INDUSTRY NEWS

HPC training and education needs highlighted in PRACE survey

30 July 2008



A comprehensive survey of HPC training and education needs has been conducted among the top-tier computational users across all partner sites within the PRACE (Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe) consortium. The survey is among the most comprehensive evaluations of user training requirements and satisfaction ever undertaken by top European HPC users, the results of which will be expected to steer future training and education programmes within the PRACE HPC Research Infrastructure.

Significant trends identified include:

  • There is a deficiency among a significant proportion of the HPC user community (including those with many years of experience in the HPC field) in understanding the fundamental principles of HPC programming and practice on both existing and novel architectures;
  • 93 per cent of users were unfamiliar with Partitioned Global Address Space (PGAS) languages (a programming paradigm that is gaining widespread attention as an alternative model for developing HPC codes);
  • There is a significant shortcoming in expertise with mixed-mode (MPI-OpenMP) programming;
  • Only one-fifth of respondents have received some training in multi-core programming techniques, the majority of which regarded their proficiency as basic or non-existent;
  • More than 90 per cent of respondents believed they would benefit from formal training in the following areas: performance optimisation, debugging tools and techniques, code testing and compiler optimisations;
  • 90 per cent of users considered that there is an important need for improved HPC training programmes.

While many areas of HPC training were highlighted as currently deficient in content and quality, encouragingly the vast majority of respondents were enthusiastic about the opportunity to benefit from training delivered through a PRACE HPC Training and Education Infrastructure.

Over the coming months, members of the PRACE Training and Education team will begin to implement the recommendations presented by this survey via a series of European summer schools, winter schools and workshops, as well as introduce new initiatives for PRACE HPC knowledge and education dissemination.

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