SC07 Holds First Cluster Challenge

By Brent Gorda

November 23, 2007

The SC07 Cluster Challenge was held in conjunction with the SC07 conference in Reno, Nevada. The event sought to create an exhibition and competition in which teams of undergraduate students would compete in a demonstration of talent, technology and accessibility of entry-level supercomputing. The activity was intended to highlight the gains in hardware performance, ease of use of clusters and the power and availability of simulation software.

To whet peoples’ appetites, the Cluster Challenge Committee challenged that a half rack of a modern cluster would be competitive with the number one system on the TOP500 from only 10 years ago! In fact, the top Linpack score realized in the Challenge was 420 gigaflops, which would have made the TOP500 list only three years ago. This announcement was made during the TOP500 BoF session at SC07 and was met with loud cheers and applause from the attendees.

The rules of the Challenge were simple: a maximum of 26 amps max power (at 110 volts) were to be used, and no team member may have completed an undergraduate degree. Six teams and their vendor partners chose to compete:

  • Stony Brook University + Dell.
  • National Tsing Hua University + ASUSTek.
  • University of Colorado + Aspen Systems.
  • University of Alberta + SGI.
  • Indiana University + Apple.
  • Purdue University + HP.

Each team partnered with a vendor who loaned the equipment for the event and, in some cases, provided travel funds to the team. In most cases, the teams had access to the equipment for a few months, but some only had it for a few weeks prior to shipping. On Saturday, Nov. 10, teams arrived to find (or not, in some cases) their equipment waiting in the contest area. Saturday and Sunday were then spent rebuilding systems, optimizing power, and finalizing the benchmarks and applications for the start of the competition.

Teams were asked to run the HPC Challenge benchmarks at the beginning of the event at 8:00 PM on Monday. Once the results were submitted, teams were given access to data sets for the three previously announced applications: GAMESS, POP and POVRay. Teams then spent the remainder of their time — up to 4:00 PM on Wednesday — completing as many of the data sets as they could. At the end of the competition, judges interviewed the teams and awarded points based on this interaction. The judges were lead by Jack Dongarra (University of Tennessee and ORNL) and included Dona Crawford (LLNL), Satoshi Matsuoka (Tokyo Tech) and Tim Lyons (Morgan Stanley).

For about 44 straight hours, teams worked on the benchmarks and applications in shifts. About halfway through the event, around Tuesday at noon, there was a general power interruption to the section of Reno where the convention center is located. All teams experienced a hard crash and had to scramble to recover. The event couldn’t have asked for a more brutal real-life experience. Some of the teams lost upwards of ten hours of compute time and others lost hardware and time associated with debugging the failure. In the end, however, all teams were back online within a couple of hours and some chose to run with automatic checkpoint restart, as available in some of the applications, to protect against further interruption.

Ultimately, the winner of the contest was the team from The University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. While that team did not have the fastest system on paper, a combination of good preparation and good fortune during the brief power outage gave them the advantage.

The quality of teams, systems and computational work exceeded all expectations. While one could attribute this to individuals standing up to the challenge, the committee’s opinion is that a larger force is also at work. This is that the entry barrier to supercomputing has dropped significantly. The results show that if you have a need for simulation computing, it is reasonable to believe that you can use local college or university talent and commonly available software and applications to get started on that work.

Another significant outcome of the event is its impact on the curricula of the participating institutions. Half of these schools decided to modify their undergraduate offerings in the future to include cluster and parallel computing classes.

Computational simulation, driven by continued advances in hardware, availability and maturity of cluster OS software, and enabled by parallel application software, has reached a point where it is clearly accessible and available. These tools are now available to industry and we predict the technology will soon be considered critical to enhance competitiveness of businesses of all sizes and in all markets.

In closing, there are numerous people and organizations to credit for the event itself. Starting with the ACM and IEEE (sponsors of SC07), the individual team vendor partners (Dell, ASUSTek, Aspen Systems, SGI, Apple and HP) and the event partners (Chevron, WesternGeco and Morgan). The results are exciting and we are already planning for the next event at SC08, Nov. 15-21, in Austin, Texas.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

Intel Reorgs HPC Group, Creates Two ‘Super Compute’ Groups

October 15, 2021

Following on changes made in June that moved Intel’s HPC unit out of the Data Platform Group and into the newly created Accelerated Computing Systems and Graphics (AXG) business unit, led by Raja Koduri, Intel is making further updates to the HPC group and announcing... Read more…

