HPCwire Readers’ and Editors’ Choice Awards Turns 15

San Diego Supercomputing Center and Open Science Grid recognized at SC16.

A hallmark of sustainability is this: If you are not serving a need effectively and efficiently you do not last. The HPCwire Readers’ and Editors’ Choice awards program has stood the test of time. Each year, our readers from the global HPC community recognize the outstanding organizations, technologies and use cases across science and industry. Launched in 2003 at Supercomputing in Phoenix, Arizona, the program is celebrating 15 years of honoring achievement in HPC.

Each year, several months before SC, HPCwire’s worldwide readership is polled to determine Readers’ Choices and a panel of industry luminaries decides the Editors’ Choices. Inaugural award winners honored at SC03 included Cray, IBM, SGI, Cisco, Sun, Linux Networx, Dell, EMC – and Apple. Lest anyone forget Apple’s foray into high-performance computing, its System X installation at Virginia Tech, comprised of dual-processor Power Mac G5s, was once the fastest academic supercomputer in the world.

UNC-Chapel Hill and RENCI win 2016 Best Use of High Performance Data Analytics Editors’ Choice award for their work predicting storm surges, including Hurricane Matthew.

Tom Tabor, publisher of HPCwire, recalls the awards program was conceived from a desire to recognize compelling and worthwhile HPC success stories. From an initial pool of 12 categories, the program has reflected the growth and broadening impact of high-performance computing beyond its roots in academia and government.

“With the proliferation of HPC, it became obvious and apparent that we needed to have broader recognition of breakthrough applications and technologies,” Tabor said. Over the last decade-and-a-half, the awards have expanded to encompass cloud, data analytics and multiple industries and science uses.

Women in HPC recognized at SC16 for leadership in workforce diversity.

In 2014 and 2015, the program added Workforce Diversity and Outstanding Leadership award categories, reflecting the importance of inclusivity and social contributions in the space.

Notable winners are too many to list in a short writeup, but here’s a sampling of community favorites:

  • SDSC, TACC, Open Science Grid, XSEDE & UNL’s Holland Computing Center for verification of the groundbreaking LIGO gravitational wave discovery – 2016 Top Supercomputing Achievement Readers’ and Editors’ Choice
  • Earlham Institute for its research analyzing the highly-complex wheat genome using the SGI UV 300 platform to address the pressing global issue of food security – 2016 Best Use of HPC Application in Life Sciences Editors’ Choice
  • NASA Ames Pleiades supercomputer for the NASA Kepler Mission discovery of new planets in the Milky Way (with contributions from Intel and SGI) – 2012 Top Supercomputing Achievement Readers’ Choice
  • The Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratories with Cray, AMD, and Nvidia for leading development of the Titan supercomputer, the fastest supercomputer in the United States, widely utilized for science and industrial use cases – 2012 Best HPC Collaboration between Government and Industry Readers’ Choice
  • Women in HPC for promoting the participation of women in technical computing by providing fellowship, education, and support to women and the organizations that employ them – recipient of Workforce Diversity Leadership Awards in 2015, 2016, 2017

In shining a spotlight on important scientific and technical achievements, the awards program raises public awareness of HPC’s vital role in advancing society and helping us better understand the world around us. On the Monday night of SC, when HPCwire officially announces the winners to the media, there is a flurry of global press activity.

“The night of the SC gala and the next day, you’ll see these stories appear in the Tokyo Times, in the London papers, in the German news outlets, all around the world,” said Tabor. “It’s another arrow in the HPC quiver, broadening the awareness of HPC not only globally, but to a broader layperson audience.”

“Programs that have that popular accessibility go a long way in spreading the word about the reliability, stability and importance of HPC,” Tabor continued. “The unique value of our Readers’ and Editors’ Choice Awards is their focus on meaningful applications and productivity use of HPC, whether it’s leadership DOE supercomputing or automotive or financial services or life sciences. When we recognize groups like UNC-Chapel Hill and RENCI for improved storm forecasting or the Earlham Institute for sequencing the wheat genome, all of a sudden you begin to see how much HPC contributes to society and our quality of life.”

“It was a stroke of genius to have both the Reader and Editor categories, since this encouraged your readers to think about what the big breakthroughs are each year,” commented Larry Smarr, founding Director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) and the visionary behind the National Science Foundation supercomputing centers.

He continued, “I have been fortunate enough to be directly or indirectly involved with a number of these awards over the years. I have the awards proudly displayed in my office at Calit2. Congratulations on 15 years of the awards program, may you continue for another 15!”

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