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SC18 Supercomputing Conference Sets Records in Dallas, Texas

DALLAS–SC18 marks the 30th anniversary of the annual international conference of high performance computing, networking, storage and analysis. It celebrates the contributions of researchers and scientists – from those just starting their careers to those whose contributions have made lasting impacts.

The conference drew a record-breaking 13,071 (as of 11/15/18) attendees and featured a technical program spanning six days – making it the largest SC conference of all time. In all, the conference and exhibition infused the local economy with more than $40 million in revenue according to the local Dallas Convention Bureau.

SC18 General Chair Ralph McEldowney

“From our volunteers to our exhibitors to our students and attendees – SC18 was inspirational,” said SC18 General Chair Ralph McEldowney. “Whether it was in technical sessions or on the exhibit floor, SC18 inspired people with the best in research, technology, and information sharing.”

Conference Themes:

  • Inspiring the Next Generation & Diversity   
    • This also marked the 4th year of the early career track.
    • A conference highlight related to this theme was the Student Cluster Competition, which features 15 international student teams competing in a non-stop “Iron-Chef’ style challenge to complete a real-world scientific workload, while impressing conference attendees and judges with their HPC knowledge.
    • A shrinking labor force is one of the major shortfalls in the STEM industry. The SC Conference brought together all nationalities, ethnicities, genders, and technical capabilities with the goal of sparking new ideas on how to attract more women, minorities, and young people to HPC.
  • Inspiring the World 
    • HPC has the power and promise to solve world’s most difficult challenges. From hurricane and earthquake predictions to solving global hunger challenges, a main focus of the conference was to demonstrate how the HPC industry is using supercomputing to help make the world a better place.
  • Inspiring the Future of Technology
    • HPC is powering the advancement of artificial intelligence. In technical sessions and on the exhibit floor, the conference explored how HPC is helping AI bring improvements in societies, economies, and organizations.
U.S. Under Secretary of Science Paul M. Dabbar

SC18 Hosts U.S. Under Secretary of Science

U.S. Under Secretary of Science Paul M. Dabbar. He serves as the Department’s principal advisor on fundamental scientific research in high energy and nuclear physics; advanced computing; fusion; biological and environmental research; and has direct management over many of DOE’s national labs that run data-intensive experiments.

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry has made supercomputing a top priority for DOE, providing $1.8 billion for the development of Exascale supercomputers at DOE’s national laboratories – a system capable of a billion-billion double precision floating point operations per second. Supercomputing will transform energy research, scientific discovery, economic competitiveness, and national security.

SC18 SCinet Chair Jason Zurawski

World’s Fastest Network

SCinet gave SC18 attendees the chance to experience the world’s fastest temporary network, delivering 4.02 terabits per second of network capacity to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Dallas this week.

In preparation volunteers installed more than 67 miles of fiber optic cable, including two miles of new underground fiber that now connects the convention center to a downtown Dallas data center. After this year’s conference concludes, that underground fiber will remain in place for the benefit of the city of Dallas.

To deliver WiFi for all attendees across one million square feet of exhibit space, volunteers also installed 300 wireless access points in just one week.

SCinet is made possible by the contributions of 40 industry-leading vendors, who in total donated $52 million in hardware, software, and services.

Exhibit Records

According to Christy Adkinson, SC18 Exhibits Chair from Cray Inc, the SC18 Exhibition broke several records including largest research booth space at 65,000 sq. ft. and more industry exhibitors than ever. Plus, it exceeded the most total number of exhibitors at 364 and was the largest Exhibits ever with over 150,000 sq. ft. occupied. It also featured the first ever “Start-Up” Pavilion allowing small companies just entering the field an economic way to have a presence at the conference. Finally, SC18 featured more 1st time exhibitors than ever.

Content Highlights

For the fifth year, SC featured an opening plenary with a moderated discussion. This year it was “HPC and Artificial Intelligence – Helping to Solve Humanity’s Grand Challenges”. Its focus was on how high performance computing is revolutionizing how we address and manage global issues from solving global food security challenges to preventing epidemics and understanding the impact of environmental health on urban centers.

The Keynote, Erik Brynjolfsson of MIT, highlighted how machines are transforming the role of human decision-making, how digital platforms allow products and services of others to be sold and brokered, and the proliferation of ideas obtained from the general public rather than experts at the core of the business.

The Technical Program again offered the highest quality of original HPC research from around the globe. Among the highlights there were 2 Best Paper Finalists, 5 Best Student Paper Finalists, and 6 Gordon Bell Finalists.

Other highlights included 118 Posters, 38 Workshops, 35 Tutorials, 68 Papers, 15 Panels, 12 Invited Speakers, 9 HPC Impact Showcase talks, 7 Emerging Tech Presentations, and 16 Doctoral Showcases. These represent the best of the best in a wide variety of research topics in HPC.

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