Recap of the 4th Meeting of the German Windows-HPC User Group

The 4th Meeting of the German Windows-HPC User Group took place on March 31st and April 1st in Karlsruhe, hosted by the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT). The event was attended by over 70 participants from Industry and Academia. This event has been sponsored by Bull, COMSOL, EMCL @ KIT, Intel, Microsoft and NVIDIA.

After a brief welcome address by the organizators (Wolfgang Dreyer from Microsoft and myself), Rudolf Lohner (KIT) gave an overview of the Steinbuch Centre for Computing (SCC) at the KIT. He was followed by the keynote speak from Microsoft, given by Xavier Pillons (Microsoft Corporation) on Windows HPC Server 2008 R2 and Azure as well as Dryad/DryadLinq. We specifically asked for these two topics, and it turned out that Cloud Computing as well as Data-intensive Computing was the subject of many discussions during this event. After that, Axel Köhler (now NVIDIA) gave a glimpse into the current HPC developments at NVIDIA, including how a pure accelerator-driven supercomputer might look like. He was followed by Dagmar Kremer (BCC), who presented their solution for real-time super-computing on the desktop using Excel. This topic was also on the agendy by popular demand, and apparently the combination of the two keywords “Excel” and “HPC” makes many people interested. The first day was closed by Achim Streit (KIT), who gave his vision on HPC and the Cloud, outlining current projects around HPC as a Service (HPCaaS) for technical computing.

The evening event took place in the ZetKaeM restaurant, after touring the Media Museum, the world’s first and only museum for interactive art. We all experienced some funny exhibits :-). Such an evening event serves well the role of a user group – leading to discussions and thought exchange over a good glass of wine.

The second day started with a keynote address from Vincent Heuveline (KIT) on HPC and hardware-aware computing at the EMCL @ KIT. He was followed by Joachim Redmber (Bull), presenting the Bull way of Supercomputing. Representing a Windows-HPC user, Shiqing Fan (HLRS) outlined their work on implementing and integrating OpenMPI with Windows HPC environments, and apparently they can outperform Microsoft MPI in some benchmarks. Horst Schwichtenberg (Fraunhofer SCAI) gave an example of Excel HPC integration via WCF. As another user contribution, Stefan Truthähn and Martin Steinert (both hhpberlin Ingenieure für Brandschutz GmbH) gave a vivid talk on how they came to use Windows-HPC and HPC in general (more by accident than by master plan 😉 ) and how they see the future of their CFD computations on on-premise as well as Cloud HPC offerings. They were followed by Michael Klemm (Intel), giving an overview of Intel Technology for HPC on Windows. Henrik Nordborg (University of Applied Sciences in Rapperswil) from the Microsoft Technical Computing Innovation Center (MICTC) outlined where he sees an increasing demand for expertise in technical computing (and why) as well as he gave a report on the first activities of the MICTC. The second and final day of the meeting was closed by a talk given by Michael Wirtz and myself on our experience and setting for Windows-HPC for 1000+ users.

All in all, I think this meeting was successful and so far we got positive feedback from the attendees. We plan to have the next meeting our March or April 2012 at an yet-to-be-decided-on location.