Supercomputing Matters: SC14 in Retrospect

SC14, the premier event in the HPC industry, has wound to a close in New Orleans. It’s interesting to look back and contemplate the validity of this year’s theme, “HPC Matters,” the success of the conference and the vitality of the industry. Our industry has seen the ebb and flow of the relevance of supercomputing, and the fortunes of Cray have often paralleled those of this event (or visa versa). This year was no exception and SC14 was a resounding success for Cray and for the industry. With more than  10,000 attendees and 356 exhibitors it was a full show and the work never stopped. As I walked the show floor — logging about 5 miles a day — I was struck by the number of Cray customers. They were everywhere, either with booths of their own or partnering in booths and presentations. A highlight was seeing the Cray® XE6™/XK7™ “Blue Waters” system from NCSA and the Cray® XC30™ “Piz Daint” system at CSCS on the big screen in a partner booth running live demonstrations of these powerful Cray systems and showing how much they matter for today’s science. I stopped counting Cray customers with demonstrations or booths at 30.

Cray participated in a successful technical program at SC14, perhaps the strongest on record with 394 technical submissions, 21% of which were accepted. We contributed a wide range of technical content that spanned hardware, systems and software, including:

  • Tutorials and papers on advanced parallel programming using Chapel and OpenACC, and on optimal performance management and metrics;
  • BoFs on Chapel, Partitioned Global Address Space (PGAS) programming, OpenACC and job schedulers;
  • Emerging technology talks on Chapel; and
  • A panel on exascale.

On the sales and marketing side, the Cray booth was a hub of activity on the show floor with a refreshed product portfolio and unique demonstrations, including a cybersecurity demo based on the SCInet fabric and done with the Cray® Urika-GD™ graph discovery appliance. Cray also boasted what I believe was the coolest swag of the show, our “Keep Calm and Go Cray” t-shirt.

The legendary Cray reception was well attended by about 1,200 conference-goers — over 10% of all attendees. As always it was a great time to network and get business done in the low-key atmosphere Cray is famous for.

This year’s SC conference, in which both big data and traditional supercomputing played a part, was among the most successful for us. While there was some popular press around the slowing of growth in the Top500, the energy surrounding the intersection of supercomputing and big data belied the simplistic notion that one metric, Linpack, can define our industry. Supercomputing does matter and this conference made that clear in many ways. It’s also clear that the marriage of big data and supercomputing is likely to make HPC matter even more in the future.

If you didn’t see us in New Orleans, join us next year in Austin, where the theme will be “HPC Transforms.” Come and see how Cray and our customers are transforming our world and future.


To close out, here’s my view of SC14 by the numbers.

450,000: miles traveled by Crayons to/from the conference

24,000: pounds of Cray gear shipped to the booth and briefing areas

10,198: registered SC14 attendees

2,000: miles walked by Crayons in New Orleans

1,300: attendees at the legendary Cray reception

596: Cray mentions in other press releases and articles

504: Abita Ambers and Restoration Pale Ales served at the opening night gala

356: exhibitors from industry, academia and research

142: Cray attendees

48: Abita Root Beers served at the opening night gala

30: number of words Sung-Eun Choi (Chapel engineer) rattled off during her 6-second Vine video promoting the Chapel Lightning Talks BoF

28: Top100 Cray systems

10: number of systems Cray added to the Top100 this year

6: programmers in the Cray-sponsored Student Cluster Competition team from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville

6: HPCwire awards for Cray

5: number of times Brad Chamberlain (Sr. Chapel engineer) went to Cafe du Monde for beignets (always with Chapel enthusiasts)

5: Cray press releases

5: hours of sleep averaged per night by Cray employees

4: number of flights Cray CEO Pete Ungaro flew in coach

Countless: number of times Pete said, “Thank you for your business”

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