NERSCPowering Scientific Discovery for 50 Years

2008/2009 User Survey Results

HPC Consulting


Satisfaction Average Score
Very Satisfied 6.50 - 7.00
Mostly Satisfied - High 6.00 - 6.49
Mostly Satisfied - Low 5.50 - 5.99
Significance of Change
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

Item Num who rated this item as: Total Responses Average Score Std. Dev. Change from 2007
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
CONSULT: Timely initial response to consulting questions     2 4 10 89 221 326 6.60 0.67 0.05
CONSULT: Overall   1 2 7 13 98 212 333 6.53 0.77 -0.04
CONSULT: Quality of technical advice     2 9 14 104 195 324 6.48 0.76 -0.00
CONSULT: Followup to initial consulting questions   3 4 8 17 87 194 313 6.44 0.93 -0.04
CONSULT: Amount of time to resolve your issue   1 5 10 19 104 183 322 6.39 0.89 0.03
CONSULT: On-line help desk     2 11 10 50 99 172 6.35 0.93 0.06
CONSULT: Response to special requests (e.g. disk quota increases, etc.)     4 20 12 48 134 218 6.32 1.05 0.03
CONSULT: Software bug resolution 1 1 2 30 26 55 97 212 5.98 1.20 -0.05


Comments about Consulting:   32 respondents

  • Good service: 14 responses
  • Mixed evaluation / requests and suggestions: 14 responses
  • Unhappy: 6 responses


Good service:   17 responses

My experience with NERSC consulting has been absolutely fantastic--the best of any of the many supercomputing centers I have used.

NERSC consulting/support is the flag ship of DOE supercomputing. Excellent model.

The consulting support at NERSC is very good in comparison with other DOE supercomputer centers. I like this very much!

Excellent consulting service. The best among all HPC centers that i know. Thank you and thanks in particular to Zhengji, Katie and Woo-Sun!

I am extremely satisfied with the consulting support - namely Woo-Sun Yang and Zhengji Zhao were very helpful in resolving all my problems with my model runs.

Very satisfied. Keep up the good work.

keep up the longstanding excellent work

Thank you very much for your great job. ... Thanks again your great job to maintain supercomputers so that I can most concentrate on my research project.

keep up the good work!

Excellent job. Keep up the high-quality work.

A great organization devoted to provide SERVICE to the users. Just keep up the excellent work that you are doing.

No suggestions for improvement. I've always thought the NERSC consulting is great!

As the STAR/RNC liaison, I deal with the NERSC consulting services on almost a daily basis. I couldn't be happier with the professionalism, helpfulness, and dedication of the NERSC consulting staff. ...

No. The consulting support team does a great job!


Mixed evaluation / requests and suggestions:   14 responses

The consultants are always friendly and do their best, but it is a tough job.

Hire more consultants...

Rewrite the "New Users Guide." Make sure it is up to date and highly accessible. Having recently started using NERSC systems, I found that I was expected to know a lot of things that I didn't necessarily realize I needed to know. Include better sample programs and scripts.

Consultant support quality varies with the person involved. Some people are excellent and most try to respond quickly. In general response is good, but I have also had important questions sit for months until a general software change, maybe unrelated to the problem, finally solved the problem. Some of the MPP problems/software bugs are larger than just NERSC, so some of the dissatisfaction can't be helped. The lack of a usable interactive debugger on Franklin is a big problem, both for communicating with the consultants and for developing MPP code.

twice this past year i have been stymied, something not working. i explain it clearly. the consultant has been unable to figure it out, suggest things to try to isolate or identify the problem. "must be your system is preventing things," they say. these were both connection problems, from LLNL, behind a firewall. there was no further help the consultants could offer. then, both times, help arrived from someone here who had dealt with the same problem. in both cases there were simple solutions. it would have been a major negative if those two problems had not been solved. my opinion is you need a consultant who is much more savvy in this area. apart from these cases, i am very satisfied with the quality of technical advice.

I think it would be nice if someone could be on duty on holidays and weekends. Normally, I found the queues are not that busy. So I can run quite a few jobs. The problem is that if nobody is on duty, if problems occur, I can not solve it. The computer time is waste.

... The online help desk could be more useful if the answers to all (or most) questions - not just mine - were available to me.

maybe this suggestion is not fair which might be a Cray problem, but I do need your help. I always have problem when I try to use Openmp and PETSc together.

more computing time

Please reduce the times of maintenance and increase the time of users.

... In general, I most use Franklin. Although sometimes I experienced some unexpected problems but I really like it. I felt very satisfied. One thing that I concern is the limited 15Gb space. Somehow, it is too small for me to run a nanocluster calculation. Hopefully, in future there are some chances to improve/enlarge this limited space.

please install gromacs

Make sure the hard disk in the pdsf are safe.

Again, I would suggest to use rsync instead of HSI for backup.


Unhappy:   6 responses

Sometimes tickets seem to get lost after the initial response. It would be good issues are better followed to resolution.

My impression is that at least some of the consultants are not super-strong in Fortran issues. Also, it appears you no longer have any experts in HDF5 IO library support (but I amy be wrong there).

Consultants were not able to help setting up AMBER jobs. Someone must have done it on NERSC. How did they do it?

I often get answers that put me off. For example, if I'm having trouble with X, they'll ask me if I've tried Y.
It often takes a week to answer my question. If you could have more consultants with climate expertise that would help.
The franklin error messages are misleading at best. Upgrading them would work wonders towards helping me fix my own problems. For example, I get "out of memory" errors for everything from a memory leak to missing restart files to inability to write output data files.

Consulting support asked me to recompile my software. I asked for help, and my request was ignored. I later received an email to ask if I was able to get my software recompiled, as CS wanted to get some performance data. I replied, yes, I recompiled my software, but it was due to me spending much of my time trying to find where certain libraries were located that CS would have known quite easily. This software (AMBER) was the most recent version (10 - available April 2009), yet NERSC still does not offer that version.

It has been several months since I used NERSC computers. The main reason I stopped was frequent crashes of my simulations, which to me seemed unrelated to my software -- i.e. hardware-related. In past experience with NERSC support, resolution of issues was so slow that I either abandoned the project temporarily, or found another computing center to run at.