While today's supercomputers offer unprecedented levels of hardware performance, using them in a productive manner remains a major challenge. To write correct and efficient code, application developers typically have to be both experts in their specific field of science to find novel approaches to the problem they want to solve and computer scientists to understand and exploit the intricacies of the system for which their code is being designed. Moreover, access to parallelism is mostly offered via low-level interfaces that are hard to learn and whose performance behavior is hard to predict. Whereas in the business world much of the complexity of application development is hidden behind advanced programming frameworks, stagnating progress in programming techniques for high-performance computing is limiting developer productivity and, thus, often delaying scientific results.
Therefore, our mission is to improve the quality and accelerate the development process of complex simulation programs in science and engineering that are being designed for the most advanced parallel computer systems. For this purpose, we are developing integrated state-of-the-art programming tools for high-performance computing that assist domain scientists in diagnosing programming errors and optimizing the performance of their applications. In these efforts, we place special emphasis on scalability and ease of use. Besides the purely technical development of such tools, we also aim at making more users aware of the benefits they can achieve by using them. Hence, we consider training and support to also be an essential component of our mission.
The virtual institute combines the expertise of twelve partner institutions, each with a strong record of high-performance computing research. The partners have long-lasting experience in the development and application of HPC programming tools and host well-known tool projects that are contributing leading-edge technology to this partnership. The collaboration among the partners has been initiated with funding by the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers. Helmholtz centers, and universities establishling virtual institutes to concentrate research capacities and thereby create centers of excellence of international standing in key areas of research.