SC17 Denver, CO

Teaching Parallel Computing with Container Virtualization

Workshop: Workshop on Education for High Performance Computing (EduHPC)
Authors: Joshua Higgins (University of Huddersfield)

Abstract: Incorporating modules that equip students with parallel programming and high performance computing skills into core computing and engineering courses poses unique technical challenges. A typical PC laboratory environment may not be suitable, and allowing learners access to a production resource may introduce an unacceptable risk, if it is even possible. For decades, Beowulf clusters have offered an attractive solution where a system can be built using commodity components, often by the students themselves. This can instil in the learner both an understanding of parallel code and how it is orchestrated on the hardware - a strategy used successfully in delivering courses at the University of Huddersfield. However, there are two problems; Firstly, the depth of knowledge required to be learnt in order to successfully build, program and profile a cluster. Secondly, the use of seemingly antiquated tools in order to achieve this. In this paper, we outline some of the experience of integrating parallel and distributed computing into our courses. In addition, we present a novel, cross-platform virtual cluster toolkit developed to address the technical requirements of delivering such courses.

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