Three-day Event Takes Coding Collaborations in New Directions

NERSC GPU Hackathon
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Like most of the conferences, seminars, and workshops taking place this year across the country and around the world, the recent GPU hackathon hosted by NERSC was a fully virtual affair. Held July 13-15 in conjunction with NVIDIA, the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, and OpenACC as part of the GPU Hackathons series, the event served as an innovative model for what could be the next generation of HPC hackathons.

Traditional hackathons – often referred to as “dungeon sessions” - typically bring together groups of programmers who hunker down in a room for eight hours or more over 3 to 5 days to collaborate on finding new ways to improve the performance of their codes (one perk: food and beverages are provided). But given the current pandemic, the GPU Hackathons are now using a variety of online platforms, including Zoom and Slack, to create a new way of collaborating without the need to leave one’s home.

“It’s the exact opposite of a traditional dungeon session in that you're in your own home, you have your own food, you can get up and move around as you want, you’re not jet-lagged and staying in a hotel for five days – so there’s definitely a positive to that flexibility,” said Kevin Gott, Application Performance Specialist at NERSC, who not only helped organize and manage the July hackathon but also provides continued support to the organizers for other events in the series. Other NERSC participants and mentors at the July hackathon included Jack Deslippe, Laurie Stephey, Hugo Burnie, and Brandon Cook.

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