ENCCS Services Survey 2021

Swedish HPC users need dedicate software expert support and more compute capacity

The ENCCS national center is a new initiative that exists a bit over one year, but it already managed to attract the attention of Swedish HPC users and gain their trust.

To ensure the high quality of its services ENCCS tries to look at these through the eyes of the Swedish HPC/AI and HPDA users from academia, industry, and the public organizations. One of the methods used to collect feedback are the annual ENCCS surveys. 

The ENCCS services survey was created by the ENCCS team run during October-November 2021 and was answered by 81 people.

It is interesting to see the sectorial distribution of users which clearly shows that while traditional disciplines dominate the use of HPC there is a clear interest from non-tradition disciplines that need further support to explore the possibilities of HPC.

Question: What is your main scientific discipline or field of work?

It is also obvious that the majority of current HPC users have large datasets and a need for hardware and sophisticated HPC solution for analyses of these data. The use of AI not only in Sweden but in the whole world even within traditional disciplines is increasing and we made the same observation by comparing the results of the surveys for 2020 and 2021.

Question: Do you need to analyse large datasets in your work?
Question: Do you use Machine learning models in your software?

It is also interesting to observe that while the majority are using open-source software, more than half of the users develop their own codes in Sweden. Licensed software is also of a large interest and thus it is a mutual interest both for users as well as for the hardware hosts to continue to work on flattening the hurdles for software license solutions.

Question: Please give us an idea of your regular HPC usage.

In either way, whether the software used is open source or a homemade solution we were very happy to see that most of the Swedish users would be happy to accept the ENCCS research software experts’ dedicated help to improve these.

Question: Would you consider getting help from ENCCS to port your software to LUMI or
other EuroHPC JU systems?

Another observation that clearly indicates the added value of ENCCS training events is the user satisfaction of participants:

Question: Did you like the training format?

In the open for comments fields of the survey the Swedish users gave both their valuable input how to further improve ENCCS training events and their praise which further encourages us, ENCCS team, to continue create services towards user-demands. Attendees also expressed their complete satisfaction about the ENCCS training material library and expressed their wish to always have the material distributed beforehand. Below we share with you few feedbacks from them:

“I think it’s outstanding that we finally have a Swedish organization focusing on advanced training rather than duplication of introduction classes that are already available online.”

“I like the ENCCS training events. It would be great to see more of the advanced-ML courses – I seem to be at a level where ”Intro to ML” classes are no longer useful, but I still have a lot to learn when it comes to higher-level skills and best-practice.”

“The training material is great and I don’t have any suggestions at the moment”

It was also interesting to see that majority of the participants prefer online training or hybrid rather than physical ones.

Question: Do you prefer in-person or online training events?

We have also gave the first attempt to explore the interest of Swedish users towards quantum computing. The graph below shows that there is an obvious interest to explore this field further.

Question: Would you be interested to know more about quantum computing in Sweden?

As a summary of the outcome of the survey to be used for future services of ENCCS we can conclude the following:

  1. There is a large need for HPC resources, especially for analyses of data and the interest towards using HPC in non-tradition disciplines needs to be supported.
  2. There is a large need of dedicated research software engineers’ support for Swedish software for not only porting to GPUs or any upcoming future hardware but also to help researchers to maintain sustainable and robust codes. This will help Sweden to continue to be competitive and have a leading position for HPC software in Europe.
  3. There is a large demand for HPC/AI/HPDA training events and robust, modernized training material in Sweden.
  4. The online or hybrid training are overwhelmingly preferable.
  5. There is strong interest to explore the quantum computing field

In the coming years, ENCCS aims to further continue to work towards satisfying the needs of Swedish users.

For the next survey, the job title should also include CEO, Researcher/software developer at SME, Researcher/software developer at a large company, Researcher/software developer at a public organization. We also need to start exploring the hardware type and size needs of users.