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SC97: High Performance Networking and Computing State of the Field Talks to Feature John L. Hennessy, Ken Kennedy, David Farber, and Pat Hanrahan

Source: HPCwire, June 20, 1997

Over the past ten years, the Supercomputing Conference series has proven an attractive draw for a diverse technical audience. Attendees at SC97: High Performance Networking and Computing, to be held November 15-21, 1997, at the San Jose Convention Center in California, are expected to represent networking, distributed computing, data-intensive applications, and other emerging technologies that push the frontiers of communications and computing. With this diverse audience in mind, SC97 will present "State of the Field" talks, a new feature designed to provide attendees with a valuable source of technical insight that would be nearly impossible to find anywhere else.

SC97 has put together an impressive lineup of experts to lead the State of the Field talks, including John L. Hennessy, Ken Kennedy, David Farber, and Pat Hanrahan. State of the Field talks will allow expert speakers to describe the current state of work in their field, present key open questions, and pose to the audience problems that specialists in other fields might be able to solve. Fostering this type of dialogue will help participants capitalize on the unparalleled accumulation of technical expertise represented in the attendees of SC97.

John L. Hennessy, co-founder of MIPS Computers Systems and currently the dean of engineering and professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Stanford University, will present "Perspectives on the Architecture of Scalable Multiprocessors: Recent Development and Prospects for the Future." Hennessy's presentation will examine the tradeoffs between the use of distributed shared memory architectures and cluster-based architectures in scalable multiprocessor architectures. The talk will focus on application characteristics, such as bandwidth requirements and latency-tolerance, that make one approach or the other more suitable, touch on the trends in scalable multiprocessor architectures, and make projections about what may be possible in the future. Hennessy, a co-author of two leading textbooks in computer architecture, will conclude by discussing the many software challenges that continue to face users of large-scale multiprocessors.

Ken Kennedy will give the second State of the Field talk, on "Programming Support Software for High Performance Computers." Kennedy, who currently serves as co-chair of the President's Advisory Committee on High-Performance Computing and Communications, Information Technology, and the Next Generation Internet, will discuss compilers, run-time libraries, and tools for the construction tuning and debugging of programs for high performance computer systems before turning to an exploration of the challenges faced by developers of programming support software as high-end computer system performance approaches the petaflops level. Kennedy's talk will discuss compiler parallelization, memory hierarchy management, interprocedural analysis and optimization, program construction and management systems, and tools for performance visualization and debugging. The talk will focus on problems arising in support of science and engineering applications and will cover both Fortran and object-oriented languages like Java.

A third State of the Field talk, "The Future of Tele-communications and Networking -- An Attempt to Predict the Unpredictable," will be delivered by David Farber, a member of the President's Advisory Committee on High-Performance Computing and Communications, Information Technology, and the Next Generation Internet. Farber's talk will explore the forces shaping the future of communications, and what and how technologies behind optical and electronic communications technology are apt to merge with future "switching systems" to produce the networking environment of the 21st century. Specific discussions will include the evolution of satellite, terrestrial and radio systems, and how these systems may blend together in the future. Farber will also discuss how such communications systems will impact the computer architecture and software systems of the 22nd century.

Pat Hanrahan, the Canon USA professor of computer science and electrical engineering at Stanford University, will present the final State of the Field talk, "The Visual Computer." Speaking from his research in visualization, image synthesis, and graphics systems and architectures, Hanrahan's talk will cover the importance and purpose of illustration in science, the role of perception in human-computer communication, and the difference between visualization and other means of problem solving. He will then discuss the challenges in building tools and computer systems for interactive visualization.

SC97 organizers anticipate that the State of the Field talks will prove to be a highlight of the conference technical program. "The chance to add to the discussion of the problems in high performance computing between such a diverse and distinguished group of experts is unprecedented," said James McGraw, State of the Field talks chair for SC97 and a research scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. "The talks are a phenomenal opportunity to address cross-discipline solutions to some of the pressing issues confronting the networking and computing communities today."

For more information on SC97: High Performance Networking and Computing and the State of the Field talks, connect to SC97 at, or contact James McGraw at (510) 422-0541 or SC97 is the tenth a series of supercomputing conferences sponsored by ACM SIGARCH and the IEEE Computer Society.

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