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Blue Waters GPU Hackathon

Location: NCSA, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

General-purpose Graphics Processing Units (GPGPUs) potentially offer exceptionally high memory bandwidth and performance for a wide range of applications. The challenge in utilizing such accelerators has been learning how to program them. These hackathons are intended to help overcome this challenge for new GPU programmers and also to help existing GPU programmers to further optimize their applications. Any and all GPU programming paradigms are welcome. We encourage teams working on machine learning and/or deep learning projects to participate.

Hackathon Goal

The goal of the hackathon is for user groups of large hybrid CPU-GPU systems to send teams of at least 3 developers along with either (1) a (potentially) scalable application that could benefit from GPU accelerators, or (2) an application running on accelerators that needs optimization for current and future GPU generations.

There will be intensive mentoring during this 5-day hands-on workshop, with the goal that the teams leave with applications running on GPUs, or at least with a clear roadmap of how to get there. Each team will be assigned mentors who have extensive experience in programming GPUs, many of them are from Dr. Wen-mei Hwu's lab and from NVIDIA, and they are knowledgeable in developing GPU-capable compilers and helping define standards such as OpenACC. These mentors have extensive experience working with science and application teams.

Computing Environment

All participants will have access to GPU systems at the University of Illinois including the Blue Waters computing system and systems supported by the IBM-Illinois Center for Cognitive Computing Systems Research.. For GPU beginners, we recommend starting with OpenACC, but we are open to other GPU programming paradigms (e.g. CUDA, OpenMP4+) for those that have applications that already have some partial GPU port. We also host a number of events on programming hybrid architectures. Please visit the OLCF training events page for more info.

Partner Organizations

The partners in this venture include Blue Waters, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois; the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF); NVIDIA; and IBM.

NCSA will be the host site for the event.

Contact Information

Please send any questions to

Updated: July 28, 2018