Implementing a Strategy for the Promotion of High Performance Computing in the UK

M. Cross, M. Keech H. Liddell, J. Steel, C. Walshaw, and P. Welch

The application of high performance computing (HPC) has advanced dramatically over the past few years, and is acknowledged as a key enabling technology for the future. However, the exploitation of such resources beyond traditional areas is hindered by a range of real and perceived issues.

In the UK the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) of the Higher Education Funding Councils has recognised this and, through its New Technologies Sub-Committee (NTSC), is funding six regional centres to provide training and education for staff and postgraduates, together with course materials, in order to make high performance computing pervasive throughout higher education. The scheme set up under this initiative offers training to anyone in UK universities who wishes to use, and more especially to teach, high performance computing in the next few years.

The London and South East centre for High Performance Computing (SEL-HPC) has recently been formed and brings together a consortium comprised of the London Parallel Applications Centre, the University of Greenwich, the University of Kent & the University of London Computer Centre. The sites have considerable complementary expertise in all aspects of HPC and excellent contacts in both industry and academia. In addition, a network of associate sites is being established in the region with the aim of encouraging the large numbers of research and educational groups who could benefit from HPC, but who lack a point of contact with available resources and expertise.

Since its launch in May 1994, SEL-HPC has rapidly implemented a comprehensive portfolio of courses, materials and online resources in the field of HPC. In particular, it is well advanced towards developing, presenting and packaging the full set of training materials for some dozen courses addressing a variety of aspects of HPC. Topics include: an introduction to HPC; a number of courses on appropriate programming languages and paradigms; parallelisation tools; using clusters of workstations; and remote use of high performance systems, including data visualisation.

Perhaps more importantly SEL-HPC is fully exploiting the information technology explosion with two highly popular online information resources. The parallel archive, maintained as an adjunct to the Higher Education National Software Archive, is accessible through the World Wide Web URL http://www.hensa.ac.uk/parallel and provides a heavily used repository of software and documentation. Meanwhile the centre's own homepage, accessible via http://www.lpac.ac.uk/sel-hpc includes the pioneering HPC document archive (papers, reports, journal articles, etc.) which can be both searched and or augmented by Internet users world-wide.




Fri Aug 13 13:43:18 BST 2004