Royalty-free stock illustration ID: 1938746143

MosaicML, Led by Naveen Rao, Comes Out of Stealth Aiming to Ease Model Training

October 15, 2021

With more and more enterprises turning to AI for a myriad of tasks, companies quickly find out that training AI models is expensive, difficult and time-consuming. Finding a new approach to deal with those cascading challenges is the aim of a new startup, MosaicML, that just came out of stealth... Read more…

NSF Awards $11M to SDSC, MIT and Univ. of Oregon to Secure the Internet

October 14, 2021

From a security standpoint, the internet is a problem. The infrastructure developed decades ago has cracked, leaked and been patched up innumerable times, leaving vulnerabilities that are difficult to address due to cost Read more…

SC21 Announces Science and Beyond Plenary: the Intersection of Ethics and HPC

October 13, 2021

The Intersection of Ethics and HPC will be the guiding topic of SC21's Science & Beyond plenary, inspired by the event tagline of the same name. The evening event will be moderated by Daniel Reed with panelists Crist Read more…

Quantum Workforce – NSTC Report Highlights Need for International Talent

October 13, 2021

Attracting and training the needed quantum workforce to fuel the ongoing quantum information sciences (QIS) revolution is a hot topic these days. Last week, the U.S. National Science and Technology Council issued a report – The Role of International Talent in Quantum Information Science... Read more…

AWS Solution Channel

Cost optimizing Ansys LS-Dyna on AWS

Organizations migrate their high performance computing (HPC) workloads from on-premises infrastructure to Amazon Web Services (AWS) for advantages such as high availability, elastic capacity, latest processors, storage, and networking technologies; Read more…

Eni Returns to HPE for ‘HPC4’ Refresh via GreenLake

October 13, 2021

Italian energy company Eni is upgrading its HPC4 system with new gear from HPE that will be installed in Eni’s Green Data Center in Ferrera Erbognone (a province in Pavia, Italy), and delivered “as-a-service” via H Read more…

Intel Reorgs HPC Group, Creates Two ‘Super Compute’ Groups

October 15, 2021

Following on changes made in June that moved Intel’s HPC unit out of the Data Platform Group and into the newly created Accelerated Computing Systems and Graphics (AXG) business unit, led by Raja Koduri, Intel is making further updates to the HPC group and announcing... Read more…

Royalty-free stock illustration ID: 1938746143

MosaicML, Led by Naveen Rao, Comes Out of Stealth Aiming to Ease Model Training

October 15, 2021

With more and more enterprises turning to AI for a myriad of tasks, companies quickly find out that training AI models is expensive, difficult and time-consuming. Finding a new approach to deal with those cascading challenges is the aim of a new startup, MosaicML, that just came out of stealth... Read more…

Quantum Workforce – NSTC Report Highlights Need for International Talent

October 13, 2021

Attracting and training the needed quantum workforce to fuel the ongoing quantum information sciences (QIS) revolution is a hot topic these days. Last week, the U.S. National Science and Technology Council issued a report – The Role of International Talent in Quantum Information Science... Read more…

Eni Returns to HPE for ‘HPC4’ Refresh via GreenLake

October 13, 2021

Italian energy company Eni is upgrading its HPC4 system with new gear from HPE that will be installed in Eni’s Green Data Center in Ferrera Erbognone (a provi Read more…

The Blueprint for the National Strategic Computing Reserve

October 12, 2021

Over the last year, the HPC community has been buzzing with the possibility of a National Strategic Computing Reserve (NSCR). An in-utero brainchild of the COVID-19 High-Performance Computing Consortium, an NSCR would serve as a Merchant Marine for urgent computing... Read more…

UCLA Researchers Report Largest Chiplet Design and Early Prototyping

October 12, 2021

What’s the best path forward for large-scale chip/system integration? Good question. Cerebras has set a high bar with its wafer scale engine 2 (WSE-2); it has 2.6 trillion transistors, including 850,000 cores, and was fabricated using TSMC’s 7nm process on a roughly 8” x 8” silicon footprint. Read more…

What’s Next for EuroHPC: an Interview with EuroHPC Exec. Dir. Anders Dam Jensen

October 7, 2021

One year after taking the post as executive director of the EuroHPC JU, Anders Dam Jensen reviews the project's accomplishments and details what's ahead as EuroHPC's operating period has now been extended out to the year 2027. Read more…

University of Bath Unveils Janus, an Azure-Based Cloud HPC Environment

October 6, 2021

The University of Bath is upgrading its HPC infrastructure, which it says “supports a growing and wide range of research activities across the University.” Read more…

Ahead of ‘Dojo,’ Tesla Reveals Its Massive Precursor Supercomputer

June 22, 2021

In spring 2019, Tesla made cryptic reference to a project called Dojo, a “super-powerful training computer” for video data processing. Then, in summer 2020, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted: “Tesla is developing a [neural network] training computer... Read more…

