Online MPI

ARCHER, the UK's national supercomputing service offers training in software development and high-performance computing to scientists and researchers across the UK.

ARCHER courses are offered free of charge to all academics.


David Henty

David teaches on a wide range of EPCC's technical training courses, including MPI and OpenMP, and is overall course organiser for EPCC's MSc in High Performance Computing.



This online course will run over four sessions on consecutive Wednesday afternoons, starting on Wed 31st January with the last session on Wed 21st Feb.

We will be using Blackboard Collaborate for the course, which is very simple to use and entirely browser-based.

Collaborate usually works without problems with modern browsers, but Chrome is recommended. Links will appear below each session, further down this page.

Attendees will register for the course in the usual way at

Computing requirements

All attendees will need their own desktop or laptop, and you may find it most convenient if you can compile and run MPI programs on your own machine or log on to a local system with which you are already familiar.

If you are logging on to an external system then you will need to have an ssh client installed which comes as default for Linux and Mac systems. For Windows you can install putty - see this YouTube video which also explains how you can enable graphics as well as command-line access.

We will provide accounts on one of the ARCHER systems for all attendees who register in advance at

Installing MPI locally

Note that all registered users will be given access to ARCHER systems. Although having MPI installed on your laptop will be convenient, do not worry if these instructions do not work for you.


You should install the GNU compilers and a couple of MPI packages, e.g. for Ubuntu:

  user@ubuntu$ sudo apt-get install gcc
  user@ubuntu$ sudo apt-get install openmpi-bin
  user@ubuntu$ sudo apt-get install libopenmpi-dev


Mac users need to install compilers form the Xcode developer package. It is easiest to install MPI using the Homebrew package manager. Here are Instructions on how to install Xcode and Homebrew

Now install OpenMPI:

  user@mac$ brew install open-mpi


Microsoft do supply a version of MPI for Windows.

However, we recommend that Windows users access the ARCHER systems using putty (see above).


Week 1 (Wed 31st Jan)

Here is the Exercise Sheet for this course. Note that it may contain examples that are not covered in this online version of the MPI course - see below the timetable for complete copies of all the material.

Although it is always best to try and write your own answers to the exercises, here is a tar file containing simple solutions.

Week 1 Video

Week 2 (Wed 7th Feb)

Week 2 Video

Week 3 (Wed 14th Feb)

Week 3 Video

Week 4 (Wed 21st Feb)

  • 13:30 Ring solution
  • 14:15 Collective communication
  • 15:00 Break
  • 15:30 Practical: Collective communication
  • 16:15 General Q&A
  • 17:00 Close

Week 4 Video


All the slides etc. are linked in from the timetable above.

The material comes from the standard ARCHER MPI course, although this online version is slightly shorter. Slides etc. from the most recent full run are available at Videos from a run in 2014 are available at


Although it will be possible for attendees to follow the course sitting in their office, we want to explore ways to help them by providing a network of support from ARCHER Champions.

We are therefore looking for volunteers to give additional support during the practical sessions. This could take any of the following forms:

  • arranging a room at your home institution where people can attend as a group and therefore get peer support for the exercises;
  • hands-on support to attendees in the room, e.g. with logging on and running jobs, or providing MPI expertise if possible;
  • being available for the days between the sessions to answer questions, either face-to-face or online.

A room with a large TV and a laptop with wifi access should be sufficient to host the course.

There will be MPI experts from EPCC available online throughout the course, but we were hoping to enable as many issues as possible to be dealt with locally.

Getting involved

If you are interested in supporting the course then please email and I will add you to our mailing list.


If you have any questions please contact the ARCHER Helpdesk.