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HPC Innovators

Meet some of today’s innovators in HPC and networking

The SC11 Communications Committee and Scientific Computing magazine have teamed up to produce a series of articles profiling innovators in high performance computing and related areas. Twice a week, new profiles will appear, with short introductions posted here and linked to the full stories.


Two Giants of Genius — An Homage to Iconoclasts

If you remember the affectionate names given to the Cray systems that supported Lucasfilm/Pixar development of what would eventually become a massive revolution in animation then you probably feel the same pangs of emotion at the passing of yet another beloved innovative genius, namely, Steve Jobs. Most people would not easily correlate parallels between Steve and Seymour Cray. There are many, and they are equally symbolic of supercomputing - though from different ends and inflections within the spectrum of the definition and industry. Read the full article.

Tom Murphy: Finding Innovative Ways to Help Students Survive and Succeed

Tom Murphy isn’t one of those teachers who thinks the best way to get students to learn is to pack their heads full of ideas and concepts. Instead, he’d rather have his students figure out the best ways to pack powerful computing systems into briefcases, suitcases and small shipping boxes. As a computer science professor at Contra Costa College, a community college 15 minutes from Berkeley and an hour from Silicon Valley and Stanford, Murphy has come up with a number of innovative approaches to teaching his students about high performance computing. Read more.  Read the full article.

Latin America's HPC Growth Agent: René Luna-Garcia

Central Mexico has been a hub of culture and commerce for as long as humans have gathered there. As early as A.D. 750, this region was inhabited by over 100,000 people, and was known as the “Place of the Gods.” Today, Mexico City is the growth center of high performance computing in Mexico and greater Latin America. At the heart of this scientific computing nexus are Centro de Investigación en Computación at Instituto Politécnico Nacional (CIC-IPN) and Professor René Luna-García. Read the full article.

Leading ESnet to the Next Level of Innovation: Steve Cotter

As science becomes more data-intensive, whether due to massive amounts of data collected by experimental facilities or increasingly detailed simulations on supercomputers, that same research is in turn increasingly reliant on networking. For most of its 25 years, the Department of Energy’s Energy Sciences Network, better known as ESnet, has been a critical but relatively quiet component in supporting DOE’s research missions. That began to change about four years ago when ESnet deployed its Science Data Network, a system that could be configured to provide dedicated end-to-end virtual circuits to accommodate the direct transfer of massive datasets. The stage was set for the next level of innovative networking in August 2008, when Steve Cotter left Google to become just the third person to lead ESnet. Read the full article.

Of SuperHEROES and Superpowers in Supercomputing

Last June, in the midst of a nation reeling from the most devastating natural disasters in its nearly 3,000-year history, the high performance computing (HPC) industry quaked in its own surprise with the debut of the newest leader on the Top 500 list of the world's fastest supercomputer — the “K-Computer” at the Advanced Institute for Computation Sciences (AICS) at RIKEN Center in Kobe, Japan.

RIKEN's “K-Computer” presented the HPC industry with nothing less than its own Tsunami effect. The RIKEN team, led by Dr. Kimihiko Hirao, Director of the Planning Office for the Advanced Institute for Computational Science, and Deputy Director of Next-Generation Supercomputer R&D Center at RIKEN, was able to deliver nothing short of a miracle with the system itself, in addition to displacing the top Chinese Tianhe-1A system from the number one position China had hoped to maintain for several iterations of the biannual Top 500 release.Read the full article.

The Art of Science — Visualize the Possibilities

Kelly Gaither is a major driving force in HPC visualization, development of large “superdisplays” comprised of large, tiled viz-walls in dealing with large data and parallel systems. As Director of Visualization at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC), she currently hosts one of the world's largest scientific visualization “SciVis” systems, and is helping to mature many programs and techniques now broadly recognized as another critical pillar in scientific method and discovery. Read the full article.

Exciting Times in Africa

Happy Sithole is pioneering all aspects of research and technology frontiers on behalf of South Africa and across the continent. Happy has been integral to numerous African "firsts," beginning with the inauguration of South Africa's Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC) in 2007, which featured the first Top 500 system listing for Africa - now playing host to numerous academic and industry research projects to bridge the nation's technology divide and greatly extend its global reach. Read the full article.

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