November 2006 A
High Productivity Computing Systems and the Path Towards Usable Petascale Computing
Jeffrey C. Carver, Mississippi State University
Lorin M. Hochstein, University of Nebraska, Lincoln
Richard P. Kendall, Information Sciences Institute, University of Southern California
Taiga Nakamura, University of Maryland, College Park
Marvin V. Zelkowitz, University of Maryland, College Park; Fraunhofer Center for Experimental Software Engineering
Victor R. Basili, University of Maryland, College Park; Fraunhofer Center for Experimental Software Engineering
Douglass E. Post, DoD High Performance Computing Modernization Office

3.6 Use of Support Tools during Code Development

Overall, tool use is lower than in other software development domains: Both the ASC and the MP Codes tended to view integrated development environments (IDEs) as being too restrictive. Instead, they liked the flexibility of UNIX-style command-line tools, such as make and shell scripts, to use for building applications. A complicating factor for wide tool use is that the target machines do not support the development tools that are available to programmers in other domains. Conversely, developers from both ASC and MP Codes did make some use of HPC-specific tools such as performance monitors and parallel debuggers.

Third party (externally developed) software and tools are viewed as a major risk factor: Because the code developed by the MP Codes tend to take years to develop, they are not willing to put their development at risk by relying on a software package or tool that may not be supported in the future. Furthermore, the ASC teams were concerned with the portability of libraries, which decreased their likelihood of use.

4. Conclusions

In this paper, we have summarized our findings from a series of case studies conducted with ten ASC and MP Codes as a series of observations. Due to different environments in which each code is developed, some of the observations are consistent across code teams while others vary across code teams. Overall, we found high consistency among the ASC Codes and the MP Codes. Due to the different environments and foci of these projects, this result is both surprising and positive. In addition, despite the fact that a large majority of the developers on these teams have little or no formal training in software engineering, they have been able to make use of some basic software engineering principles. Further education and motivation could increase the use of these principles and further increase the quality of scientific and engineering software that has already demonstrated its value.

Based on the positive results thus far, we have plans to conduct additional case studies to gather more data in support of or in contradiction to the observations presented in this paper. In future case studies, we will strive to investigate codes from additional domains, thereby allowing broader, more inclusive conclusions to be drawn.

Acknowledgements This research was supported in part by Department of Energy contract DE-FG02-04ER25633 and Air Force grant FA8750-05-1-0100 to the University of Maryland.
1 DARPA HPCS - www.highproductivity.org/
2 Hochstein, L., Carver, J., Shull, F., Asgari, S., Basili, V., Hollingsworth, J.K., and Zelkowitz, M. "HPC Programmer Productivity: A Case Study of Novice HPC Programmers". In Proceedings of SuperComputing. 2005. p. 35
3 Post, D.E., Kendall, R.P., and Lucas, R.F., "The Opportunities, Challenges, and Risks of High-Performance Computing in Computational Science and Engineering", in Advances in Computers. p. 239-301.
4 Kendall, R.P., Carver, J., Mark, A., Post, D., Squires, S., and Shaffer, D. "Case Study of the Hawk Code Project," Technical Report, LA-UR-05-9011. Los Alamos National Laboratories: 2005.
5 Kendall, R.P., Mark, A., Post, D., Squires, S., and Halverson, C. "Case Study of the Condor Code Project," Technical Report, LA-UR-05-9291. Los Alamos National Laboratories: 2005.
6 Kendall, R.P., Post, D., Squires, S., and Carver, J. "Case Study of the Eagle Code Project," Technical Report, LA-UR-06-1092. Los Alamos National Laboratories: 2006.
7 Post, D., Kendall, R.P., and Whitney, E. "Case study of the Falcon Project". In Proceedings of Second International Workshop on Software Engineering for High Performance Computing Systems Applications (Held at ICSE 2005). St. Louis, USA. 2005. p. 22-26

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Reference this article
Carver, J. C., Hochstein, L. M., Kendall, R. P., Nakamura, T., Zelkowitz, M. V., Basili, V. R., Post, D. E. "Observations about Software Development for High End Computing," CTWatch Quarterly, Volume 2, Number 4A, November 2006 A. http://www.ctwatch.org/quarterly/articles/2006/11/observations-about-software-development-for-high-end-computing/

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