NERSCPowering Scientific Discovery for 50 Years

2006 User Survey Results

HPC Consulting


SatisfactionAverage Score
Very Satisfied 6.50 - 7.00
Mostly Satisfied 5.50 - 6.49
Significance of Change
significant decrease
not significant

Satisfaction with HPC Consulting

7=Very satisfied, 6=Mostly satisfied, 5=Somewhat satisfied, 4=Neutral, 3=Somewhat dissatisfied, 2=Mostly dissatisfied, 1=Very dissatisfied

ItemNum who rated this item as:Total ResponsesAverage ScoreStd. Dev.Change from 2005
Timely initial response to consulting questions   1 3 2 6 50 136 198 6.57 0.81 -0.08
Followup to initial consulting questions 1   2 3 9 55 117 187 6.49 0.86 -0.08
CONSULT: overall 1 1 2 3 9 59 124 199 6.47 0.90 -0.21
Quality of technical advice 1   2 3 8 66 113 193 6.46 0.84 -0.16
Amount of time to resolve your issue 2   6 6 11 68 103 196 6.27 1.08 -0.14
Software bug resolution 1 1 1 11 9 37 60 120 6.14 1.16 0.04


Comments about Consulting:   36 responses


Good service:   23 responses

They have always been very quick to respond to problems by email or phone. Excellent work!

Consulting staff if very responsive and proactive in answering questions and resolving issues. Nice work!

Thanks for your prompt, good service!

NERSC consultants are your most important resource.

I think the NERSC consultants are most likely the best that DOE has.

On the rare occasion where technical support was necessary, the technicians I spoke with were courteous and knowledgeable.

Consultants have been extremely helpful.

Excellent job

Excellent consulting service. Many thanks (especially to Dave Turner)!

They provide an excellent service. From the technical questions to simple requests for increased disk allocation.

I've been very satisfied with them. They work well with users (well, me at least) to track down issues and find solutions. I've never felt like they were talking down to me, but they also explain issues well when I'm not acquainted with particulars.

Best consulting staff of all Supercomputing centers...

NERSC provides an exemplary service overall. The uniformity of the programming environments on Seaborg, Bassi and Jacquard is excellent!

Very good and responsive folks.

Great job!

All the times I have used NERSC consulting this year I have been very happy --- my kudo's to the staff

I like the fast responses - I am impressed

I am very impressed with the speed at which responses are answered, as well as the efficiency of technical support in solving problems.

The issue of new temporary passwords is prompt.

Want to thank all the consultants for a job well done.

I've always been impressed with the consulting services at NERSC.

The few times I have needed assistance, it has been QUICK AND COMPETENT. I feel very fortunate to have such good people working behind the scenes, even if I don't often need them.

NERSC consulting staff is very user-friendly and most consultants go out of their way to solve user problems. This group has been performing as a most reliable and very helpful team and I have found that but for their help and advice I would not have accomplished in my research as much as I did. I believe NERSC consultants are sine quo non for the NERSC supercomputing facility, as the users have to talk to the consultants as they know best how to talk to the computing machines. My sincerest thanks to you all in this group for a magnificent performance.


Mixed evaluation:   7 responses

Our old pdsf consultant, Iwona was terrific. However, when she was not available there was really no one to adequately fill in for her. I have not had very much contact with the new pdsf consultant, so I have no comments, but I've heard he's good. I wish we had more staff that were qualified to fill in when the default pdsf consultant is out.

Quality of technical response and advice varies considerably among different consultants. A more individually based rating system for each consultant might be more helpful.

In general NERSC consulting is the best in the world. Recently, requests have been turned down rather brusquely and some questions/problems have never been followed up on.

The efficiency and expertise of the NERSC consulting staff is unmatched by any other high performance computing facility I've used, and is one of NERSC's best resources. Our one area of disappointment has been in the lag involved in addressing our difficulties in scaling our code to Bassi; I hope this will happen soon.

One ongoing problem with our use of the PDSF cluster is the lack of support on nights and weekends. Often our processing pipeline, which requires < 24-hour turn-around on a large amount of data each night, is effectively brought to a halt because of e.g. a bad node draining jobs from the queue. The existing PDSF staff is quite knowledgeable and helpful, but overworked; we have been trying to work around known problems in generic ways, but there's no substitute for having someone on call if an unforeseen problem arises.

Debugging software is not easy. On basic problems, it works like a charm; however, on difficult issues, some additional thought is warranted. For example, some how TABs were inserted in my software. It is difficult to identify the source of this as in: computer operations, my incorrectly using the editor, use of debugging tools, or causes yet to be determined.
It is funny but just when you get things going, it is like a moving train that stops very suddenly...

I am sorry not to be more positive. And I don't keep a log of which of the platforms we use at various sites drive the most crazy. Remember compilers are our problem. Otherwise we have no problems. Generally we try to properly compile code before moving to NERSC. So our need for NERSC help is limited.


Unhappy:   6 responses

Often when I send in a problem, I get a short reply that doesn't address my issue. Often it takes two or three exchanges of email to get my issue resolved, and since each exchange takes roughly a day, I'm often waiting 2-3 days for a fix. I run your machines very predictably. When I have a problem, as often as not, it's the machine that's misbehaving. Consultants nearly always assume that it's my error.

Support for systems especially in emergency situations outside of normal business hours is still somewhat lacking.

PDSF is under supported. Eric and company are very good at responding to problems in a timely manner during regular business hours, but I have found the NERSC help desk to be nearly useless for off-hours problems, even when they are quite major (a licensing server being down, a bad node during jobs, ...) Overall I am very satisfied with the PDSF-specific consultants when they are available, and very dissatisfied with the help desk's ability to help (or even page the POC) with PDSF related off-hours problems.

I asked to have software supported and it took two months just to hear that it would not be supported. I am still waiting over two days for a request that should have been responded to in 4 hours. Basically, I cannot use NERSC because the support is so useless. This is in very stark contrast to all other experiences with DOE computing facilities. The support staff at PNNL is 1000 times more effective than anything I've seen at NERSC.

example, discovered substantial performance bug in mpi implementation on jacquard but did not receive a follow-up of the exact problem and the fix from either nersc or the vendor

I have requested info about wien2k software and it has been over 10 days without a response.........I have emailed back and hopefully someone will reply. I initially called NERSC help line and understand there may not be a staff person at the moment with expertise on the software wien2k available in Seaborg.