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High-Performance Computing (HPC) Showcase at the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition 2013

ICHEC stand at the BTYSTE. Dr. Martin Peters at the ICHEC stand during the BTYSTE. Siobhan Ryan from Met Éireann presenting 3D weather data to students (Aisling Kenny and Graham Dwyer) from Colaiste Dun Iascaigh, Cahir, Co. Tipperary. Minister Sean Sherlock TD and Dr. Martin Peters at the ICHEC stand during the BTYSTE. Dr. Michael Lysaght presenting the latest in accelerator and coprocessor technology to students at the BTYSTE. Three students from St. Joseph's Mercy Secondary School, Navan, Co. Meath investigating the Raspberry Pi Cluster. BTYSTE 2012 Winners at the ICHEC stand. Dr. Michael Lysaght presenting the NVIDIA K20 demo to students at the BTYSTE. Dr. Sean Delaney presenting 3D weather data to students at the BTYSTE. Dr. Turlough Downes (DCU Lecturer and PRACE User forum Chair) and Dr. Michael Browne (ICHEC Technical Manager) at the ICHEC stand during the BTYSTE. ICHEC staff with Mr. Marc O'Regan from Dell who sponsored the network switch for the Raspberry Pi cluster and give-aways at the stand. Siobhan Ryan from Met Éireann with students from Colaiste Dun Iascaigh, Cahir, Co. Tipperary at the ICHEC stand. Three students (Aisling Kenny, Marguerite Bulter, and Ciara Creagh-Peshau) from Colaiste Dun Iascaigh, Cahir, Co. Tipperary viewing 3D weather data. Dr. Martin Peters and Colm O'Donovan from Mount St. Michael, Rosscarbery, Co. Cork who won a Raspberry Pi Starter Kit and User Guide. Dr. Sean Delaney presenting HPC to students at the BTYSTE. Mr. Alastair McKinstry presenting 3D weather data to students at the BTYSTE. Mr. Gilles Civario at the Intel Xeon Phi demo at the BTYSTE. Niamh O'Brien from St. Joseph's Mercy Secondary School, Navan, Co. Meath studying the Raspberry Pi Cluster. ICHEC staff that ran the stand during the BTYSTE. Dr. Michael Browne and Marc O'Regan from Dell at the stand. Raspberry Pi cluster at the ICHEC stand during the BTYSTE. An example audience during presentations at the ICHEC stand.

At the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE), 10th-12th January 2013, ICHEC showcased all things supercomputing to primary and secondary level students at the RDS, Dublin, Ireland. At the stand in the World of Science & Technology Hall ICHEC displayed a fully configured live mini "supercomputer" built from the relatively cheap Raspberry Pi boards, 3D scientific visualisations of climate and weather data, presented the latest in accelerators/coprocessors and ran introductory sessions into HPC.

Over 200 schools visited the ICHEC stand to understand the utility of supercomputering. Students and teachers attended from schools all across Ireland including Donegal, Cork, Kerry, Galway, Dublin, and Antrim.

Stand Design

The initial idea to organise a stand at the BTYSTE started in early September 2012. The PRACE-3IP project had started in July and gave us the opportunity to fund its delivery.

ICHEC BTYSTE Booth Plan ICHEC BTYSTE Booth 3D Plan

ICHEC Stand at BTYSTE Plans.

The banners were designed by Proviz Ltd. and can be seen below:

ICHEC BTYSTE Booth Banner LHS ICHEC BTYSTE Booth Banner RHS

ICHEC Stand Design at BTYSTE.

Stand Promotion

A landing page was created and distributed to schools through social media channels. The following flyer was also used to promote the stand:

ICHEC BTYSE FLYER 1 ICHEC BTYSE FLYER 2

Download Flyer - PDF Version

Stand Description

The stand was divided into three areas: 1) Mini supercomputer; 2) NVIDIA K20 and Intel Xeon Phi Demos; 3) Live presentations in 2D and 3D.

Mini Supercomputer

A fully operational cluster, PICHEC, was be constructed from eight-networked Raspberry Pis (RPis) and was housed in a transparent enclosure so that students could see the inner workings of the parallel machine. Coloured cables (Power, Ethernet) were used to visually aid the students to understand how the cluster was constructed and how all the networked RPis worked as one. The mini cluster was built as described by Prof. Simon Cox from the University of Southampton in the UK and connected to a display to view various parallel computations including: a parallel Game of life and ray tracing demo. An additional RPi was used to allow students interact will the individual components of the board.

ICHEC BTYSTE Raspberry Pi Cluster

ICHEC BTYSTE Raspberry Pi Cluster.

NVIDIA K20 and Intel Xeon Phi Demo

The latest technology, K20 accelerator, from NVIDIA and Intel, Xeon Phi coprocessor, was showcased at the stand. NAMD Molecular dynamics simulations ran on the K20 while our Sudoku demo was used to illustrate the utility of the Xeon Phi.

ICHEC BTYSTE Intel Xeon Phi Demo ICHEC BTYSTE Intel Xeon Phi Demo

ICHEC BTYSTE Intel Xeon Phi Demo. Computational Scientists, Gilles Civario and Michael Lysaght discussing the demo with Jon Marshall, Senior Technical Marketing Engineer, from Intel.

Live Presentations

On demand presentations were delivered to students at the stand on all things supercomputing. Seating for 12 students was provided at the presentations, with others often standing behind them. The 2D presentations outlined the need and use of supercomputing, the role and function of ICHEC and introduced HPC in Europe (PRACE).

A 3D visualisation was also available and demos at the end of each presentation were be delivered. These include:

  • HARMONIE Model: Numerical weather model, HARMONIE, currently been used by Met Éireann in Ireland and other countries explored at 2.5km and 0.5km resolutions. A cloud-resolving regime can be realised at a higher resolution.
  • Ash Cloud Model: A low-resolution chemistry-aware climate model of the ash cloud over Europe during 2010.
  • Irish Sea: An ECOMSED sedimentation model of the Irish Sea from Prof. Harnett’s group in NUI, Galway used to track pollution from Sellafield (Nuclear waste treatment facility).

Handouts

Two handouts were made available to students. The first described the Raspberry Pi cluster. Download Raspberry Pi Flyer here. The second flyer outlined the 3D visualisations and accelerator/coprocessor demos at the booth. Download the 3D Visualisation and Accelerator/Coprocessor Flyer here

Raspberry Pi Raffle

Four Raspberry Pi Starter Kits and User Guides were raffled during the event. One on Thursday, two on Friday and the fourth on Saturday. Over 300 people entered the raffle from over 200 students across Ireland. The winners were from
  • Ardscoil Mhuire Corbally, Co. Limerick
  • St. John Bosco Senior School, Navan Rd. Dublin 7, Co. Dublin
  • Mount Saint Michael, Rosscarbery, Co. Cork
  • Marino School, Church Rd., Bray, Co. Wicklow

ICHEC BTYSTE Raffle Winner

Martin Peters and Colm O'Donovan from Mount Saint Michael Rosscarbery.

Final Comments

We were blown away with the response at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition and the number of students, teachers and parents that stopped and discussed HPC with us. We hope those that we interacted with now have an appreciation of supercomputing and its utility.

We look forward to exhibiting again at the event next year on its 50th anniversary.