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!

LLNL Leverages Supercomputing to Identify COVID-19 Antibody Candidates

March 30, 2020

As COVID-19 sweeps the globe to devastating effect, supercomputers around the world are spinning up to fight back by working on diagnosis, epidemiology, treatment and vaccine development. Now, Lawrence Livermore National Read more…

By Staff report

Weather at Exascale: Load Balancing for Heterogeneous Systems

March 30, 2020

The first months of 2020 were dominated by weather and climate supercomputing news, with major announcements coming from the UK, the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts and the U.S. National Oceanic and At Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Q&A Part Two: ORNL’s Pooser on Progress in Quantum Communication

March 30, 2020

Quantum computing seems to get more than its fair share of attention compared to quantum communication. That’s despite the fact that quantum networking may be nearer to becoming a practical reality. In this second inst Read more…

By John Russell

SiFive Accelerates Chip Design with Cloud Tools

March 25, 2020

Chip designers are drawing on new cloud resources along with conventional electronic design automation (EDA) tools to accelerate IC templates from tape-out to custom silicon. Among the challengers to chip design leade Read more…

By George Leopold

What’s New in Computing vs. COVID-19: White House Initiative, Frontera, RIKEN & More

March 25, 2020

Supercomputing, big data and artificial intelligence are crucial tools in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Around the world, researchers, corporations and governments are urgently devoting their computing reso Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

AWS Solution Channel

Amazon FSx for Lustre Update: Persistent Storage for Long-Term, High-Performance Workloads

Last year I wrote about Amazon FSx for Lustre and told you how our customers can use it to create pebibyte-scale, highly parallel POSIX-compliant file systems that serve thousands of simultaneous clients driving millions of IOPS (Input/Output Operations per Second) with sub-millisecond latency. Read more…

DoE Expands on Role of COVID-19 Supercomputing Consortium

March 25, 2020

After announcing the launch of the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium on Sunday, the Department of Energy yesterday provided more details on its scope and operation in a briefing led by Undersecretary of Ener Read more…

By John Russell

Weather at Exascale: Load Balancing for Heterogeneous Systems

March 30, 2020

The first months of 2020 were dominated by weather and climate supercomputing news, with major announcements coming from the UK, the European Centre for Medium- Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Q&A Part Two: ORNL’s Pooser on Progress in Quantum Communication

March 30, 2020

Quantum computing seems to get more than its fair share of attention compared to quantum communication. That’s despite the fact that quantum networking may be Read more…

By John Russell

DoE Expands on Role of COVID-19 Supercomputing Consortium

March 25, 2020

After announcing the launch of the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium on Sunday, the Department of Energy yesterday provided more details on its sco Read more…

By John Russell

[email protected] Rallies a Legion of Computers Against the Coronavirus

March 24, 2020

Last week, we highlighted [email protected], a massive, crowdsourced computer network that has turned its resources against the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe – but [email protected] isn’t the only game in town. The internet is buzzing with crowdsourced computing... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Conversation: ANL’s Rick Stevens on DoE’s AI for Science Project

March 23, 2020

With release of the Department of Energy’s AI for Science report in late February, the effort to build a national AI program, modeled loosely on the U.S. Exascale Initiative, enters a new phase. Project leaders have already had early discussions with Congress... Read more…

By John Russell

Servers Headed to Junkyard Find 2nd Life Fighting Cancer in Clusters

March 20, 2020

Ottawa-based charitable organization Cancer Computer is on a mission to stamp out cancer and other life-threatening diseases, including coronavirus, by putting Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Kubernetes and HPC Applications in Hybrid Cloud Environments – Part II

March 19, 2020

With the rise of cloud services, CIOs are recognizing that applications, middleware, and infrastructure running in various compute environments need a common management and operating model. Maintaining different application and middleware stacks on-premises and in cloud environments, by possibly using different specialized infrastructure and application... Read more…

By Daniel Gruber,Burak Yenier and Wolfgang Gentzsch, UberCloud

Intel’s Neuromorphic Chip Scales Up (and It Smells)

March 18, 2020

Neuromorphic chips attempt to directly mimic the behavior of the human brain. Intel, which introduced its Loihi neuromorphic chip in 2017, has just announced that Loihi has been scaled up into a system that simulates over 100 million neurons. Furthermore, it announced that the chip smells. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

[email protected] Turns Its Massive Crowdsourced Computer Network Against COVID-19

