Collaboration, collaboration, collaboration

Author: Adrian Jackson
Posted: 15 Jun 2016 | 13:35

This week sees our annual collaboration workshop with Tsukuba University, Japan (more details are available here).  This is a great chance to get a flavour of the kind of research another HPC centre is undertaking, how they work, and what platforms they are investing in.

The Centre for Computational Sciences (CCS) at Tsukuba is a department very like EPCC, in that it is responsible for high performance and parallel computing at the university, runs and supports large-scale computers for researchers, and undertakes parallel computing research.

Closing the gap: Software Carpentry training for women

Author: Guest blogger
Posted: 14 Jun 2016 | 10:24

Aleksandra Pawlik, former leader of the Software Sustainability Institute’s training activities, shares her thoughts about training aimed at women working in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

Closing the gender gap in STEM is a broad topic. Increasing diversity and female participation at all levels of education and professional world in science and technology is a subject of lots of debates. The Software Sustainability Institute has hosted a series of blog posts on Women in Software. Different perspectives from the authors of these posts show that there are many challenges and many ways they could be addressed. 

Investigating power use in parallel computing

Author: Mirren White
Posted: 3 Jun 2016 | 16:09

The Adept project has been working hard for over two years to further understanding of how power is used in parallel software and hardware, and we are now on the finishing straight. 

It's a good time to take stock of our achievements and reflect on how to focus our efforts in the final phase. Also to consider life after the project ends: how do we want to exploit the technologies we have developed and the knowledge we have gained? How do we ensure a lasting legacy for Adept?

Fortissimo Marketplace: a one-stop-shop for modelling and simulation services

Author: Mark Sawyer
Posted: 3 Jun 2016 | 14:34


A consortium of Europe’s leading supercomputing centres and HPC experts is developing the Fortissimo Marketplace, a one-stop-shop where end-users will access modelling and simulation services, plus high-performance data analytics.

Software engineers + screwdrivers = ?

Author: Iain Bethune
Posted: 31 May 2016 | 15:32

Block diagram of a computer

I'm firmly of the opinion that one of the best ways to understand how computers work is to get hands-on with hardware. Many of us will have at some point come across a block diagram of a computer - maybe something like the one on the right.  That's all well and good, but there's something about physically taking something to bits and putting it back together that helps you understand how everything fits together.  

With that in mind, over the last year I've been helping develop a STEM outreach activity based on the idea of building PCs.  We first trialled it at Bang Goes The Borders 2015, and ran a workshop at the Edinburgh International Science Festival earlier this year, and kids as young as 5 have been able to successfully get a PC running from scratch.

NEXTGenIO: a step towards Exascale

Author: Mirren White
Posted: 27 May 2016 | 10:15


The NEXTGenIO project represents a step along the Exascale pathway.

We are developing a prototype platform that utilises the latest developments in memory technology, and that will offer vastly improved I/O performance compared to current HPC machines. The system will be developed end-to-end by the project partners – from inception through to delivery, with a full suite of systemware that can make use of the new technologies.

Large Synoptic Survey Telescope: data-intensive research in action

Author: George Beckett
Posted: 24 May 2016 | 09:49

This is an exciting time for astronomy in the UK, a fact that is reflected by our involvement and leadership of some amazingly ambitious new telescopes.

A number of recent, significant discoveries have propelled astronomy research into the spotlight. The discovery of dark matter and dark energy at the beginning of the 21st century over-turned our understanding of how the Universe works. And the first observation of a gravitational wave earlier this year confirmed Albert Einstein’s long-standing hypothesis precisely 100 years after it was first published in his general theory of relativity.

ExTASY: smarter simulations for chemists

Author: Mario Antonioletti
Posted: 23 May 2016 | 14:43

Last week I attended an ExTASY tutorial here in Edinburgh. The project aims to build a set of Extensible Tools for Advanced Sampling and Analysis (hence the name) to allow chemists who use computational methods and off-the-shelf molecular dynamics (MD) packages (such as GROMACS, AMBER and NAMD) to be cleverer and more efficient with their simulations.

The Extasy-based tools are well worth considering if you are doing MD calculations. If you want to be smarter about how you do your simulations, take a look at ExTASY.

Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry instructor-training in Edinburgh

Author: Giacomo Peru
Posted: 18 May 2016 | 17:13

On the 4th and 5th May 2016, the Software Sustainability Institute hosted a joint Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry instructor-training course here in Edinburgh.

The workshop was led by Steve Crouch, the Institute’s Research Software Group Leader, and Aleksandra Pawlik, the Institute’s Training Leader. The event was attended by 15 participants from a number of UK research organisations, including one from a Spanish university. These newly trained instructors will soon join the impressive UK instructor pool of almost 70 certified Data Carpentry and Software Carpentry instructors.

Software design in scientific computing

Author: Adrian Jackson
Posted: 10 May 2016 | 00:07

Useful software design

Prompted by a recent discussion of a blog post discussing applying commercial development techniques to academic software development, I've been trying to formalise the software design process I'd recommend to academic software developers.

Just the term, software design, puts a lot of people off. It sounds like a long, elaborate process, full of requirements capture and storyboards, but it really doesn't have to be. I think anyone who is writing programs will be doing some form of software design, even if that design is just following the process they've always used, but are just not formalising it. However, formalising your software design could bring important benefits.