NERSCPowering Scientific Discovery Since 1974

2003 User Survey Results


  • Legend
  • Satisfaction with Training
  • How Useful are these resources for training in HPC?
  • What training methods would you like NERSC to offer?   161 responses
  • Comments about training:   23 responses



SatisfactionAverage Score
Mostly Satisfied 5.5 - 6.4
Somewhat Satisfied 4.5 - 5.4
UsefulnessAverage Score
Very Useful 2.50 - 3
Somewhat Useful 1.50 - 2.49
Not Useful 1.00 - 1.49
Significance of Change
significant increase
significant decrease
not significant


Satisfaction with Training

QuestionNo. of ResponsesAverageStd. Dev.Change from 2002Change from 2001
New User's Guide 137 6.26 0.86 0.05 0.32
NERSC Online Tutorials 121 6.07 0.99 0.10 0.10
NERSC Training Web Pages 98 5.83 1.06 -0.06 NA
NERSC Training Classes 24 4.88 1.15 -0.25 -0.67
Access Grid classes 27 4.67 1.41 NA NA


How Useful are these resources for training in HPC?

QuestionNo. of ResponsesAverageStd. Dev.Change from 2002Change from 2001
Online Tutorials 54 2.44 0.63 -0.08 -0.11
Classes 33 1.76 0.75 -0.24 -0.31
Access Grid classes 30 1.63 0.72 0.00 0.00


What training methods would you like NERSC to offer?   161 responses

138 (85%) General online web documentation
83 (83%) Online web tutorials on specific topics
26 (16%) Live web broadcasts with teleconference audio
21 (13%) Live in-person classes at LBNL
18 (11%) Live in-person classes at your site
10 (16%) Live Access Grid Classes


Comments about training:   23 responses

This year most of the comments concerned the training format rather than suggestions for topics. Seven users said that web documents are sufficient; six pointed out that training via the Access Grid is not a good solution; and five recommended webcasts.

NERSC response: As of October 2003 NERSC has captured all training sessions using RealPlayer. These are available for replay on the web. On the day of the training classes users can participate in any of the following ways:

  • Watch live media streaming using RealPlayer from their desktop.
  • Join an audio conference to interact with NERSC staff and ask questions.
  • Attend via the Access Grid.
  • Watch the slides via PowerPoint of HTML slides

The training topics users requested most frequently are performance and how to get started.

15   Recommended a training format
8   Suggested topics
2   General comments
  Recommended a training format:   15 responses

You need to explore other models for remote training than the access grid. Even at large national labs, there are a limited number of access grid rooms available. These are often either booked up or require trained people (who aren't always available) to operate them. Also, it requires users to be out of their offices. You should look for software videoconference options (RealPlayer, etc.) that any of us can run on our office computers. If that is not possible, then use teleconferencing with viewgraphs posted on the web.

I have not been able to access the access grid and don't know when OSU is going to provide these facilities if ever, so format is useless to me.

Working from a site that has no Access Grid node, the training lectures are effectively unavailable to me. I have tried several times to attend but been discouraged since I could not get it to work. A simple streamed webcast of the lectures would go a long way to making them more available.

Access Grid is a large mystery to me. Some sort of series at LBL would be interesting. The currently available online information is so useful perhaps I wouldn't use classes at all.

many people (in the universities) don't have DOE grid access... online web docs, web tutorials, and web broadcasts are more useful for us

I don't have access to DOE access Grid. NERSC should have better video conference allowing phone-in questions

Make more video lectures. ...

Web is usually the easiest and most convenient way to get training info to the most people.

Since i have limited time to attend training classes, I tend to prefer Web-based tutorials.

I like to learn as I need to. Therefore, the web is the best resource for me.

My opinion in this matter is not representative because I am a self-learner. For me the NERSC online web documentation and tutorials (supplemented by other readings and "hands-on" exercises) was enough to get me started. Then I learned more as I progressed in my computational research projects. And when I was "in trouble" I contacted the NERSC consultants. I evaluate the NERSC documentation and the NERSC consulting services as EXCELLENT.

For the most part, I am very experienced with IBM SP POWER3 systems, so I am not making a great deal of use of training materials, other than web pages that describe local NERSC-specific configurations. When the time comes for a new system and I need training, nothing beats a classroom session, and I will probably try to attend one. Having material in ready reach on the web is important as well. The more modern distance-learning techniques with which you are experimenting work less well for me, but they are probably experiments that are still worth pursuing, especially as this technology continues to develop.

... Specific advice in person may be very helpful.

I haven't yet attended any access grid classes but would like to in the future.

It would be useful to get all users to visit NERSC, e.g. annually to make better use of the NERSC facilities.

  Suggested topics:   8 responses

How to improve performance and scalability. Visualization.

More tutorials on the code performance improvement based on the information obtained by profilers. ...

Would like to see more presentations on optimization techniques and parallel performance issues.

methods to use open MP and MPI together to get best multi node performance.

General guides on rethinking old codes to use multiple processors efficiently.

getting people, started; what's available, how (and why!) to use

Unix command Debug

When a major hardware or software change occurs. For new users.

  General comments:   2 responses

I've only gone to one training class at NERSC (ACTS) and found it to be excellent. In general, I view this as a resource that I don't fully take advantage of due to time constraints.

I believe in training, even if I don't use it much myself.