Enter Dojo: Tesla Reveals Design for Modular Supercomputer & D1 Chip

August 20, 2021

Two months ago, Tesla revealed a massive GPU cluster that it said was “roughly the number five supercomputer in the world,” and which was just a precursor to Tesla’s real supercomputing moonshot: the long-rumored, little-detailed Dojo system. Read more…

Esperanto, Silicon in Hand, Champions the Efficiency of Its 1,092-Core RISC-V Chip

August 27, 2021

Esperanto Technologies made waves last December when it announced ET-SoC-1, a new RISC-V-based chip aimed at machine learning that packed nearly 1,100 cores onto a package small enough to fit six times over on a single PCIe card. Now, Esperanto is back, silicon in-hand and taking aim... Read more…

CentOS Replacement Rocky Linux Is Now in GA and Under Independent Control

June 21, 2021

The Rocky Enterprise Software Foundation (RESF) is announcing the general availability of Rocky Linux, release 8.4, designed as a drop-in replacement for the soon-to-be discontinued CentOS. The GA release is launching six-and-a-half months... Read more…

US Closes in on Exascale: Frontier Installation Is Underway

September 29, 2021

At the Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Committee (ASCAC) meeting, held by Zoom this week (Sept. 29-30), it was revealed that the Frontier supercomputer is currently being installed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tenn. The staff at the Oak Ridge Leadership... Read more…

Intel Completes LLVM Adoption; Will End Updates to Classic C/C++ Compilers in Future

August 10, 2021

Intel reported in a blog this week that its adoption of the open source LLVM architecture for Intel’s C/C++ compiler is complete. The transition is part of In Read more…

Hot Chips: Here Come the DPUs and IPUs from Arm, Nvidia and Intel

August 25, 2021

The emergence of data processing units (DPU) and infrastructure processing units (IPU) as potentially important pieces in cloud and datacenter architectures was Read more…

AMD-Xilinx Deal Gains UK, EU Approvals — China’s Decision Still Pending

July 1, 2021

AMD’s planned acquisition of FPGA maker Xilinx is now in the hands of Chinese regulators after needed antitrust approvals for the $35 billion deal were receiv Read more…

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

HPE Wins $2B GreenLake HPC-as-a-Service Deal with NSA

September 1, 2021

In the heated, oft-contentious, government IT space, HPE has won a massive $2 billion contract to provide HPC and AI services to the United States’ National Security Agency (NSA). Following on the heels of the now-canceled $10 billion JEDI contract (reissued as JWCC) and a $10 billion... Read more…

Julia Update: Adoption Keeps Climbing; Is It a Python Challenger?

January 13, 2021

The rapid adoption of Julia, the open source, high level programing language with roots at MIT, shows no sign of slowing according to data from Julialang.org. I Read more…

10nm, 7nm, 5nm…. Should the Chip Nanometer Metric Be Replaced?

June 1, 2020

The biggest cool factor in server chips is the nanometer. AMD beating Intel to a CPU built on a 7nm process node* – with 5nm and 3nm on the way – has been i Read more…

Quantum Roundup: IBM, Rigetti, Phasecraft, Oxford QC, China, and More

July 13, 2021

IBM yesterday announced a proof for a quantum ML algorithm. A week ago, it unveiled a new topology for its quantum processors. Last Friday, the Technical Univer Read more…

The Latest MLPerf Inference Results: Nvidia GPUs Hold Sway but Here Come CPUs and Intel

September 22, 2021

The latest round of MLPerf inference benchmark (v 1.1) results was released today and Nvidia again dominated, sweeping the top spots in the closed (apples-to-ap Read more…

Frontier to Meet 20MW Exascale Power Target Set by DARPA in 2008

July 14, 2021

After more than a decade of planning, the United States’ first exascale computer, Frontier, is set to arrive at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) later this year. Crossing this “1,000x” horizon required overcoming four major challenges: power demand, reliability, extreme parallelism and data movement. Read more…

Intel Unveils New Node Names; Sapphire Rapids Is Now an ‘Intel 7’ CPU

July 27, 2021

What's a preeminent chip company to do when its process node technology lags the competition by (roughly) one generation, but outmoded naming conventions make i Read more…

Intel Launches 10nm ‘Ice Lake’ Datacenter CPU with Up to 40 Cores

April 6, 2021

The wait is over. Today Intel officially launched its 10nm datacenter CPU, the third-generation Intel Xeon Scalable processor, codenamed Ice Lake. With up to 40 Read more…

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
HPCwire