March 27, 2014

Tianhe-2, The Arena for ASC14 Student Supercomputer Challenge

A few days ago, 2014 ASC Student Supercomputer Challenge (hereafter ASC14) announced that the 16 ASC14 finalists will compete an application scalability on the Tianhe-2 supercomputer, which is moved to the Sun Yat-Sen University very recently.

While, it is the first time that Tianhe 2, or any other giant supercomputer, will be used in a supercomputer competition. This great breakthrough demonstrates that the new administration of China will not simply focus on construction of hardware system of supercomputer, but start to pay attention to applications development and talent cultivation.

Tianhe-2 supercomputer

In recent years, China has made huge investment on construction of supercomputer system, which ranked No.1 of the Top500 list twice in three years. In November 2011, Tianhe-1A self-developed by China topped with peak performance of 2.507 Pflops. In June 2013, Tianhe-2 championed the Top500 list again. Statistically, the performances of supercomputer in USA have only improved 500 times, while those in China have improved 5000 times in the past 10 years. Meanwhile, number of supercomputers in China increases tremendously, China has reached world’s No.2 and only behind USA on  list of Top500 with 63 sets.

Even though there are incontestable improvement on performance and breath-taking growth of supercomputer quantity, China is now facing new challenges in larger parallel computing applications and high level talent cultivation. According to an expert ,who didn’t want to be named, from China National Supercomputer Center in Tianjin, ‘although Tianhe-1A is strong enough in performance, 5 application platforms of Tianhe-1A only provide computing service for 300+ key customers within 2 years from its establishment, and each platform only provides service for approximately 60 customers. This obviously indicates its computing ability has not fully exhibited.

Cheerfully, the Chinese government has embarked on solving the problem of large scale parallel computing software research and development. The government has plans to promote application software at eight directions, including aviation, nuclear energy, biology, material, and global climate change as the major special projects of the 12th five-year plan with capital investment scope of 10M RMB at each direction, and another  20M RMB will be used for developing software platform.

Along the government attention, ASC14 specially establishes e Prize in order to challenge the application limit of Tianhe-2. The e Prize will be awarded in ASC14 final for the team, which obtains the highest scalability and performance optimization of supercomputer applications.   “e” is the most important natural constant in science, and also represents the next generation supercomputer ( exascale). ASC hopes the e Prize become ‘Gordon Bell Prize’ of youth talents and encourage them to bravely break the performance limits.

ASC14 is organized by Asia Supercomputer Community, Sun Yat-Sen University, Inspur Group and co-organized by HPC AC,ISC,and State Key Laboratory of High-end Server & Storage Technology. This year, its registered teams reach historical amount, 84 with 200+ universities’ attention. The teams are from five continents around the world, including the developing areas such as Brazil, Russia, South Africa, India, and China. And 16 finalists will confront head-to-head in the final, which will be held in the Sun Yat-Sen University (Guangzhou) on April 21-25.




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