On May 9, the final round of the 2018 ASC Student Supercomputer Challenge (ASC18) ended at Nanchang University. Tsinghua University was once again crowned Champion, while first-time finalist ShanghaiTech University won second place and received the e Prize Award.
Jointly hosted by the Asia Supercomputer Community, Inspur Group and Nanchang University, ASC18 enrolled over 300 participating teams from around the world, with the top 20 entering the final round. In addition to independently designing and building supercomputers up to 3000 Watts, the teams were required to run HPL/HPCG benchmark, tackle problems in AI machine reading and comprehension, along with optimizing cutting-edge scientific and engineering applications including RELION – a core application of the cryo-EM that won the 2017 Nobel in Chemistry, and NASA’s famous computational fluid-dynamics code CFL3D.
Among the finalists, the defending champion Tsinghua University completed the highest number of tasks, claiming a strong lead in the final round and retaining its title won the previous year. In the HPGG benchmark test, SIESTA, RELION and CFL3D challenges, Tsinghua University gave an impressive performance, demonstrating a profound comprehension of supercomputing systems and applications as well as excellent capabilities in optimizing performance.
ShanghaiTech University entered the ASC finals for the first time, finishing second and winning the e Prize Award in a surprise upset. In the highlight task in AI reading and comprehension, the team made innovations and improvements in model algorithm and performance training and completed the parallel model training of large-scale dataset within 8 hours. Moreover, the team’s prediction accuracy reached 46.46, close to the world cutting-edge level, winning them the e Prize Award.
The NTHU team designed a heterogeneous supercomputing system with Inspur servers and Tesla GPU accelerators with optimized power dispassion control. Their HPL performance reached 42.99 TFLOPS, improving the ASC17 record to a large extent and winning the Highest Linpack.
“It’s exciting to participate in a competition like ASC, and It’s heartening to see these students who have worked so hard and traveled so far to perform such challenging tasks and solve problems with hardware and software,” said Jack Dongarra, ASC Advisory Committee Chair, professor at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory of the United States and the University of Tennessee. “I hope the contest can be a truly satisfying experience for all participants, whether now or in the near future.”
Wang Endong, the initiator of the ASC challenge, academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, noted that currently, supercomputing and big data, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence are becoming increasingly integrated and interconnected. Supercomputers will become an important infrastructure for a smart society. The development speed and capability of supercomputers will be closely related to social development, improvement of living standards and the progress of civilization. As an international supercomputer competition, ASC will play an even more important role in cultivating integrated supercomputer talents and international academic exchanges, laying a solid foundation for the development of smart computing.