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Eurohack 2020: Scientific GPU programming hackathon

Oct 08, 2020

Between September 21 and 30, 2020, the Swiss Supercomputing Centre CSCS hosted the sixth GPU programming hackathon “Eurohack 2020” – if only in a virtual format due to the pandemic. Changing hardware architectures require model codes to be adapted to these new architectures. More and more supercomputers, like e.g. Piz Daint at CSCS, are based on architectures employing graphics processors (GPUs) as accelerators.

Nine teams, mainly from Switzerland, Germany and Sweden, were selected to work during these 1 1/2 weeks together with mentors from CSCS and NVIDIA on preparing their respective applications for GPUs. These covered a broad range from climate modeling to astrophysics and electrophysiology. A team of DKRZ employees participated with an important part of the ICON ocean model code. After a introduction of each team, as well as their applications and goals for the hackathon, the remainder of the first week was used to work intensely with their respective mentors on the code. In the second week, the days started with short updates from the teams in the plenary in order to discuss with the other participants the progresses they made and difficulties they encountered. On the final day, the hackathon finished with presentations from all the teams, in which the achievements from the past ten days were presented.

For the DKRZ team, the main goals were to gain more experience in GPU porting with OpenACC and to produce a version of the model code that can run efficiently on GPUs. Both goals were well and truly accomplished and the know-how gained can now be put towards further GPU porting tasks.

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