PhD student internships at HPE
21 February 2023
Two EPCC PhD students, Gabriel RodrÍguez Canal and Mark Klaisoongnoen, are currently undertaking internships with HPE.
One of the popular aspects of studying for a PhD at EPCC is being able to leverage our global network of contacts to generate opportunities. Internships are an obvious an example of this, where students pause their study to spend time with a company and apply techniques they have researched and developed to the company’s problems. Not only does this give experience of how their research can be translated to the real world, but students tend to get paid for this, which is always nice!
Two of my PhD students, Mark and Gabriel, are currently undertaking an internship with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). Both moved from Edinburgh to HPE’s HPC/AI EMEA Research Lab in Bristol in October last year and will be working there until the end of March this year. The lab comprises 17 members who drive diverse research in HPC and in the respective Centres of Excellence (CoE), working closely with clients. For example the CoE covering the national supercomputing service ARCHER2, which is an HPE Cray EX system hosted by EPCC.
Producing the Cray line of supercomputers as well as many other technologies and software developments, HPE is one of the leading companies in the field of supercomputing. Consequently these internships are a fantastic opportunity for both students to work with a company at the forefront of HPC.
Both Gabriel and Mark are exploring FPGAs and I think it’s fair to say that HPE, as per the HPC community in general, has been more focussed on CPUs and GPUs rather than this technology to date.
Fortran for FPGAs
Gabriel is focusing his internship around enabling Fortran programming for FPGAs using High Level Synthesis (HLS). To this point when writing code in HLS one must use C or C++, however many HPC codes are written in Fortran which programmers are familiar and comfortable with. Thus, an initial and often time consuming step when porting to FPGAs is to first translate these into C/C++ which the programmer might be unfamiliar with. The idea of this work is that existing, potentially legacy, Fortran HPC codebases can then be run directly on FPGAs with the programmer then being able to concentrate on tuning their code to the architecture using a language that they are familiar with.
Mark, throughout his PhD, has been working on benchmarks developed by the Securities Technology Analysis Center’s (STAC®), specifically exploring how FPGAs can accelerate these in an energy-efficient manner. This is a fantastic opportunity because, with membership comprising over 400 financial institutions and more than 50 technology vendors, STAC provides industry standard financial benchmark suites representing common workloads. Whilst interning at HPE Mark is continuing to work with these benchmarks, specifically exploring whether they can be accelerated using AMD Xilinx’s new AI engine technology that can be found in their latest Versal ACAP. Not only are the techniques that are being developed of interest here, but furthermore it is also a demonstrator around how beneficial this new technology is to these sorts of workloads.
Access to novel technologies
Another other important benefit of being an EPCC PhD student is access to the latest novel technologies for research. This is especially important for both Mark and Gabriel as throughout their PhDs and internships they are working with the FPGA testbed hosted by EPCC and funded by the ExCALIBUR H&ES programme.
PhD opportunities at EPCC
We have lots of exciting PhD opportunities available across EPCC. Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in novel hardware architectures for HPC (eg RISC-V, FPGAs etc) and/or compilers and runtimes.
The benefits of an internship
Gabriel RodrÍguez Canal, EPCC PhD student
"My internship at HPE has given me an insight into the industrial approach to research. HPE being one of the leading companies in HPC, this opportunity has benefitted my career with new connections and given me a glimpse of the state of the art industrial side of HPC. Our programme included regular seminars on the work undertaken by the lab, which touched on topics that are not directly part of my research and were quite stimulating. Overall, it has been a fruitful experience that has enabled me to gain new skills that I will be applying once I resume my PhD studies."
Mark Klaisoongnoen, EPCC PhD student
"With my PhD research I've been focusing on accelerating financial codes using FPGAs and at HPE I have a wider range of opportunities to work on challenges around how to make such devices easily deployable for HPC users. While working with the EMEA Research Lab, I have gained an overview of HPE's global initiatives and involvements with customers, for instance through their various Centres of Excellence. Overall, the research internship is a fantastic chance to connect with researchers and industry-leading clients in HPC and to explore career opportunities."