Notes from the Conference Call Clustervision/IBM/University of Birmingham
9 September 2009

Present (on the call)

Paul Hatton, University of Birmingham [PSH]
Gerd Busker, Clustervision [GB]
Alex Ninaber, Clustervision [AN]
Antoine Schonewille, Clustervision [AS]
Jim Roche, IBM [JR]
Mark Dunham, IBM [MD]


 John Owen, University of Birmingham [JGO]

Also possibly mentioned in the notes

Peter Watkins, University of Birmingham [PW]
Alan Reed, University of Birmingham [AR]
Aslam Ghumra, University of Birmingham [AG]

Notes from the meeting

  1. The notes from the previous meeting were accepted without any corrections.
  2. The recent filestore and other, maybe unrelated, issues were discussed, mainly from the point of view of communication between all 3 parties involved (Birmingham, Clustervision and IBM) rather than in-depth technical issues. The main points to emerge were:
    1. a round-table meeting at Birmingham to discuss information flow would be valuable all round. AN is planning to visit the UK in the next few weeks; this should be scheduled whilst he is here
      Action AN: circulate proposed date(s) for a debrief at Birmingham
    2. AN clarified that Clustervision and IBM did not give conflicting advice at any stage; PSH accepted this
    3. PSH was unclear on who was responsible for ensuring that all parties were kept informed of advice and suggestions received from Clustervision and IBM. AN suggested that Birmingham should have ensured that this was the case, including forwarding all mails received from, and sent to, IBM to Clustervision but this needs to be clarified in the debrief. Once PSH realised that not everyone was seeing all of the mails he asked AR and AG to ensure that this happened.
    4. a timeline of events as seen by Clustervision and Birmingham would be valuable to inform the debrief
      Action AN and PSH: prepare and circulate independent timelines to inform the debrief
    5. AS said that there were several distinct and maybe unrelated issues that arose at the same time.
    6. AN said that some of the issues would have been noticed by AR and AG if the cluster had been monitored more closely. PSH suggested that a one-day on-site training from Clustervision to AN, AG and PSH on monitoring the cluster, including the time commitment that is needed, would be valuable, and asked for a quotation for this.
      Action Clustervision (not sure who): prepare quotation for one-day on-site training for cluster monitoring
  3. JR has discussed our requirements for shared project filestore with Andy Parker at IBM, who wouldn't recommend the use of GPFS ACLs. The schedule for the regular filestore checks and GPFS update meetings/discussions is yet to be arranged; JR is in conversation with Chris Brown at IBM about this. Clustervision would be welcome to join in these meetings.
    Action JR: set up and circulate schedule for 6-monthly filestore checks and meetings. The first one is tentatively proposed for the third week of January 2010.
    Action JR: circulate Andy Parker's suggestions on managing shared project areas
  4. The DCV server has been delivered. The graphics card has been delivered but the riser card(s) to supply the power from one of the PCI slots are still awaited - there are no spare connectors to the power supplies in the server. XP is the preferred O/S, due to it handling OpenGL better than VISTA/Windows 7; JR pointed out that VISTA includes downgrade rights to XP. PSH will follow this up.
    Action JR: source graphics power riser card(s) for the DCV server
  5. The next User Forum will be on 24 November 2009. The afternoon will be given over to the Meet-the-researchers event, whereby selected research groups, following a general announcement and submission of a half-page or so outline of their work, would be invited to a meeting lasting around 45 minutes to an hour with IBM to discuss their work and possible involvement with IBM - such work would need to be capable of running on BlueBEAR, possibly with a path up to larger resources. IBM delegates would include MD, JR and a Hursley technical representative; Clustervision would also be welcome. Sponsorship for the lunch would be welcome.
    Action PSH: mail out invitation to the User Forum, highlighting the afternoon event
    Action JR: invite a Hursley technical representative to the event
    Action GB: discuss sponsorship of the event with Matthijs van Leeuwen - on past costs, around 7 per head would be good
  6. Rolls-Royce are keen to visit VISTA - they have other priorities at the moment, though.
    Action JR: confirm date for RR VISTA visit
  7. PSH suggested that some relevant demonstration material, especially if it could be displayed in a stereo-capable application such as Avizo, would be useful both for the potential RR visit and in a broader context, maybe to showcase work that is going on elsewhere using IBM systems.
    Action JR: seek out demonstration(s) for VISTA
  8. The cluster usage figures would be of interest; PSH will circulate these.
    Action PSH: circulate usage figures
  9. Cluster-specific MPI training has been previously discussed. PSH has built some applications such as ScaLAPACK and has succeeded with an OpenFOAM parallel build following advice from Aleksander Korzynski before he left Clustervision, along with a great deal of trial-and-error. The need for such training is probably diminishing, although PSH feels that such training would have been very beneficial when the cluster was installed.
    Action GB: discuss cluster-specific MPI training and/or documentation with AN

Next call

9.30, Wednesday 23rd September 2009