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Performance Optimisation and Productivity

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - POP (Performance Optimisation and Productivity)

Reporting period: 2016-10-01 to 2018-03-31

High performance Computing is becoming a fundamental tool for the progress of science and engineering and, as such, is becoming more and more important for increasing economic competitiveness. The growing complexity of parallel computers is leading to a situation where developers and users do not fully understand the underlying issues affecting the performance of their applications which often results in an inefficient use of infrastructure. Even when application developers are aware of the need to improve the performance and efficiency of their own code, they often do not have sufficient insight as to the root causes of their bottlenecks to be able to address them properly. This may lead to blind attempts to restructure code resulting in an overall lack of efficiency. The objective of POP (Performance Optimisation and Productivity) Centre of Excellence in Computing Applications is to help developers and subsequently businesses address their performance needs so that they can ultimately become more competitive POP is based on the premise that machines will become more and more complex as we approach exascale.

The complexity, scale and variability in behavior for current HPC systems already exposes an important distinction between how developers and users think that applications and systems behave and how they actually behave.
POP offers a service to asses performance of a wide range of computing applications in a wide range of configurations from a few dozen processors to many thousands of processors. POP provides its Customers with detailed analysis of the issues affecting the performance of their code as well as suggests the most optimal way to alleviate these issues. POP targets application developers and users from all domains, including infrastructure operators, academic and industrial users. The estimated number of these applications in Europe is projected at 1500 codes. POP has the ambition of analyzing over 150 of these types of codes within the project lifetime.

However, POP does not stop at the service. POP is working to generate and expand the market. In our target customers (the communities of code developers, users and resource operators) POP aims to provide a recognized high value service that will save on developer effort and make the most of available resources while minimising cost. Based on the services from POP, application developers will make better-informed decisions to drive their work in the more productive direction. Infrastructure operators will ensure that their systems are provisioned in the most efficient way to maximise their Return on Investment. End-users (both academic and industrial) will stop wasting money and time by using applications operating below their optimal levels.

POP is one of the nine CoEs that was selected under the e-Infrastructure call (H2020-EINFRA-2014-2015/H2020-EINFRA-2015-1). POP started on 1 October 2015 and will run until 31 March 2018. The project has received EUR 4 million funding from the European Union‘s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. For more information, visit the project website:
Overall, within POP we identified 1385 leads. POP has contacted people from 26 out of the 28 countries in the EU as well as 3 EFTA countries. According to the CRM, we have 149 POP users so far. Eight editions of the POP newsletter have been published, featuring content from a range of POP partners including ‘recent analysis highlights’, links to success stories on the Blog and advertisement of upcoming events with 515 subscriptions. Currently we have 73 blog articles, the POP LinkedIn group has 79 members and the POP Twitter channel has 420 followers.With respect to the training we co-organised 8 training events and 6 webinars as well as published training material.

Until middle May when the project is preparing the final review the total number POP studies is 191. This includes 169 assesment studies with 139 completed or being reported. Additionally we have implemented 22 Proof of Concepts, with 19 already completed. Even the project has ended, we continue serving the users on a best effort basis. Close to 50% of the POP users had a second service either on the same code or for a different application.

95% of the customer are satisfied with the POP service. During the last months we start to be able to gather quantitative information from few customers on economic savings on Performance Plans and Proofs of concept that appear to be quite positive, although the cases are very diverse: the current feedback includes figures between 1.3 and 10 over one year with an average of 5.4.

We have performed detailed analysis about the sustainability options in POP. Studying three aspects: monitoring the costs of providing the service; estimating in qualitative and quantitative (€) terms the potential gains achievable/achieved by the insight delivered by the service; quantifying the price customers want to pay for it in their current context. This has been reported in deliverable D3.6 along with the plan for working towards long-term sustainability.
In POP we have promoted analysis methodologies and best practices that focus on maximizing the efficiency of the applications by looking at fundamental aspects of their behaviour. Our studies demonstrate to our customers that it is possible to get more performance from their current available resources and the importance of being aware of the detailed behaviour of their applications. The feedback we received shows that the main advantage customers put forward is the better scalability of their code and its capacity to treat much larger models, two things that really matter both in research and in industry where the big challenge is to simulate larger or more detailed items (larger structures, multiphysics, multilevel, ….).

Since about 100 customers benefited from POP services (several of them having benefited from an Audit + a PP + a PoC), assuming that each of them could gain 30k€ - which is reasonable given the figures we got - the expected savings could amount to 3M€.