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HPC researchers rank 'availability of resources' as their primary challenge

Initial results of the Scientific Computing World (SCW) survey for HPC researchers have shown that availability of time on HPC systems, support for your application and influencing the choice of software run on HPC systems are major challenges for scientists and researchers that use HPC facilities to run their simulations.

The survey has now been live for one month and the results are helping to highlight topics which represent the challenges that HPC users face in supporting HPC research.

Several themes have emerged as a priority for HPC researchers. Respondents cite that availability of time on HPC resources as the primary concern. However, applications support and the ability to influence software choices also rank highly among our readers.

More than 72 per cent of researchers rated finding availability of time on HPC systems when it was needed as either very challenging or a ‘major headache’. This was number drops slightly when looking at ‘support for your application’ with 63 per cent of researchers noting this as a primary challenge.

Influencing the choice of software run on HPC system was reported as either very challenging or a ‘major headache by 62 per cent of survey respondents.

Several other issues were raised in qualitative responses, grouping these by theme highlights another set of key issues which also relate to those listed above.

For example, when looking at the topic of access or availability of HPC resources survey respondents also found that low-level access to the HPC infrastructure, prioritisation of jobs, ease of obtaining an allocation of HPC time and wait times in job queues were all topics that were listed as challenges.

Support is another theme that was raised by many of our survey respondents which garnered further responses from a wide variety of respondents. Specifically, documentation, active support teams or access to support teams were all listed as challenges that researchers face. 

Respondents were asked to highlight what they think might help or ease the process of using HPC resources for their research. While there were a wide number of topics covered access through cloud or mobile job scheduling and more access to HPC resources were noted.

Support was another area that was listed here but there are some specific things researchers think would make their lives easier. Widespread training on the efficient use of HPC, best practices, recommendations for a workflow system, debugging tools, code porting support, graphical interfacing options, and standards were all raised by our survey respondents.

The survey is still available and SCW encourages anyone who uses HPC for their scientific or industrial research to take part as this will help us to create content that more accurately reflects our readership.


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