South Africa Team Claims Third ISC Student Cluster Championship

By Tiffany Trader

June 23, 2016

At an awards ceremony near the close of ISC 2016 in Frankfurt, Germany, this week, attendees cheered as Team South Africa took to the stage to collect their third HPCAC-ISC Student Cluster Competition championship prize from HPC luminary Thomas Sterling.

“I have to say that this is extraordinary,” said Sterling, who was helping officiate along with Gilad Shainer (of Mellanox). “Last year, I said those South African teams are pretty good. They came in second last year and first the two times before that. This is a remarkable performance.”

The win marked quite the accomplishment for the team, which had support from their home institution, the Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC); their sponsors Dell and Mellanox; and the community at large. The student team lineup includes Andries Bingani, Ashley Naudé, Avraham Bank, Craig Bester, Sabeehah Ismail, and Leanne Johnson.

The road to becoming three-time ISC 2016 cluster champions kicked into gear with a first-place finish in the annual SA-SCC event, under guidance of team supervisors David Macleod and Matthew Cawood, both of CHPC.

A feature piece on the South African team by HPCwire contributor STEM-Trek‘s Elizabeth Leake highlights their coaching style:

The CHPC won the ISC challenge in 2013 and 2014, but came in second to a Chinese team [Tsinghua University] in 2015. The pressure is on to reclaim their international title in 2016. It’s clear CHPC’s coaching methodology doesn’t emphasize winning, however.

“That’s not to say that we don’t think winning is important, it’s just that we have higher priorities. Our goal is to expose as many students as possible to the HPC field at a time in their education when they can take related courses. This means that year after year we self-impose disadvantages by fielding the youngest and least experienced team in the competition. The fact that we are the only team that does this, yet we’re consistently strong, is the greatest win we could have hoped for,” said David Macleod.

ISC16 SCC ResultsThe team also reflects CHPC’s dedication to gender and racial equity with a diverse mixed-gender team. Coming from the other side of the world, Team NERSC was also girl-powered, representing the first time an all-woman team has competed in the history of the Student Cluster Team contests.

Looking at the various system specs for 12 cluster designs, what stands out is Team South Africa’s choice of accelerator. The team opted for NVIDIA Tesla K40s over K80 GPUs and was the only group to do so. They considered K80s but were attracted by the lower power profile of the K40s. Thanks to the team’s sponsors, Dell and Mellanox, their travel expenses were covered and they received some impressive hardware: 10 dual-socket Xeon-E5 2695 v4s nodes (total: 360 cores) connected by EDR InfiniBand. They used eight of these nodes for the application runs.

Other notable innovative architectures this year included:

  • A 768 ARMv8 core cluster (from Cavium via their European part E4 Computing) accelerated by 8 NVIDIA JTX1s with 4 ARMv8 cores and 256 Maxwell cores per board (Team Boston);
  • An 80-core IBM Power8 cluster (Team Estonia from the University of Tartu); and
  • An 864-core Cavium ThunderX-based system (Team Spain from UPC Barcelona Tech).

Team NERSC had the most Xeon cores with 8-nodes of two-socket 22-core E5-2699 CPUs totaling 352 cores, compliments of Intel and Cray, who delivered the hardware to the team in May.

Lengau-Specs-1000xThe Fastest Computer on the Continent

As if winning the third gold SCC title weren’t enough reason to celebrate, South Africa has also stood up a new supercomputer, named Lengau (“Cheetah” in the African language of seTswana). Benchmarked at 782-petaflops (LINPACK), the machine takes the number 121 spot, putting it in the top quadrant of the TOP500 list that was announced on Monday. Lengau is comprised of 1,008 Xeon-based Dell PowerEdge server nodes filling 19 racks (with storage). It has a Dell Storage capacity of five petabytes, and uses Dell Networking Ethernet switches and Mellanox EDR InfiniBand with a maximum interconnect speed of 56 GB/s.

A Competition with Surprises

A community favorite along with its counterparts in Asia and in the US, the HPCAC-ISC Student Cluster Competition is jointly organized by the HPC Advisory Council (HPCAC) and ISC. This year, 12 teams from around the world came to build a small cluster of their own design and test their HPC mettle by optimizing and running a series of benchmarks and applications. The catch is to do so without going over the 3,000W power limit.

