Chapel at SC14: Making Big Easy

It’s been a big year for the Chapel team at Cray. In the past 12 months, we’ve doubled the size of our team, and with that expansion have been able to significantly accelerate the strides we’re taking. Here are a few notable accomplishments that occurred in 2014:

  • Released two new versions of Chapel, the most recent of which, version 1.10, was made available on Oct. 2. Across these two releases, we’ve made significant performance improvements, enhanced our standard modules and I/O support, added initial support for Intel® Xeon® Phi Knights Corner (KNC) and continued refining the language’s productivity-oriented features.
  • Held our first Chapel Implementers and Users Workshop (CHIUW) at IPDPS in May, highlighting work being done in Chapel at Cray and across the broader community.
  • Fostered new collaborations with Colorado State University, AMD, the University of Copenhagen and ETH Zürich, while maintaining our existing collaborative efforts; we’ve also kicked off exploratory new initiatives of our own such as exploring Chapel’s utility for big-data computations and support for an interpreted Chapel environment.
  • Modernized our development process, including moving our source repository to GitHub, switching to the Apache v2.0 license and contributors agreement, using Travis to perform pre-merge sanity checks, managing our nightly regression testing with Jenkins, using Coverity scans to identify code quality issues and more.
  • Continued our outreach activities, speaking at summer schools hosted by Argonne and Livermore National Laboratories, as well as venues such as SIAM PP14, PADAL 2014, (SICM)**2 and the Northwest C++ Users’ Group. Slides for all of these presentations can be found on the Chapel website, with accompanying video footage when available. In addition, we wrapped up our three-part blog series, “Why Chapel?” and launched a Chapel Programming Language Facebook page.

In November, members of the Chapel community will be taking this energy and excitement to SC14 in New Orleans, where we have a number of events planned, all geared toward conveying our vision of making the programming of large-scale parallel systems far more productive than ever before. Or, as the title of this post suggests in tribute to New Orleans: Making Big Easy.

Here’s a quick run-down of where you can find Chapel at SC14 (further details can be found on our Chapel SC14 page):

  • Chapel tutorial: A Computation-Driven Introduction to Parallel Programming in Chapel. We’ll kick off SC14 with a half-day tutorial on Sunday morning. If you or your colleagues would like to learn how to program in Chapel, this is the place to be. This year, we’ll be taking a new approach, using sample computations to drive our introduction to Chapel.
  • Exhibition floor: Chapel Hierarchical Locales: Adaptable Portability for Exascale Node Architectures. Throughout the week, we’ll have a spot in the Emerging Technologies Booth, featuring our ongoing work to support user-defined locale models for flexibly targeting emerging node architectures. Stop by to learn about this effort or to chat about Chapel more generally — we’ll tend to have someone staffing this booth anytime the show floor is open and there aren’t conflicting Chapel events.
  • Chapel Lightning Talks BoF: In the Tuesday afternoon Birds-of-a-Feather (BoF) slot, we’ll be holding our fourth annual “Lightning Talks” session, highlighting Chapel-related work being undertaken throughout the broad community in compact five-minute talks. This year’s talks will span diverse topics such as using Chapel with heterogeneous architectures, with distributed file systems and cURL, for productive expression of advanced tilings, with LLVM and more. The session will wrap up with an open Q&A session involving all speakers.
  • Emerging Technologies Talk: On Tuesday, Greg Titus will be speaking about Chapel’s hierarchical locales concept in the Emerging Technologies Theater from 4:30-5pm.
  • Chapel Users Group BoF: This year, we’re kicking off our first-ever Chapel Users Group BoF in the Wednesday evening slot. This BoF will start with an abbreviated introduction to Chapel for any attendees who are unfamiliar with it. We’ll follow this with a review of recent Chapel milestones and events, as well as a preview of our next steps. From there, we’ll transition into an open discussion to answer any questions about Chapel and solicit the community’s input for priorities and strategies for Chapel’s future.
  • CHUG Happy Hour: After the users group BoF, we’ll migrate to a nearby pub for our annual CHUG (Chapel Users Group) happy hour. This will be the fifth annual gathering, the first of which was also held in New Orleans as part of SC10. We invite all who are interested in socializing with others interested in Chapel to join us.
  • Additional Chapel presence at SC14: In addition to the Cray-led events above, Chapel will also be highlighted at other SC14 events. At the Tuesday night posters session, Ian Bertolacci of Colorado State University will present his work on productively expressing diamond tilings using Chapel abstractions. Members of the Chapel developer community will also be speaking in community BoFs on broader topics, such as LLVM, data locality abstractions and PGAS.

We hope we’ll have the chance to meet and talk with many of you at SC14 at one or more of these events. If you’re unable to attend the conference, we encourage you to keep tabs on the Chapel project throughout the year at, on the Chapel Facebook page or via one of our mailing lists devoted to announcements, users, educators or developers.


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