Q&A with Nicolás Erdödy, Multicore World Conference Director

Cendio has participated in the Multicore World conference since 2019, positioning our remote desktop server product ThinLinc amongst industry heavyweights such as Microsoft, Google, Intel, Nvidia, Meta, and Samsung. The world of multicore computing has come a long way since the first edition of the conference in 2012, and the journey has certainly been an interesting one. From intercontinental radio telescope arrays, to exascale high-performance clusters, to edge-computing, IoT, and machine learning, Multicore World has seen a multitude of speakers present on an array of fascinating topics throughout the years. One theme of this year’s edition was the moral and social implications of AI, bringing a very human perspective to a field which has traditionally been dominated by technology.

ThinLinc finds itself at home in many of these applications, providing a secure and reliable means of accessing data and compute resources remotely. Being involved in events like Multicore World has helped us lift our profile within these industries, and created awareness around the benefits of providing a graphical user interface to users of HPC and other centralised systems. February 2025 sees us back in Christchurch, New Zealand, at Multicore World again, for the 12th edition of the conference.

Nicolás Erdödy is the director of the Multicore World conference, and founder of Open Parallel. Originally from Uruguay, he now resides in Oamaru in New Zealand’s South Island, which he’ll gladly tell you is the steampunk capital of the world:

…and home to a pretty decent whisky called The Oamaruvian. Here we ask Nicolás several questions around the conference, the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) project, and his company Open Parallel.

Nicolás will be answering these questions from 2024-04-28T12:00:00Z, due to public holidays in New Zealand. If you have any other questions for him in the mean time, please ask them in the comments below.

  • Tell us a little bit about the history of the Multicore World conference, and its relation with the SKA project.

  • What sets Multicore World apart from other HPC-related conferences, such as ISC and SC?

  • What’s planned for MCW 2025?

  • What other projects is Open Parallel involved in?

  • Anything else you’d like to share with us?

HPC is “cool again” thanks to AI. But AI developers and AI users are far from proficient HPC users. Did anyone at the conference talk about how HPC centers can offer a great user experience for AI developers and AI users?

Greetings from Aotearoa New Zealand!
About the history of Multicore World -
I’ve been a high tech entrepreneur for decades and one of my companies in the mid-2000s was created specifically to partner directly with Sun Microsystems in Santa Clara, California, to develop and support the software platform for the Niagara servers (for the telco vertical for the APAC region). That was a sort of “beginning of the multicore era”. Apart from learning a lot about low level tech (remember OpenSPARC?) I learnt how communities and ecosystems can grow and evolve from an original platform (being HW, SW or combined). We had a good ride alongside Sun until it was bought by Oracle (which combined with the GFC made markets really tough).
In 2010 I founded Open Parallel Ltd as a strategy and technology consultancy with a strong profile in “rapid R&D” through novel projects. We started with good contracts with the likes of Intel (US) and Arm (UK) and from there I knew that I needed an “outreach strategy” aligned with the new company. We did a couple of mini conferences about “multicore and parallel computing” collocated within LCA (Linux Conference Australia) in 2010/2011 and by 2012 we were ready to start independently with Multicore World.
At the same time Open Parallel was officially selected by the New Zealand Government (through an international peer-review process) as the only company to formally contribute to the computing platform of the SKA -the Square Kilometre Array radio-telescope, the largest civil IT project in history. We had a small role in the global consortium but from the beginning were exposed to next-gen technologies (we were talking about exascale computing since 2011…).
So Multicore World became a convergence of industry, engineering and open source communities, science, academia, and government. It wasn’t envisaged as an HPC meeting but the SKA and its related computing technologies were always pushing the boundaries, and that brought us into the global HPC communities -we started to participate every year at Supercomputing from SC15 in the US and regularly from ISC17 in Germany. Multicore World became part of the international calendar (ISC in May, SC in November, MW in February).

We always explored the frontiers of tech -e.g. we discussed “edge” as the intersection of HPC and IoT in 2016, quantum technologies in 2017, etc. The transformers, interconnects and other models that power GenAI were discussed in MW years ago. And that gave MW a global reputation that explains how we can bring together so many talented leaders to New Zealand. Talent needs purpose, and Multicore World is known as a conference with premier content -no talk show, no trade show, no marketing, just core tech at serious level.
And that would answer your 2nd question: MW speakers have been keynotes at SC and ISC.

There are some core differences:
i) At SC and ISC you have 3-4 keynotes or plenary speakers at top level. In MW you have more than 20.
ii) At SC and ISC keynotes are “master classes” where the speaker presents a scripted lecture without any interaction and barely allows for 1-2 questions. At MW your keynote is dynamic, interrupted, and the Q&A goes on and on…
iii) At MW conversations are as important as presentations: MW is single track, everyone listens to everyone, and there are generous time breaks where global leaders discuss at peer-level with junior developers in a collegiate environment. As it should be.
iv) You don’t just “pass through” when you come to New Zealand -it’s a commitment and everyone stays for the 4.5 days of the conference. It’s a seriously good experience -and you learn A LOT.
v) Finally: delegate numbers in SC are 14,000+ and 3,000+ in ISC; MW is capped at 100 people so we can all actually meet and chat with each other.
Check the first MW2025 flyer at www.multicore.world with themes for 2025.

The New Zealand Government withdrew its participation at country level from the SKA project in 2019 -therefore Open Parallel is no longer involved. But we always considered the SKA as a learning experience for the future of computing platforms. Since 2016 Open Parallel has been developing concepts toward a new field that we call “Agriculture Empowered by Supercomputing”.
Therefore we have had talks in MW23 and MW24 about distributed heterogeneous computing platforms, network topologies, open source hardware (chiplets, RISC-V, FPGA, etc) and all sorts of applications about workflows, edge, storage, etc. Plus a lot of diverse topics such as data sovereignty, indigenous science, and the social implications of high tech e.g. degrowth, etc

Finally, I would like to thank Cendio ThinLinc for its ongoing sponsorship for Multicore World for many years. Both Open Parallel and Multicore World are strongly aligned within the open source ethos therefore it has been really easy to partner with the ThinLinc team worldwide. Visit www.multicore.world -all the talks from MW2024 are available online for free, just browse the programme and follow the link to their MW pages, with the slides, interviews and presentation.

See you at the 12th Multicore World in February 2025!

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There were about a dozen talks linking AI and HPC -but pretty talk in the programme touched the AI topic, how could they avoid it :slight_smile: ?

Please visit the MW24 programme page and go through the titles. When you click on the speaker’s name it will take you to their personal page where you can access the slides from the presentation in PDF and the video for free. We do not post the Q&A sessions.