Jul 10 – 11, 2017
Europe/London timezone

ARCHER, the UK's national supercomputing service, offers training in software development and high-performance computing to scientists and researchers across the UK. As part of our training service we will be running a 2 day ‘Hands-on Introduction to High Performance Computing’ training session.

This course provides both a general introduction to High Performance Computing (HPC) using the UK national HPC service, ARCHER, as the platform for the exercises.

On completion of the course, we expect that attendees will be in a position to undertake the ARCHER Driving Test, and potentially qualify for an account and CPU time on ARCHER.

Familiarity with desktop computers is presumed but no programming, Linux or HPC experience is required. Programmers can however gain extra benefit from the course as source code for all the practicals will be provided.


High-performance computing (HPC) is a fundamental technology used in solving scientific problems. Many of the grand challenges of science depend on simulations and models run on HPC facilities to make progress, for example: protein folding, the search for the Higgs boson, and developing nuclear fusion.

The course will run for 2 days. The first day covers the the basic concepts underlying the drivers for HPC development, HPC hardware, software, programming models and applications. The second day will provide an opportunity for more practical experience, information on performance and the future of HPC. This foundation will give the you ability to appreciate the relevance of HPC in your field and also equip you with the tools to start making effective use of HPC facilities yourself.

The course is delivered using a mixture of lectures and practical sessions and has a very practical focus. During the practical sessions you will get the chance to use ARCHER with HPC experts on-hand to answer your questions and provide insight.

This course is free to all academics.

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this course students should be able to explain:

  • Why HPC? - What are the drivers and motivation? Who uses it?
  • HPC Hardware - Building blocks and architectures
  • Parallel computing - Programming models and implementations
  • Using HPC systems - Access, compilers, resource allocation and performance
  • The Future of HPC
  • Undertake the ARCHER Driving Test.


Attendees are expected to have experience of using desktop computers, but no programming, Linux or HPC experience is necessary.


Day 1

09:30  Welcome, Overview and Syllabus
09:45  LECTURE: Why learn about HPC?
10:15  LECTURE: Image sharpening
10:30  PRACTICAL: Sharpen example
11:00  BREAK: Coffee
11:30  LECTURE: Parallel Programming
12:15  PRACTICAL: Sharpen (cont.)
13:00  BREAK: Lunch
14:00  LECTURE: Building Blocks (CPU/Memory/Accelerators)
14:30  LECTURE: Building Blocks (OS/Process/Threads)
15:00  LECTURE: Fractals
15:10  PRACTICAL: Fractal example
15:30  BREAK: Tea
16:00  LECTURE: Parallel programming models
16:45  PRACTICAL: Fractals (cont.)
17:30  Finish

Day 2

09:30  LECTURE: HPC Architectures
10:15  LECTURE: Batch systems
10:45  PRACTICAL: Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD)
11:00  BREAK: Coffee
11:30  PRACTICAL: CFD (cont.)
12:30  LECTURE: Compilers
13:00  BREAK: Lunch
14:00  PRACTICAL: Compilers (CFD cont.)
14:30  LECTURE: Parallel Libraries
15:00  LECTURE: Future of HPC
15:30  BREAK: Tea
16:00  LECTURE: Summary
16:15  PRACTICAL: Finish exercises
17:00  Finish

Course Materials


JCMB 4325c
The University of Edinburgh James Clerk Maxwell Building Mayfield Road Edinburgh EH9 3JZ
This course is part-funded by the PRACE project and is free to all. Please register using the online form. If you have any questions, please consult the course forum page or contact epcc-support@epcc.ed.ac.uk. Information about how to find the James Clerk Maxwell Building (JCMB) can be found on the School of Physics and Astronomy website. Note that parking on the King's Buildings campus is by permit only, and that parking just outside on Mayfield Road is restricted before 09:15 and after 16:30 - and cars will be removed (with a hefty fee payable to get your car back) if parked there during the restricted times. Unrestricted free parking is available on nearby Hallhead Road, Ross Road, Blackbarony Road and Gordon Terrace to the east of the campus, and along the north side of the campus on West Mains Road. A number of B&Bs and hotels can be found approximately 10 minutes' walk from EPCC, including: * Smiths' Guest House, 77 Mayfield Road, Edinburgh EH9 3AA * Mayfield Lodge Guest House, 75 Mayfield Road, Edinburgh EH9 3AA * Highfield Guest House, 83 Mayfield Road, Edinburgh EH9 3AE * Lauderville Guest House, 52 Mayfield Road, Edinburgh EH9 2NH * Glenisla Hotel, 12 Lygon Road, Edinburgh EH16 5QB * Glendale House Guest House, 5 Lady Road, Edinburgh EH16 5PA There is also the Travelodge Cameron Toll, 43 Craigmillar Park, Edinburgh EH16 5PD. Note that the room price does not include breakfast.