The first portion of the competition is benchmarking the system with the High Performance Conjugant Gradient (HPCG) and High Performance Linpack (HPL). Next comes the bulk of the contest: four applications that comprise 80 percent of the overall score; only three are known ahead of time. This year’s lineup included the data-intensive Graph500 benchmark; Splotch (a ray tracing algorithm used for visualizations); and WRF, a popular weather forecasting model. The surprise application, CloverLeaf, was a first for the competition; the hydrodynamics mini-app solves the compressible Euler equations on a Cartesian grid.

Teams are scored based on their performance on the HPCC benchmark run (10 percent), a suite of test applications (80 percent), as well as their ability to articulate their strategy and results in front of a panel of expert judges (10 percent). At the awards ceremony, the top achievers are presented with prizes in five categories: first, second and third place, highest LINPACK performance and fan favorite.

And the Winners Are

1st Place: Team South Africa

2nd Place: Tsinghua University

3rd Place: Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU)

Highest LINPACK: Huazhong University of Science & Technology (HUST)

Fan Favorite: UPC Barcelona Tech

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!

Democratization of HPC Part 3: Ninth Graders Tap HPC in the Cloud to Design Flying Boats

October 18, 2018

This is the third in a series of articles demonstrating the growing acceptance of high-performance computing (HPC) in new user communities and application areas. In this article we present UberCloud use case #208 on how Read more…

By Wolfgang Gentzsch and Håkon Bull Hove

Penguin Computing Launches Consultancy for Piecing AI Strategies Together

October 18, 2018

AI stands before the HPC industry as a beacon of great expectations, yet market research repeatedly shows that AI adoption is commonly stuck in the talking phase, on the near side of a difficult chasm to cross. In respon Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

When Water Quality—Not Quantity—Hinders HPC Cooling

October 18, 2018

Attention has been paid to the sheer quantity of water consumed by supercomputers’ cooling towers – and rightly so, as they can require thousands of gallons per minute to cool. But in the background, another factor can emerge, bottlenecking efficiency and raising costs: water quality. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

One Small Step Toward Mars: One Giant Leap for Supercomputing

Since the days of the Space Race between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union, we have continually sought ways to perform experiments in space. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Paper Offers ‘Proof’ of Quantum Advantage on Some Problems

October 18, 2018

Is quantum computing worth all the effort being poured into it or should we just wait for classical computing to catch up? An IBM blog today posed those questions and, you won’t be surprised, offers a firm “it’s wo Read more…

By John Russell

Penguin Computing Launches Consultancy for Piecing AI Strategies Together

October 18, 2018

AI stands before the HPC industry as a beacon of great expectations, yet market research repeatedly shows that AI adoption is commonly stuck in the talking phas Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

When Water Quality—Not Quantity—Hinders HPC Cooling

October 18, 2018

Attention has been paid to the sheer quantity of water consumed by supercomputers’ cooling towers – and rightly so, as they can require thousands of gallons per minute to cool. But in the background, another factor can emerge, bottlenecking efficiency and raising costs: water quality. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Paper Offers ‘Proof’ of Quantum Advantage on Some Problems

October 18, 2018

Is quantum computing worth all the effort being poured into it or should we just wait for classical computing to catch up? An IBM blog today posed those questio Read more…

By John Russell

Dell EMC to Supply U Michigan’s Great Lakes Cluster

October 16, 2018

The University of Michigan (U-M) today announced Dell EMC is the lead vendor for U-M’s $4.8 million Great Lakes HPC cluster scheduled for deployment in first Read more…

By John Russell

Houston to Field Massive, ‘Geophysically Configured’ Cloud Supercomputer

October 11, 2018

Based on some news stories out today, one might get the impression that the next system to crack number one on the Top500 would be an industrial oil and gas mon Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia Platform Pushes GPUs into Machine Learning, High Performance Data Analytics

October 10, 2018

GPU leader Nvidia, generally associated with deep learning, autonomous vehicles and other higher-end enterprise and scientific workloads (and gaming, of course) Read more…

By Doug Black

Federal Investment in Exascale – What It Really Means

October 10, 2018

Earlier this month, the EuroHPC JU (Joint Undertaking) reached critical mass, and it seems all EU and affiliated member states, bar the UK (unsurprisingly), have or will sign on. The EuroHPC JU was born from a recognition that individual EU member states, and the EU as a whole, were significantly underinvesting in HPC compared to the US, China and Japan, who all have their own exascale investment and delivery strategies (NSCI, 13th 5 Year Plan, Post-K, etc). Read more…

