NERSCPowering Scientific Discovery Since 1974

2001 User Survey Results

Web and Communications



SatisfactionAverage Score
Mostly Satisfied 5.5 - 6.4
Significance of Change
not significant


Satisfaction with the Web:


TopicNo. of
 Std. Dev.Change
from 2000
Accuracy 142 6.15 0.94 -0.07
Timeliness of info 132 6.08 0.97 0.08
New Users Guide 108 5.94 1.10 -0.02
NERSC-specific info 127 5.93 1.05 0.02
T3E Pages 97 5.90 0.97 -0.10
Ease of finding info on web 166 5.88 0.96 0.10
File Storage Pages 78 5.79 1.10 0.01
SP Pages 96 5.78 1.11 0.03
General programming info 131 5.72 1.05 0.09
PVP Pages 69 5.64 1.08 0.08
Search facilities 130 5.55 1.31 -0.06


Comments and suggestions concerning the HPCF web site:   29 responses


11   Good website
7   Provide additional or clearer information
7   Problems navigating / better organization
3   Improve searching




How useful are these for keeping you informed?


Question No. of
 Std. Dev.Change
from 2000
Email 145 2.43 0.64 -0.01
MOTD 138 2.18 0.80 -0.09
Announcement web archive 126 2.02 0.81 -0.03
Phone calls 112 1.79 0.91 -0.02


Question No. of Yes
No. of No
Percent Who
Said Yes
Do you feel you are adequately informed? 160 10 94
Are you aware of major changes at least 1 month in advance? 119 28 81
Are you aware of software changes at least 7 days in advance? 110 26 81
Are you aware of planned outages 24 hours in advance? 135 14 91

Comments regarding how NERSC keeps you informed of changes 13 responses



Comments concerning the HPCF web site   29 responses




Good website:

Just what it should be -- informative, easy, and not butt-ugly.

Your website is great! Many times, I get all my answers from there

I like it. It's very useful and helpful to me.

The information on the web pages is very thorough and informative.

The web sites are GREAT! They are the standard benchmark for comparing other supercomputer website. And, in my opinion, the NERSC web pages are the best. Just keep the load light (no Java and crazy graphics which as just silly and useless). The information is up to date and very well organized. Go NERSC!  

Very good in general. Unfortunately, PDSF specific information sometimes isn't easy to find. Often, it's hidden in archived emails.

Hey, within a day or two I was up and running. Without much hassle I might add. [...]

Great web site! The information is always current!

I use this little, but my experience has always been satisfactory.

It works pretty well.

I will let my group members who specifically use T3E or SP answer these questions.  All I can say is that they don't complain much about NERSC in comparison with NSF operation.  


Provide additional or clearer information:

I would like to see more in-depth documents about NERSC's experience with the computers, especially Seaborg. How about a document with tests results (performance, scalability, etc.)?

More documentation on software needed and more tutorials needed on general topics.

The introduction of MPI is extremely well written and easy to understand, but that for OpenMP is not so much readable in my opinion (it does not seem more than the original manual of OpenMP). For example, I finally needed to read full original manual to write a production code with OpenMP, though I didn't have to do that in case of MPI. This part (i.e., webpage for OpenMP) is what I want the improvement. In particular, please add more explanation about the concept of 'thread', what is the difference between MPI and OpenMP, and more detailed example to mix MPI and OpenMP (i.e., combine fine and coarse-grain parallelism).  Thank you for your consideration.

Maybe it's my fault, but I seemed to have a lot of trouble getting the batch queues to work, despite reading the webpages very carefully

I am new to the supercomputing game, and am having difficulties getting going. I have not yet been able to port a fairly simple fortran program over and run it in parallel. Most of my difficulties are related to OpenMP (and then MPI), So I appreciate the large amount of documentation. This is exactly the right idea. I still have had some problems finding what I was looking for (special options needed for ssh, the fact that my ssh on the PC (version 2) doesn't seem to work with seaborg, and OpenMP and MPI tutorials not being in the same place, so I didn't know the latter existed, etc.)  Am getting off the ground, however.

More documentation on parallelization

I hardly ever use them, they don't get to the point quickly enough for my taste.  


Problems navigating / better organization:

The informations regarding the queues on the IBM SP should be more apparent (maybe with an explicit "queues" link). They are somewhat hidden in the current web site.

For some reason my brain has refused to learn how to get the uptime status and scheduled downtime pages easily.

Better overall organization. [...]

sometimes had trouble finding nim quickly, and queue descriptions quickly (cray t3e pvp)

Documentation as it is is useful only if you know what specifically you are looking for.

There is such a large volume of information there that it's hard to weed through it and find what I needed. As a new user, a separate section, tutorial, perhaps just having basic information on how to get a feel for the resources available for different types of tasks, would be helpful.

  [...] and OpenMP and MPI tutorials not being in the same place [...]  


Improve searching:

In general, there is a lot of good information. However, I occasionally run into fairly common things that are very hard to find. For example, in trying to find out the meaning IBM compiler and Loadleveler error numbers, I've had to ask the consultants, and getting to that page took quite a few clicks and I would never have found it myself. One would think that many users might need to look up these error numbers and it would be easy information to get to. Doing open-ended searches on the NERSC web site are not usually too successful, but this a problem with many web-sites. Part of the problem is that the links from the search don't really take you directly into the place on the linked page that you need to go to; also the text provided on the links from the search is often not very useful. I don't know what the solution is other that look for a better search engine.

Improved search capacity.

[...] I answered dissatisfied with the search because it returns too much information to pour over, this probably isn't bad, but it has caused me to look for the information elsewhere rather than go through the entire list.  


Don't use:

I have never accessed the HPCF web site

I have never used the HPCF web site.

I have not used it recently enough to have a ready comment.  



How come PDSF did not make it to this form?  



Comments regarding how NERSC keeps you informed of changes and issues   19 responses




Comments on using email:

  I don't really care about any of this, but if Killeen was to go down for more than a week or two, then I would be unhappy until I found an alternate cpu. If something major is going to happen I would prefer to get an e-mail instead of having to read some message flying by my screen.

Changes should be sent as e-mail to the machine to which they are relevant. This means that mail should be enabled on all login platforms.

I think mailing list might be better to inform users about any changes. Also, it may be useful as a place to discuss technical (programming )problems in a public manner.

The one common comment - get email that system is underutilized but, upon checking, that does not seem the case.

I guess I need to be on the mail list.... MOTD and web site on useful after I have noticed a failure.. Not good coverage of PDSF outages ... they have separate mail list!  


Comments on the MOTD:

Updating the MOTD on a shorter time scale and telling us a little more about what is happening would be helpful.  

Customizing the info presented would be helpful

Thank God the MOTD was finally changed to be machine based (one section per machine). Please keep the new format!

Great job! The MOTD at login is really helpful.  


Comments on software changes:

A change in the MPI libraries on the T3E broke my code. I had to debug this myself -- consulting services was unable to help me. Now my code is broken again (works fine on Linux cluster), possibly due to another change in the T3E configuration -- I don't know.

I had some trouble when the NCAR library changed... it came as a surprise

  I would like to be informed directly when bug reports I write are resolved. I typically file 4-5 bug reports per year. (some of them are user error)  



It is fine

I am satisfied with this  



The users are generally well informed about the changes but not about the reasons why. For example, why did Seaborg get all the extra nodes all of a sudden? I never got any information about this. Users should be kept informed about the performance tests that NERSC performs on the computers...

I use PDSF, questions ar not relevant. Information flow to users from PDSF team is uniformly excellent.

Can't recall about the last two.

I'm a too new user to provide suggestions on this.

How do I use these services?