Here at DiRAC we strive to keep our community up to date with the latest technologies. Since the start of DiRAC, we have been proactively engaging with manufacturers and suppliers to secure cutting edge systems for the use by DiRAC members.
Access to any such system is arranged primarily through a hackathon. These hackathons are an opportunity for the manufacturer to present their technology, give some training and to support our researchers modifying their codes. These hackathons are not designed to be training sessions, where vendors roll out their training material with pre-packaged sample code for the trainee to run. Instead, they are supposed to be a platform to help our researchers assess the impact of this technology on their particular research code.
DiRAC is a group of facilities that supports the particle physics, astrophysics, cosmology, and nuclear physics research communities. These communities have a collection of codes that are used within their research.
The format of these hackathons is generally a 3 day event where the first day is spent introducing the technology and getting the researchers up to speed with what is required to use the new technology, and the rest of the time is spent supporting the researches as they try to integrate the technology into their research code.
We view a hackathon to be not just about evaluation hardware or new software packages, but as an opportunity for different research communities and industry to get together and exchange ideas. That is why the social side of the hackathon is also very important to us.
All the researchers are well versed with coding, and will be familiar with how to build their code. In the situation that some researchers will require support in this area, DiRAC would always have some local RSEs available to help.
There is no expectation that any vendor would have detailed knowledge of the research codes. All we ask is that the vendor supports any event by supplying a small technical support team of 2/3 members. The team would only support any integration issues and address any misconceptions about their product.
There is also an expectation that any vendor would sponsor the event covering any costs incurred in arranging such an event.
We have to date held several hackathons using different hardware, ether on site, remote but within DiRAC, or remote access at a vendors installation. All worked well. We would encourage everyone to get involved, as it is only with greater knowledge we grow stronger.