Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Dipping my toe back into super computing

I've been out of university and working in IT for a good few years now and held several different roles along the way. When I started work I was doing an internal support role after which I moved to my current department, Emerging Technologies, where I've held several roles including being an emerging tech specialist and working for IBM's Linux Integration Centre.

I've used the attention-grabbing title for the work I very much enjoy doing but due to certain circumstances thought I had left behind in my career. Super computing sounds very grand and conjures up all sorts of ideas along with other grand titles for the type of work I do such as Beowulf Clustering. The term I prefer, but can also be misleading, is High Performance Computing (HPC). There are all sorts of misconceptions about HPC but easily my favourite is when people pretend to joke, but expecting a serious answer ask something like “Wow, how many frames per second can you get on Quake with that?”.

The opportunity has come up for me to go back to this area for a one-off project, working with some of my ex-colleagues. I'm very much looking forward getting stuck in as the work is usually interesting and my old team are fantastic. As ever with these projects, there are an enormous number of unknown's at the start of the project. I already feel at home knowing the list of things we don't know yet – where the hardware is right now (delivery due soon), what the software stack will be, firmware levels, network layout and design, naming conventions, management and monitoring required, storage requirements, job scheduling, operating system, tweaks and configuration, etc. That's all part of the fun though, I get to work things out along the way and fill in the gaps for areas that, for no fault of their own, people just don't think about answering until implementation time. The kick-off meeting is due soon now so I'm looking forward to getting people to think about all the tiny details I'll need in order to supply our customer with the best suited system I can.


OzBeefer said...

what are you computing with all those supers?!?!? if I hear another person say they're doing climate modelling I'm seriously going to...complain on my blog...........

Anonymous said...

It's not for climate modelling, although I have done that in the past! I don't actually know what it's going to be used for yet as we've still not held the kick-off meeting.

It's been a while since I've checked in with your blog. I tend to pretty much exclusively use feed readers these days but for some reason the RSS on yours is broken :-(