LLNL’s Diachin takes the helm of DOE’s Exascale Computing Project

Lori Diachin of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory will assume the role of director of the Department of Energy’s Exascale Computing Project on June 1, leading the successful multi-institution high-performance computing effort through its final stages.

Diachin, who is currently the principal deputy associate director for LLNL’s information technology directorate, has served as the deputy director of ECP since 2018. He succeeds Doug Kothe, who will join Sandia National Laboratories June 5 to become the chief of research and director of laboratories associates of Sandias Advanced Science and Technology Division. Diachin will report to Oak Ridge National Laboratory Acting Director Jeff Smith in his new capacity as ECP.

I feel incredibly humbled and humbled to have been selected for this role; it is the largest computer project in DOE history and will have a huge impact on computational science for the next decade and beyond, Diachin said. We are eager and excited to showcase the success and impact that the software applications and technologies we have developed for exascale systems will have on issues of national concern.

Launched in 2016 and jointly supported by two DOE organizations, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the Office of Science ECP combines research, development and implementation efforts across DOE, with the mission to accelerate the delivery of an information ecosystem exascale to address the most critical challenges in scientific discovery, energy assurance, economic competitiveness, and national security. Throughout the project’s history, ECP has engaged more than 1,000 researchers in developing and documenting next-generation computational tools and applications, which will pay dividends for DOE and the nation for many years, said Diachin.

As director of ECP, Diachin will lead the project to its conclusion, as the first generation of US exascale supercomputers tackle many modeling and simulation workloads using ORNL Frontier and Argonne National Laboratory, or ANL, Aurora supercomputers for applications Office of Science and as LLNL El Capitan begins serving functions for NNSA applications in 2024.

Diachin said his top priorities will be ensuring ECP meets its key performance metrics and continuing to work with national labs and suppliers to ensure ECP-developed tools can demonstrate high performance on US exascale systems before technical project work. ends in December 2023.

We will see many new technologies in the HPC landscape over several decades, and ECP has helped lay the groundwork for that future, said Diachin. The applications and software developed at ECP will be critical to DOE’s mission areas in science, homeland security, economic security and more for decades to come.

The lessons learned from the ECP will be passed on to other computational science teams in DOE, agencies such as the Department of Defense, NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and teams in US industries and university HPC centers, Diachin added.

ORNL’s Ashley Barker, who headed training and productivity for ECP before stepping down to take a more active role in procurement and implementation efforts at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, will serve as Diachin’s deputy.

Barker is deputy director for ORNL’s upcoming large-scale procurement and head of the operations section at ORNL’s National Center for Computational Sciences. He also led the OLCF User Assistance and Outreach team, a group responsible for facilitating user access to OLCF resources, including Frontier. Barker was previously a project director for the National Climate Research Center, a partnership between NOAA and DOE, from 2014 to 2016 and has been with ECP since its childhood.

Ashley Barker
Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Ashley Barker, who headed training and productivity for ECP before stepping down to take a more active role in procurement and implementation efforts at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, will serve as Diachins’ deputy.

I joined ECP near the start of the project and have seen firsthand how far we’ve come since the project was formed, Barker said. I look forward to taking a larger role in helping showcase the results and impact our software and application technology portfolio will have on the wider community and to work with the team to help ensure successful completion of the project by providing our remaining key findings.

Prior to joining LLNL in 2003, Diachin worked at ANL and Sandia as a researcher specializing in numerical methods and high-performance computing. During his time at LLNL, Diachin held a variety of management positions, including director of the Center for Applied Scientific Computing and department head for information technology. In his current role as principal deputy, he advises LLNL associate director of computer science Bruce Hendrickson, as well as division leaders and institute directors, on strategies for developing and sustaining critical computing and computational capabilities.

Diachin also served as a principal investigator in DOE’s Advanced Scientific Computing Research program since the mid-1990s, including serving as project leader for DOE’s Scientific Discovery Through Advanced Computing program from 2001 to 2018. Joining ECP, he held program leadership roles in the DOE Nuclear Energy Advanced Modeling and Simulation program from 2009-2011 and as DOE HPC4EnergyInnovation program director from 2016-2018.

As deputy director of ECP, Diachin helped bring Kothe inestablish the strategic direction for the project and ensure that the project has achieved its goals and objectives. Diachin thanked Kothe for his tireless efforts over the past 7 years and praised him as an outstanding leader for ECP.

[Kothes] Leadership in ECP’s application development portfolio, and subsequently leadership of the project as a whole, have positioned this one-of-a-kind project to be a huge success, said Diachin. The DOE community owes him and the original ECP director who steered this project from concept to reality, Paul Messina, a great debt of gratitude for their leadership and service.

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