Supercomputing 2011 - Part One

This is the first of a number of blog posts that I'll be making over the next week from Supercomputing 2011.  This is my first time at Supercomputing (the 24th in the series) which this year is being held in Seattle.

I'm here to take part in the Education Program, more about that later, first some stats about the conference.

  • SC11 is the biggest Supercomputing conference to date.
  • The conference has over 10,000 registered attendees for the Technical Program (the "main" conference)
  • The conference is spread over the Washington State Convention Centre (WSCC), The Conference Centre (TCC) and several of the surrounding hotels as the conference has outgrown the convention centre.
  • The conference has an App to help you navigate the huge program and also a Conference Store (which I assume will be selling conference branded merchandise)
  • 2,200 of the attendees are from overseas
  • Around 250 people are taking part in the Education Program which is part of the "Communities" branch of the conference. 
  • 900ish are involved in the Communities branch of the conference.
  • The conference runs from 12-18th November, the technical program runs 14-18th.
  • SCinet - the conference network, built just for the event, is a 450Gbps network (45x our KAREN network core!)

The conference website is:
The full schedule for the conference is also online:

The Education Program is aimed at Educators who want to incorporate Computational and Data Enabled Science and Engineering into their teaching.  I'm here to see how this is done, and if eResearch in New Zealand can benefit from this type of offering.  The Education Program runs from to today (Saturday 12th, US Time) through to the 15th (Tuesday).

The first day (today) of the education program is also the longest, starting at 7:30am with registration and laptop signout through to finish at 9pm at the end of the Resource Fair and Social event.
The education program is split into a number of streams running in parallel, Computational Thinking, Mathematics, Physics, Biology, Engineering.  The day started with an "overview" of Supercomputing with the take away messages being Supercomputing boils down to the tyranny of the storage hierarchy and parallelism.  Sessions explore each of the streams in more detail, with the focus being on how to teach rather than just learning how to do.

The day concluded with a combined Broader Engagement & Education Program Resource Fair, where students presented posters of research work they were undertaking.  The fair presented some really interesting work, and I had some great conversations with students, including two female students that presented their personal stories of getting involved in HPC - take home message: catch them young, high school or earlier!

SC11 promises to be a great event, the only problem that I forsee is too much interesting stuff happening at the same time! 
Some highlights that I'm expecting

  • LittleFe Cluster Buildout - building small clusters that fit into a standard luggage allowance.
  • Scientific Visualization Showcase
  • Exhibit Hall - possibility to play Jepoardy against Watson
  • Conference Dinner/Social in the Space Needle :)

Lots more is happening over the week, lookout for more blog posts as the week progresses and a final one on my return to NZ on "what this means for NZ"

I must also make note of the Education Program sponsor, intel, who have provided loan laptops for many people, me included to run the Education Program software on.

Submitted by stuartcharters on