Project Start Date

01st Jul 2013

Cracking codes for optimised data management

ICHEC started off as a customer of DDN, a global HPC data storage company who solve HPC and enterprise big data challenges, a data storage infrastructure provider and high Performance Computing storage market leader. The partnership between DDN and ICHEC started in 2013 and over the past three years DDN has worked with ICHEC on several initiatives; Real-World code optimisation projects with DDN’s largest customers, delivering 2x improvements from basic tuning using a structured approached and award winning blended team of technical skills. The results achieved and the technical competency displayed by the ICHEC team was endorsed by DDN at Supercomputing 2015 in Germany in front of international audience of industry leaders. This partnership has enabled DDN to collaborate with ICHEC and Tullow Oil PLC on research calls as part of our work with LERO.

Dr. Micheal Browne presenting ICHEC's results at SC14 in Germany

From Customer to Collaborator

ICHEC started out as a DDN customer, they bought a national supercomputer for academic and industry and they had a really good understanding of what they required in terms of data storage and access,” explains John Sheahan, Head of Sales Operations for EMEA with DDN. The company and ICHEC soon realised their strengths were complementary, according to Sheahan. “At DDN we had great expertise on hardware, HPC parallel file systems and getting High Performance Computing solutions running and ICHEC were experts on the software side, in applications, code optimisation and sequencing jobs,” he recalls. “We got on really well and we identified opportunities to collaborate.” 

Cracking Codes

One of those opportunities was for energy company Saudi Aramco, which needed software to run more quickly for seismic analysis in oil and gas exploration. “ICHEC came on board as consultants to help overcome issues with the software code,” explains Sheahan. “There were lots of cynics in the room, but ICHEC turned them into advocates when they sped up the code by a factor of four to five and proposed further recommenced changes that could be made down the road.”

Another opportunity came from within DDN, which is developing a new “Burst Buffer” hardware/software combination called Infinite Memory Engine (IME) that seeks to speed up High Performance Computing systems.“At DDN we produced rough code - a basic idea of what we wanted,” says Sheahan. “Then we invited some of our best tech-savvy customers to collaborate with us and develop the code further.” ICHEC more than rose to the challenge, he notes: “We put this code development problem out to major organisations in the US and Japan, but ICHEC was the only organisation that was able to get the code up and running.” 

HPC vision

“I am involved in developing a strategy for High Performance Computing for Ireland,” Sheahan says. “We want to create a vibrant environment with strong expertise and a supporting infrastructure with easy access to all businesses, both large & SME. ICHEC’s expertise means its place is front and centre in Ireland’s HPC environment in the coming decades.” 

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University of Galway
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