Back from the ISC’10 Tutorials

May 31, 2010

ISC-10I’m just back from the ISC’10 Tutorial Sessions. Getting to and from Hamburg in one day from Düsseldorf is a pretty harsh thing you could do. First, the A1 was basically just a concatenation of construction sites, making it quite a hassle to get there. Means, I got there just on time.

We arrived at the registration desk at 13:20 sharp – Tutorial would start at 13:30. Registration was smooth. Give yer name and company, grab badge, WiFi-details, a map how to get from the CCH to the University and a schedule for all the tutorials.

First thing we didn’t like: The schedule was divided in tracks – there was a CUDA-track, an Infiniband-track, and so on. A lot of lectures in every individual track, but no timeline, when the individual talks should start! It was hard to decide what to do first.

We grabbed our stuff and had a really short walk of probably 5 minutes to the venue. The building was a typical: A huge 1900’s building, huge, massive, a lot of stairs – but eventually we got into the lecture room B, where we wanted to hear the CUDA tutorial.

Unfortunately, the CUDA talk wasn’t anything new. I really think that the slides of this tutorial were actually used in a NVIDIA webinar about CUDA I attended last year! It was a real Deja Vu, and I think they just changed the date on that slides. Gernot Ziegler started up with the tutorial – I thought this would be “big time”, cause we’d get the opportunity to hear someone who’s really into CUDA – he’s with NVIDIA after all. Anyway, he passed over the tutorial to John Stratton, who did quite a decent job, but he was pretty unlucky for he had to reiterate that presentation I already enjoyed last year in the webinar.

Ah, what a wasted opportunity. See, I’d expect more from the ISC when it comes to CUDA than reciting what was told earlier on less specific channels!

My colleague and me stuck to the talk until the long break – some cool things were said about how to abuse the texture-buffer in a clever way to to really local multidimensional computations, but unfortunately it wasn’t elaborated enough. For my taste.

After the long break we decided to hit the Infiniband-talk. Since we deploy large installations we thought that this gives us some insight about how to deploy Infiniband and how to make up migration-concepts of how to get from Ethernet to Infiniband. Sadly, the talk was just a roundup of the available vendors, their products and performance comparison. That’s not really what we expected, we could’ve just looked that data up elsewhere. While the talk was still going on (I think we were on slide 78 of 145) I decided to check the proceedings and see what this talk would be offering in the next hours. Unfortunately it was about to continue like that.
That was the time when we left the hall and went for the “Hybrid MPI & OpenMP Parallel Programming” lecture.

And wow, that was awesome. We got there pretty late, it must’ve been 16:30, but we were basically stunned by the ideas. Basically MPI and OpenMP both have their advantages and flaws. I certainly thought about combining both technologies, but never did for lazy personal reasons. And then those guys just did it: Awesome. In general, if we got out cluster of SMP-systems with multiple sockets and multiple cores we should be running MPI on the outer computing domain, and OpenMPI on socket- or core-layer. This ain’t not new, but they gave me some insight about why you should do it and what pitfalls my arise.

In the end, I thought I should have sticked to the last tutorial in the first place. Coming back to my first complaint, there wasn’t a real schedule, which is sad. We couldn’t decide to go to which tutorial first since we had no idea when all those lectures were taking place. If the ISC continues to give those tutorials, they should improve their schedule.

Then again, since my collegue and me were both attending the CUDA-talk, we already elaborated on the spot how we could use CUDA in our usecases. We just got rough ideas, but sitting together, listening to that talk wasn’t just a waste of time.
It brought us together.

Now I’m back at home and don’t feel too bad about the ISC lectures – Now I feel sad that I’m not able to attend the rest of the ISC. But I got to work on Monday. Which is in… omg, in about 8 hours.

Good night! I’ll be putting links to this posting tomorrow evening.