Arrival in Ostrava
Before entering into project-related details in the next post, I wanted to briefly write about the training week and share the experience of arriving for the first time in Czech Republic, Česká republika.
Note: since I would like everyone (versed or not in the subject) to understand these posts, but also to keep it to a pretty detailed level, all the concepts that may sound confusing for a newbie will be hyperlinked to an article or a video where an explanation is given; this applies to all the posts that I will publish from now on. Now, let’s go…
The training week at CINECA was a great time from a personal perspective, as I mentioned in my previous post. But it was also very interesting in terms of what we learned. Even if I had some experience working with clusters, learning how to program in order to exploit the capabilities of the architecture of the specific computer that you are working with is a very valuable piece of knowledge. Basically, it helps you to treat a computer from a different mindset, taking more into account the hardware that is actually available to you. This is especially true for the case of someone like me, who is an aerospace engineer with limited programming knowledge in low-level languages (although a programmer would not agree with me in the definition of low-level language, for sure…).
The journey towards Ostrava was enjoyable. I spent almost the whole flight from Bologna to Praha (no exonyms here) talking to a very nice Czech guy who seemed to know everything about his country. All the fears of coming to an unknown country were gone by the end of the flight.
The next stage was getting the train towards Ostrava. The ticket to cross the country from West to East ends costed less than a meal. Which is particularly surprising if one takes into account that meals are here way cheaper than in Western Europe. The blue train connecting Praha and Ostrava (among other cities), called the Pendolino, is not extremely fast but is great to get an overview of the country.
Once in Ostrava, it was easy to realize that many people do not speak English; not a single word. However, this is not a great deal since they are generally very welcoming and try to help you anyhow.
The arrival at the accommodation site was smooth and the hotel happens to be just a few meters away from the supercomputing centre. By the way, the IT4Innovations National Supercomputing Centre is a brand-new almost futuristic building, a very confortable place to work in.
Setting aside the aesthetics, the supercomputer center owns several HPC clusters with different characteristics. The main ones are Anselm (3344 cores, over 94 TFLOP/s theoretical peak performance) and Salomon (24192 cores, over 2 PFLOP/s theoretical peak performance ). Next year they are planning to add a new petascale one, which will rank among the best ones in both Europe and the world.
In a few days time, I will publish a post talking about the details of the project and the first steps, but I thought it was first important to write about the context in which it will be developed. I hope everyone enjoyed it.