GTC2013 – First Day

A bit old, but it’s been a busy conference. First off, I can’t sing enough praises about the Hyatt Place where we’re staying. It’s been a great experience, and the breakfasts so far have been delicious and plentiful. (I’m wonder how many pounds I’ll gain after this conference). Room‘s pretty spacious, more than some other hotels I’ve been in.

Ignoring the false fire alarm and the repeated interruptions by convention staff regarding the false fire alarm, the talks were very informative. Possibly the most impressive technology shown, for me at least, was OpenACC. The simplicity and power of the standard blew my mind. It made it very easy to parallelize programs quickly. The fact that you can use OpenACC with CUDA and/or other libraries makes it very useful. I feel like it would make a great way to start of the Open Source course we had. The ease of using it and being able to see the improvement on many programs can act as a positive reinforcement to students to help raise interest. After all, a lot of students often talk about optimizing their code but rarely do anything that truly results in an improvement. Only downside is that there are currently only 3 compilers that can compile with OpenACC directives and all three are commercial products. The PGI compiler does come with a 15-day trial, so students can do one or 2 labs with OpenACC and see how parallelizing code can benefit existing code.

Another talk I attended was dealing with Nsight. I recall working on TOMO and the variances in values and finding it very difficult to figure out where the error all started. The biggest problem was that with only one graphics card, we couldn’t debug the code because we were using the card to display graphics as well. With the new plugin, it will provide us with the ability to debug CUDA code despite having only one card AND allow us to see the values in each individual thread. I think this will be an invaluable tool for the students learning CUDA and next year will be core to the students experience. Right now, I feel many of the students are still somewhat lost.

End of the day, we had “dinner with strangers” at Il Fornaio. I ordered cannellonni al forno which looks as good as it tastes. The proportion was just right and the price wasn’t too bad. More importantly, after the meal, James decided to take the path less traveled and opted to walk on his own rather than the rest of the GTC folks. After a while we met back up with James and I took the following:

2013-03-18-470

More to come!

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