Cray Centre of Excellence for ARCHER

The Cray Centre of Excellence for ARCHER is a project to engage with ARCHER's users to allow them to maximise their use of Cray technologies.

The Centre comprises two dedicated staff with many years combined experience in HPC applications, software and hardware. These staff are augmented by other Cray staff who can be engaged on particular projects as appropriate. Within Cray the Centre of Excellence staff are part of the wider Cray EMEA Research Lab (CERL). The CERL research interests include distributed visualisation, high-performance data analytics, I/O and memory hierarchy, data-centric analysis, and experimental system design. Please get in contact via the CERL page if you wish to discuss a project that perhaps falls outside the focus of the ARCHER CoE.

Access to significant experience is available via the CoE ranging from expertise in particular application areas to access to insights on new technology directions.

With tutorials at SC13 and SC14 and a finalist for best paper at CUG14 the team is heavily involved in international conferences and workshops.

The CoE team has been instrumental in recent developments to important HPC applications and technology areas such as the use of Python in HPC, power monitoring on Cray systems, UM (Climate Modelling), CASTEP (materials modelling) and OpenFOAM (CFD).

The Centre is available to support users in porting applications or optimising performance and scaling on the Cray ARCHER system. The Centre is always interested in hearing from current or potential users of ARCHER who feel they could benefit from Centre of Excellence assistance.

To contact us, please email the ARCHER helpdesk and mark FAO Cray Centre of Excellence.


ARCHER is used for a wide variety of scientific applications and the Cray Centre of Excellence (CoE) engages with users from many different fields. As well as supporting users day-to-day on the Cray XC30 the Centre of Excellence is available to assist a variety of user projects.

In each of these projects we aim to bring best practice in software development together with a style and structure which fits comfortably into the existing software. The projects can consist of developments and optimizations to user code or detailed interaction on use of Cray tools (Cray compiler, performance tools, MPI, etc) geared towards the particular project. In the past some projects have involved interactions or collaboration with Cray R&D.

Some examples of past Cray projects can be found in the following case studies that cover activities by Cray CoE and Research Staff based in Edinburgh:

For 2016 we are hoping to cover more in-depth projects particularly with the intention to benefit the ARCHER community in general. In some cases interest overlaps with more research-oriented projects in the wider CERL group. Particular focus areas are:

  • I/O Optimization and Observation
    Current activity includes:
    • Tools to optimize I/O performance for a large number of small files
    • The use of ADIOS as a way to introduce parallel I/O APIs and as a platform for more advanced experimentation in the I/O stack
    • Tools for better observability of LUSTRE performance
  • Auto-tuning
    We are investigating use of an auto-tuning framework developed by Cray within the EU CRESTA project as a way to optimize the build and configuration of applications.
  • Investigation of future technologies
    Areas of interest here are new many-core architectures, storage and memory devices.


  • The CoE attends various events in order to engage with the wider ARCHER user community. Examples in recent years include meertings of the UK Turbulence Consortium, the 24th Discrete Simulation of Fluid Dynamics (DSFD) conference and the Computing Insight UK meeting in Coventry in December 2015.
  • The CoE is represented on the eCSE panel meetings as technical reviewer and advisor.
  • The CoE attends the quarterly ARCHER scientific advisory committee (SAC) meetings.


  • The CoE provided training material for the ARCHER Virtual Tutorial on preparing people for submitting an eCSE proposal
  • The CoE presented the following ARCHER Virtual Tutorials/Webinars:
    • Not So Old Fortran
    • ARCHER Programming Environment Update
    The tutorials/webinars are available here
  • The CoE participated in the PRACE IO optimization workshop at Daresbury Laboratory
  • The ARCHER CoE gave a Reveal Tool demonstration at the Multicore Challenge 2014 Conference
  • The ARCHER CoE organized a workshop "Is the programming environment ready for hybrid supercomputers?" as part of the PARCO 2015 conference held in Edinburgh in September 2015.
  • CoE staff supported two ARCHER Hands-On Porting and Optimization Workshops the latest held in Imperial College London in May 2016.