is, as Dan describes it, “the biggest baddest single node supercomputer in the world”. Dan predicts that if you compare this system to the other Top500 systems on a node-by-node basis, Cyclops will beat many of those systems. It’s chock full of Intel processors, 1080 ti GPUs, Kingston memory, Seagate flash storage, with cooling managed by CoolIT Systems’ liquid cooling. On display for a limited time, you can see it at the Supermicro booth at SC17.

4. The Student Cluster Competition
I LOVE the student cluster competition! You should too! This is the future of HPC. The student teams build a cluster that can be commercially available, constrained by a 3000-watt power limit. They run a series of benchmarks and applications and the team that runs them the best, wins. This year at SC17, there is one team made up of high-school students. All the teams are amazing; the competitors are getting younger and younger! The competition concludes on Wednesday and awards are presented Thursday.

5 and 6. Plenary and Keynotes
I’ll be honest here, when I attended SC as a vendor, I didn’t make it to the Keynotes and Plenaries. Not sure why – maybe too busy with client meetings, getting the booth ready for the day, or press briefings. But, it has been a mistake. These are not to be missed!

This year the Keynote from Professor Philip Diamond and Dr. Rosie Bolton of the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) project will describe how the SKA’s international partnership will map and study the entire sky through a collaboration to build the world’s largest radio telescope. The HPC Connects Plenary will bring together a panel to discuss smart cities and how the increasing role of HPC working with city governments and planners will “reimagine urban life”. The Plenary is Monday evening and the Keynote is Tuesday morning.

7. All the Things to Do at SC17.
There is plenty to do once you get to SC17. So much that you may not know where to start. To get your started, here are some ideas. The SC conference is holding 2 sessions for Navigating SC – Monday 4:45pm and Tuesday 7:30am. Look at Andrew Jones’ What to Do at SC17. Listen to Radio Free HPC SC17 Preview. SC17 published a blog on Getting Around Denver. Or visit the info booth at SC17.

8. Networking and Reunion of Friends
Networking is – and always will be – an important part of the conference experience. It’s talking to other attendees, attending BoFs, visiting the exhibit floor, and going to after-hours events. Each year brings different events and new people which means more people with whom to network.

I added ‘Reunion of Friends’ to this category because that is exactly what happens. It might be someone you met years ago or someone you met this year; either way, a friend in HPC is a friend forever. The technologies might change each year but the faces and friendships stay the same.

9. High Performance Computing and the Energy
“HPC gets into your blood and under your skin.” I’ve heard this comment time and time again, and I agree, once you start in HPC it’s hard to leave it behind. It’s also about the HPC community: We support each other – driving to better science and advancing technology. There is an energy you feel as you step onto the exhibition floor. The learning you get in the technical programs. All this is HPC and SC17.

10. Post SC
The well-placed timing of the conference gives us US based attendees the the opportunity to go home and rest with the long Thanksgiving holiday. For those outside the US, you get your rest when all your US counterparts are not working over the holiday and emailing you. 🙂

I’d love to hear about the top things you are looking forward to at SC17. Tweet them to me and I’ll share some of them in my post-SC blog!

About the author:
Kim McMahon is the CEO of McMahon Consulting, a full service marketing firm with over 15 years of experience in HPC, Enterprise Technical Computing, and the high-end IT space, working with clients around the globe. Kim has performed sales and marketing for more years than she cares to count. She writes frequently on marketing, life, the world, and how they sometimes all come together.

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