Inside Extreme Scale Tech|Thursday, October 30, 2014
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More Help for the Missing Middle: This Time from DOE 

A recent meeting in Chicago has started a process that could have far-reaching ramifications for small- to medium-sized manufacturers (SMMs) and other small businesses.

The workshop, sponsored by the Department of Energy (DOE), introduced independent software developers to no-cost tools and applications to aid in the transition to multicore systems. The software resources were developed through the DOE’s Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing (SciDAC) program.

The event, described in the report below, has generated considerable momentum. For example, DOE’s Benjamin (Benjy) Grover will present the results of the workshop at the first meeting of the National Center for Manufacturing Science (NCMS) Digital Manufacturing: Strategic Interest Group (DM SIG) to be held July 12-13, 2011, in Troy, Mich. The DOE will be announcing research grant topics through the Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) grant program to help ISVs leverage these tools and applications.

This is a great first step in helping provide resources to small ISVs so they can enhance their software offerings.

ORNL and LBNL Organize First SciDAC Software Workshop

Approximately 60 software experts gathered in Chicago on March 31 for the first Workshop for Independent Software Developers and Industry Partners, sponsored by DOE’s Advanced Scientific Computing Research office. Jointly organized by Lawrence Berkeley and Oak Ridge National Laboratories, this workshop introduced independent software vendors (ISVs) and industrial software developers to software resources that can help ease the private sector’s transition to multicore computer systems. These tools, libraries and applications were developed through DOE’s Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing (SciDAC) program to enable DOE’s own critical codes to run in a multicore environment.

The cost and difficulty of scalably parallelizing legacy codes (codes written for nonoperational or outdated operating systems or computer technologies) often are prohibitive to independent software vendors, particularly if they are small businesses. They also hamper many firms that, for proprietary and competitiveness reasons, maintain their own code in addition to using commercial options. The problem is becoming acute as desktop workstations and small clusters are rapidly being designed and built using multicore processors.

The one-day workshop was an important contribution to addressing these hurdles. It gave participants an overview of the SciDAC program and over 60 SciDAC-developed software packages, and outlined the process to obtain them, often at no-cost. In addition, DOE explained its role in providing research grants through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) grant program. This program ensures that the nation’s small, high-tech, innovative businesses are a significant part of the federal government’s research and development efforts. Workshop participants then provided feedback on private sector software development requirements that could help DOE shape future SBIR research topics and jumpstart areas for collaboration.

“SciDAC has spent a decade developing world class software to ensure DOE can operate successfully in a multicore environment,” explained David Skinner, workshop co-chair and director of the SciDAC Outreach Center at Lawrence Berkeley. “The private sector software developers who participated now have direct links to key developers who can provide expertise in developing software for multicore systems, as well as help guide integration of SciDAC software into commercial applications. We hope to extend these links to those who could not attend.”

The workshop’s participants represented 49 organizations, including small and large ISVs, companies with internal software development capabilities, academic institutions, other national laboratories and high-performance computing (HPC) system vendors.

“This event launched a new opportunity to leverage DOE’s investment in SciDAC for an additional return on investment for the country,” said fellow chair Suzy Tichenor, director for the HPC Industrial Partnerships Program at Oak Ridge. “Most of the ISVs and companies that attended had never heard of the SciDAC program. Now they are aware of SciDAC’s valuable software resources and how to access them.”

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