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A play-by-play of Australia’s first HPCAC Conference

August saw the first annual High Performance Computing Advisory Council (HPCAC) Conference in Perth. Hosted by the HPCAC and gold sponsored by the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre, BIOS-IT, Huawei Technologies and Mellanox Technologies; the two-day conference saw key HPC players from Australia and around the world attend and present.

During the two days, High Performance Computing (HPC) practitioners and R&D professionals had the opportunity to network, gain, and encourage new insights and ideas in their fields of expertise – essential to driving ongoing progress and future potential. With the conference to be held annually, this is only the start of HPCAC down under!

So, what happened?

Keynote speaker, John Gustafson spoke to the audience on Beating Floats at their Own Game. Concentrating on unum, a universal number format and computation system introduced in his book End of an Error, Gustafson provided explanation as to how unum represents a fundamental change on how to perform calculations automatically, as an extension of floating points without rounding errors, overflow, underflow or negative zero; all with a consistent treatment of positive and negative infinity and NaN (IEEE 754).

The day continued with best practices and industry insights from DATA61, the CSIRO, the Polytechnic University of Valencia, Murdoch University, the University of Western Australia, University of Queensland, BIOS-IT, National Computational Infrastructure (NCI), Huawei Technologies and the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre.

Each presenter provided excellent insights to the use and application of HPC across industry and academia. These topics covered a broad spectrum of areas such as scientific computing, astronomy, bioinformatics, remote GPU virtualisation, climate modelling, data-centric debugging and cloud-based technology.

Closing for day one was Shaun Gregory, the Senior Vice President and Chief Technical Officer for Woodside Energy. Shaun shared his passion of technology and innovation and their roles in transforming business efficiencies. With valuable perspective on the technological advancements of liquefied natural gas (LNG), he explained how the acumen of applying data analytics, IT and cognitive computing from Woodside Energy can be used in any industry or research area.

Once the presentations came to an end, the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre hosted a sundowner for all the attendees of the HPCAC Conference. Visitors had the opportunity to network at the Centre and also tour it, including its white spaces housing Magnus, Galaxy and the I/O and tape cells.

Day two was again opened by Gilad Shainer followed by presentations from Monash University, the Bureau of Meteorology, Mellanox Technologies, the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), the University of Melbourne, DDN, Pelagos Consulting and Education, IBM and the University of Western Australia.

Stuart Midgley of DownUnder GeoSolutions (DUG) gave the End Note for the conference which really highlighted how HPC can be applied commercially. The DUG systems, which were developed for global seismic processing, have now grown to be some of the largest privately owned supercomputers in the world.

To celebrate the end of the HPCAC Conference, DownUnder GeoSolutions welcomed attendees to tour their offices in West Perth, where Stuart shared his experiences in building and operating production computing platforms including a tour of their supercomputing clusters showcasing unique liquid immersion cooling solutions.

So, what’s next?

After a successful event, the High-Performance Computing Advisory Council are excited to announce the Conference will now become an annual Australian event! The next conference down under will be held in Perth in August 2018, with more information to follow!

If you missed any of the talks, or would like to watch them again, HPCAC will soon be releasing video footage of the two days. Keep an eye on Pawsey’s Facebook and Twitter feeds – we will share the videos there as soon as they’re available!

With the next Australian HPCAC event a year away, you can always catch one of their other conferences they host throughout the world. Click here to read more on their upcoming events and latest news.

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