By Dairsie Latimer

NERSC-9 Clues Found in NERSC 2017 Annual Report

October 8, 2018

If you’re eager to find out who’ll supply NERSC’s next-gen supercomputer, codenamed NERSC-9, here’s a project update to tide you over until the winning bid and system details are revealed. The upcoming system is referenced several times in the recently published 2017 NERSC annual report. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

TACC Wins Next NSF-funded Major Supercomputer

July 30, 2018

The Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) has won the next NSF-funded big supercomputer beating out rivals including the National Center for Supercomputing Ap Read more…

By John Russell

IBM at Hot Chips: What’s Next for Power

August 23, 2018

With processor, memory and networking technologies all racing to fill in for an ailing Moore’s law, the era of the heterogeneous datacenter is well underway, Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Requiem for a Phi: Knights Landing Discontinued

July 25, 2018

On Monday, Intel made public its end of life strategy for the Knights Landing "KNL" Phi product set. The announcement makes official what has already been wide Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

CERN Project Sees Orders-of-Magnitude Speedup with AI Approach

August 14, 2018

An award-winning effort at CERN has demonstrated potential to significantly change how the physics based modeling and simulation communities view machine learni Read more…

By Rob Farber

House Passes $1.275B National Quantum Initiative

September 17, 2018

Last Thursday the U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Quantum Initiative Act (NQIA) intended to accelerate quantum computing research and developm Read more…

By John Russell

Summit Supercomputer is Already Making its Mark on Science

September 20, 2018

Summit, now the fastest supercomputer in the world, is quickly making its mark in science – five of the six finalists just announced for the prestigious 2018 Read more…

By John Russell

New Deep Learning Algorithm Solves Rubik’s Cube

July 25, 2018

Solving (and attempting to solve) Rubik’s Cube has delighted millions of puzzle lovers since 1974 when the cube was invented by Hungarian sculptor and archite Read more…

By John Russell

D-Wave Breaks New Ground in Quantum Simulation

July 16, 2018

Last Friday D-Wave scientists and colleagues published work in Science which they say represents the first fulfillment of Richard Feynman’s 1982 notion that Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

HPC on Wall Street 2018 Booth Video Tours Playlist

Arista

Dell EMC

IBM

Intel

RStor

VMWare

TACC’s ‘Frontera’ Supercomputer Expands Horizon for Extreme-Scale Science

August 29, 2018

The National Science Foundation and the Texas Advanced Computing Center announced today that a new system, called Frontera, will overtake Stampede 2 as the fast Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE No. 1, IBM Surges, in ‘Bucking Bronco’ High Performance Server Market

September 27, 2018

Riding healthy U.S. and global economies, strong demand for AI-capable hardware and other tailwind trends, the high performance computing server market jumped 28 percent in the second quarter 2018 to $3.7 billion, up from $2.9 billion for the same period last year, according to industry analyst firm Hyperion Research. Read more…

By Doug Black

Intel Announces Cooper Lake, Advances AI Strategy

August 9, 2018

Intel's chief datacenter exec Navin Shenoy kicked off the company's Data-Centric Innovation Summit Wednesday, the day-long program devoted to Intel's datacenter Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

GPUs Power Five of World’s Top Seven Supercomputers

June 25, 2018

The top 10 echelon of the newly minted Top500 list boasts three powerful new systems with one common engine: the Nvidia Volta V100 general-purpose graphics proc Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Germany Celebrates Launch of Two Fastest Supercomputers

September 26, 2018

The new high-performance computer SuperMUC-NG at the Leibniz Supercomputing Center (LRZ) in Garching is the fastest computer in Germany and one of the fastest i Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

MLPerf – Will New Machine Learning Benchmark Help Propel AI Forward?

May 2, 2018

Let the AI benchmarking wars begin. Today, a diverse group from academia and industry – Google, Baidu, Intel, AMD, Harvard, and Stanford among them – releas Read more…

By John Russell

Aerodynamic Simulation Reveals Best Position in a Peloton of Cyclists

July 5, 2018

Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) and KU Leuven research group conducts the largest numerical simulation ever done in the sport industry and cycling discipline. The goal was to understand the aerodynamic interactions in the peloton, i.e., the main pack of cyclists in a race. Read more…

Houston to Field Massive, ‘Geophysically Configured’ Cloud Supercomputer

October 11, 2018

Based on some news stories out today, one might get the impression that the next system to crack number one on the Top500 would be an industrial oil and gas mon Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This