Hackfest Results in Breakthroughs for Six Scientific Codes

In its first code hackathon, Supercomputing Wales brought together software engineers to achieve breakthroughs on six scientific codes.

Supercomputing Wales, a consortium of four Welsh universities, is celebrating the results of its first hackathon, a design sprint-like event that brought computer programmers and others together to develop software code and improve performance.

In the three-day event, regional software engineers from across Cardiff, Swansea, Aberystwyth and Bangor Universities, supported by mentors from NVIDIA, Atos and Dell Technologies, achieved performance breakthroughs on six scientific codes:

  • Hydro 3D an MPI/Fortran code — the repository for Hydro3D, an open source Large Eddy Simulation code
  • Molpro, a comprehensive system of ab initio programs for advanced molecular electronic structure calculations
  • Darknet, an open source neural network framework written in C and CUDA for CPU and GPU computation
  • HiREP, a set of programs for performing calculations in the framework of Lattice Gauge Theory, a superset of lattice QCD
  • Maxwell NEFEM, Fortran, MPI, potentially looking to port to GPU
  • Sombrero, a benchmarking utility for high performance computing based on lattice field theory applications.

The code hackathon, organized by Dell Technologies and hosted at Swansea University, was part of the Atos – Dell Community Benefits plan for Supercomputing Wales, which promotes University collaboration with the industry.

The mentors from NVIDIA, Atos and Dell Technologies were introduced to fine-tune the initial plan, creating reference material for Regional Software Engineers (RSEs) at Supercomputing Wales to review ahead of the event. The RSEs, in turn, defined code performance objectives, including an As-Is and To-Be model.

The first day’s activity commenced with early profiling of the codes and discussion between the RSEs and Mentors to agree on a plan for performance improvement. The teams huddled at the end of each day to present code improvements and challenges and to share best practices.

In addition to the multiple networking and discussion opportunities among the RSE and Mentors, the activity boosted code performance, enabling Supercomputing Wales to achieve greater ROI on the current infrastructure. 

A Centre of Excellence (CoE)

The hackathon drew on the resources of the Supercomputing Centre of Excellence at the heart of the Supercomputing Wales initiative. This CoE, spearheaded by Atos and Dell Technologies, provides Welsh researchers with a full suite of leading-edge HPC equipment, software and services. The centre provides two supercomputer systems, two Atos BullSequana S Datalake appliances, and on-demand cloud-based supercomputing simulation and services powered by Extreme Factory, HPC on-demand from Atos.

With the HPC systems and expertise of Supercomputing Wales and the Atos Dell Technologies Supercomputing CoE, researchers across Wales have access to the resources they need to simulate and solve complex scientific problems — and keep the nation of Wales at the forefront of theoretical science and technical innovation.

About the Author: Derek Rattansey

Derek Rattansey is a Technology Marketing and Sales professional. He currently leads the Indirect business for Dell’s High Performance Computing and AI business in EMEA, with over 20 years of Technology industry experience Derek Rattansey is focused on creating end customer value by identifying the relevant technology marketing programs that elevate Dell customers business performance and productivity. Derek Rattansey has held a number of technology Sales Manager roles at Dell India and UK, he has an MBA and an MSc in Marketing with a specialization in International Marketing from the Robert Gordon University, Scotland. His specialties include technology sales, business management, product market analysis, marketing and sales programs.