Long Flights to Cluster Fights: Meet the Asian Student Cluster Teams

By Dan Olds

November 22, 2017

Five teams from Asia traveled thousands of miles to compete at the SC17 Student Cluster Competition in Denver. Our cameras were there to meet ‘em, greet ‘em, and grill ‘em about their clusters and how they’re doing in the competition so far….

Team Nanyang got some great news on the second day of the competition:  They’d won the LINPACK Award and established a new Student Cluster Competition record score of 51.77 TFlop/s. This is way higher than the former record of 37.05 TFlop/s established just a few months before at ISC17.

In the video, we talk about how Nanyang has been steadily improving their cluster competition performance. We also discuss how they pulled off that great LINPACK score (hint:  it has something to do with fans).

Team NTHU (Taiwan) is all smiles as we film their introductory video. We did a full intro of the team and found out  how they’re dividing up the work. They don’t seem to be having any problems with the applications, their system is running fine, and all is good.

NTHU has a heralded history in the SC cluster competition. They participated in the very first student cluster competition way back in 2007, taking home the LINPACK award. Team Taiwan also nabbed a couple of Overall Championship trophies back in 2010 and 2011. Although they haven’t been in the winner’s circle lately, they have to be considered one of the elite teams and a contender for the championship.

University of Peking is competing in their second SC Student Cluster Competition. Team Peking turned in a solid performance in 2016, but is looking to do a whole lot better this year. In talking to the team, they were pleasantly surprised at the strength of their benchmark scores, as their system performed over spec.

The team is sporting 10 NVIDIA V100 accelerators on a single node configuration. Single-node? Huh? What’s the deal with that? How does a single-node system qualify as a cluster? Well, the team has answers for these questions, but you’ll have to watch the video to see it.

Tsinghua University is living in a pressure cooker. If they win the SC17 contest, they’ll be only the second team in history to earn the triple crown of student clustering, winning all three major tournaments (ASC, ISC, and SC) in a single year. The first team to accomplish this feat was another Tsinghua team back in 2015.

As you can see in the video, this is a seasoned and confident team. They’re not running their whole eight node cluster, having decided to run only five nodes (with ten NVIDIA V100 GPUs).

Team Tsinghua sees Born as the most difficult application, with 1,136 ‘shots’ that have to be completed in order to win the task. In a typical Tsinghua move, they ported Born over to their GPUs, then optimized the bejesus out of it to bring the run time for each shot down to minutes rather than hours.

Next up, we’ll take a look at the US based teams participating in the SC17 Student Cluster Competition. Stay tuned for more….

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