March 16, 2020

For gamers, fighting against a global crisis is usually pure fantasy – but now, it’s looking more like a reality. As supercomputers around the world spin up Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Julia Programming’s Dramatic Rise in HPC and Elsewhere

January 14, 2020

Back in 2012 a paper by four computer scientists including Alan Edelman of MIT introduced Julia, A Fast Dynamic Language for Technical Computing. At the time, t Read more…

By John Russell

Global Supercomputing Is Mobilizing Against COVID-19

March 12, 2020

Tech has been taking some heavy losses from the coronavirus pandemic. Global supply chains have been disrupted, virtually every major tech conference taking place over the next few months has been canceled... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

[email protected] Rallies a Legion of Computers Against the Coronavirus

March 24, 2020

Last week, we highlighted [email protected], a massive, crowdsourced computer network that has turned its resources against the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe – but [email protected] isn’t the only game in town. The internet is buzzing with crowdsourced computing... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Steve Scott Lays Out HPE-Cray Blended Product Roadmap

March 11, 2020

Last week, the day before the El Capitan processor disclosures were made at HPE's new headquarters in San Jose, Steve Scott (CTO for HPC & AI at HPE, and former Cray CTO) was on-hand at the Rice Oil & Gas HPC conference in Houston. He was there to discuss the HPE-Cray transition and blended roadmap, as well as his favorite topic, Cray's eighth-gen networking technology, Slingshot. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

DoE Expands on Role of COVID-19 Supercomputing Consortium

March 25, 2020

After announcing the launch of the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium on Sunday, the Department of Energy yesterday provided more details on its sco Read more…

By John Russell

Fujitsu A64FX Supercomputer to Be Deployed at Nagoya University This Summer

February 3, 2020

Japanese tech giant Fujitsu announced today that it will supply Nagoya University Information Technology Center with the first commercial supercomputer powered Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Tech Conferences Are Being Canceled Due to Coronavirus

March 3, 2020

Several conferences scheduled to take place in the coming weeks, including Nvidia’s GPU Technology Conference (GTC) and the Strata Data + AI conference, have Read more…

By Alex Woodie

Leading Solution Providers

SC 2019 Virtual Booth Video Tour

AMD
AMD
ASROCK RACK
ASROCK RACK
AWS
AWS
CEJN
CJEN
CRAY
CRAY
DDN
DDN
DELL EMC
DELL EMC
IBM
IBM
MELLANOX
MELLANOX
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
PANASAS
PANASAS
SIX NINES IT
SIX NINES IT
VERNE GLOBAL
VERNE GLOBAL
WEKAIO
WEKAIO

Cray to Provide NOAA with Two AMD-Powered Supercomputers

February 24, 2020

The United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) last week announced plans for a major refresh of its operational weather forecasting supercomputers, part of a 10-year, $505.2 million program, which will secure two HPE-Cray systems for NOAA’s National Weather Service to be fielded later this year and put into production in early 2022. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Exascale Watch: El Capitan Will Use AMD CPUs & GPUs to Reach 2 Exaflops

March 4, 2020

HPE and its collaborators reported today that El Capitan, the forthcoming exascale supercomputer to be sited at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and serve 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

IBM Unveils Latest Achievements in AI Hardware

December 13, 2019

“The increased capabilities of contemporary AI models provide unprecedented recognition accuracy, but often at the expense of larger computational and energet Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

IBM Debuts IC922 Power Server for AI Inferencing and Data Management

January 28, 2020

IBM today launched a Power9-based inference server – the IC922 – that features up to six Nvidia T4 GPUs, PCIe Gen 4 and OpenCAPI connectivity, and can accom Read more…

By John Russell

TACC Supercomputers Run Simulations Illuminating COVID-19, DNA Replication

March 19, 2020

As supercomputers around the world spin up to combat the coronavirus, the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) is announcing results that may help to illumina Read more…

By Staff report

University of Stuttgart Inaugurates ‘Hawk’ Supercomputer

February 20, 2020

This week, the new “Hawk” supercomputer was inaugurated in a ceremony at the High-Performance Computing Center of the University of Stuttgart (HLRS). Offici Read more…

By Staff report

Summit Joins the Fight Against the Coronavirus

March 6, 2020

With the coronavirus sweeping the globe, tech conferences and supply chains are being hit hard – but now, tech is hitting back. Oak Ridge National Laboratory Read more…

By Staff report

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