The Unofficial Guide To SC09 (Part Two)

Let's use the HPC fist bump this year.

The week before SC is always a busy time for me. And, as usual, I’m behind with everything. I should get caught up sometime in January. Before I dive into some other SC topics, I wanted to provide a public health notice. As many of you know SC is an international conference and most of us get there by sitting for hours in long aluminum tubes packed with other people. Then once we are there we all gather in rooms, breath the same air, shake hands, talk, and generally exchange molecules. The molecules are what I want to talk about. There are some molecule groups that are organized better than others. Indeed, some of these very small molecules have devised ways to make copies of themselves using the cells in our bodies. As these molecules are so small we cannot see them, the best defense is to prevent them from getting to our cell machinery.

Of course I’m talking about H1N1 and other assorted influenza viruses that move through the population this time of year. From 1979 through 2001, an average of 41,400 people died each year in the United States from the flu. To give you some perspective on that number of people, imagine a full football (US) stadium on a Sunday afternoon. Now imagine every other seat is empty due to the flu. You get the idea.

fist-bump-small1.jpg So this year let’s be extra vigilant. Here are the suggestions from the professionals. Wash your hands. Keep you hands away from your eyes, ears, nose, and mouth and use hand sanitizer. I have one more suggestion. I want to introduce the SC fist bump. I propose that instead of shaking hands we do a friendly fist bump. Or if it is someone you don’t like, pretend to accidentally miss and punch them in the stomach. In any case, I’m going to try bumping instead of shaking as a means of slowing those pesky, but highly organized, molecules from spreading during the event. Let’s see how many people we can get bumping.

Back to SC proper. As I mentioned last week, there were a few other things I wanted to talk about. First, there is the Top500 announcement. There is always lively discussion about this topic and what the list actually means. My take is the following; The Top500 is a great idea and it measures how fast we can compute one type of problem. It provides a wealth of historic data that can be used to observe trends and changes in the industry. It is, however, a single data point in the overall performance picture. Keep that in mind when you hear about the latest Top500 list.

One of the reasons I am so busy is I just got some sheet metal back from the shop for my Limulus machine. Back in October 2008, I made a case (no pun indented) for a couple pieces steel bent the right way so that multiple motherboards could be placed in a single PC case. Well, I took my own advice and if all goes well you can come see the results in a corner of the SICORP booth (#1209) next week. I will have a small pedestal to show my LInux MULti-core Unified Supercomputer (Limulus). Stop by and take a look. I’m interested in what you think.

Finally, I want to invite everyone to the annual Beowulf Bash on Monday night. I have been involved in this community event for quite a while. It is a great time to say hello to many old friends and meet some of the people who started it all. This year we tried to pick a location so there would be some areas for casual discussions while the entertainment is playing. In addition, we have a “free an in beer” theme becasue a local HPC company (who wishes to remain anonymous) has donated five kegs of custom brewed beer for the event. The party begins at 9PM on Monday November 16th, 2009 (after the opening gala). We are holding it at the The Game, at the Rose Quarter, One Center Court (one really long block + two short blocks from the convention center, at the Rose Quarter Max Stop). Click Here to see the map. For public transportation information, visit Tri-Met’s website.

Of course I would be remiss if I did not mention the Beobash sponsors; AMD, Econnectix, InsideHPC, Penguin, SICORP, Terascala, Xand Marketing, and ClusterMonkey. I hope to see you there. Stop by and bump me.

Douglas Eadline is the Senior HPC Editor for linuxdlsazine.

Comments on "The Unofficial Guide To SC09 (Part Two)"


This hysteria about flus is going to drive me nuts. To see someone going on about it in a computer magazine is mind boggling. A quick research showed that just as many people are as likely to die, in the USA, from car accidents as they are of the flu. So lets stop driving. Lets certainly not try the \”car bump\”. As if the casual impact between fists will squish the germs and the action will be so brief so as to keep the germs from jumping between people. A better suggestion would be to ask people to be polite and \”not share\” their colds, whether or not its the flu.


I did some quick research:

According to the NTSB[1], There were 45,636 transportation-related fatalities in 2005.

According the the CDC [2] there were 75,766 Alcohol-Attributable Deaths in the US in 2001.

No these aren\’t statistical averages over many years, but it\’s a safe bet to say that transportation kills approximately the same number of people as the flu, and alcohol kills about 68% more.

So if the travel to SC09 doesn\’t expose to at least as much risk as a handshake once we get there, the alcohol being served at the Beowulf Bash will definitely expose us to much more.

Maybe we should all stay home and blog about the evils of alcohol instead.



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