WHO CAN BUILD THE FASTEST COMPUTER FOR $10,000?

September 15, 2000

SCIENCE & ENGINEERING NEWS

San Diego, CALIF. — Building your own computer has long been a way to make a name for yourself in the high-technology business and at this year’s SC2000 conference on high-performance computing and networking, teams from around the country will compete to see who can build the fastest computer for $10,000.

This year, SC2000 will convene in Dallas for seven days of technical programs, technological demonstrations and exhibits, educational outreach and mind-boggling visualizations of computational data. The conference will be held Nov. 4-10 in the Dallas Convention Center.

A hallmark of the SC conference, now in its 12th year, is a friendly competition among exhibitors and speakers for the fastest, largest and best when it comes to the performance of computers and networks. “Speed has always been important, otherwise we wouldn’t need the computer,” said Seymour Cray, who built some of the world’s fastest supercomputers during his career.

It’s in this spirit that the conference’s HPC (high performance computing) games are run. This year’s games introduce a new challenge, pitting performance against price: The $10K Computer Challenge. Participants are being asked to build or assemble their own high-performance computing machine (or machines) worth up to $10,000, and bring these machines to the SC2000 exhibition floor to compete, running a series of predetermined benchmarks of computer performance. The benchmarks will exercise an assortment of metrics covering CPU performance, disk performance and network performance, and various combinations of these metrics as seen in typical high-performance applications.

“If you’re up to the challenge – the $10K Challenge – now’s the time to get up to speed and enter the competition,” said HPC Games co-chair James Arthur Kohl of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The Web-based HPC Games application, along with rules for qualification and scoring, can be found at http://www.sc2000.org/games .

A gzipped tar file of benchmark source code is now ready for download at: http://www.epm.ornl.gov/~kohl/HPC.GAMES/hpcg1.0.tar.gz

“And have no fear, if you are ultimately unable to get one or more benchmarks to run without massive failure on your bleeding edge system, it will not be held against you,” said HPC Games Co-Chair Eleanor Anne Schroeder of the Naval Oceanographic Office. “Our objective is to see what can be accomplished within limitations and still have fun. So, we’ve decided to let participants omit any troublesome benchmarks as long as they notify us before the conference.”

The latest benchmark submission results can be obtained in real-time on line at: http://www.epm.ornl.gov/~kohl/cgi-bin/HPC.GAMES/score.cgi . SC2000 is sponsored by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Computer Society and the Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Computer Architecture.

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