ASC18: Students Grapple with Grueling Applications

By Dan Olds

May 15, 2018

The ASC competitions are known for the punishingly difficult application tasks they ladle out to students at their annual student cluster competitions. As one long time student participant commented “The applications at ASC just keep getting harder and harder, it never stops.”

This year, the competition, held in Nanchang, China, is even more difficult since it’s a day shorter. The students only get two full days to handle their cluster business, rather than the traditional three. So what did the students do over those two days? Glad you asked. Let’s take a look their cluster competition tasks…

Teams have two days to put their clusters together both physically and mentally. They’re given nodes in boxes and bare racks and it’s their task to put the parts together and wire ‘em up. Then they have to load their software stack (o/s, libraries, management tools, etc.). The students can run anything they want, but the vast majority use CentOS as their operating system of choice.

The rest of Saturday and Sunday are consumed by testing and making final tweaks or wholesale changes to their cluster. Many of the teams at ASC18 overprovisioned their cluster by a wide margin, starting out with 10 or 12 nodes, even though they knew they were probably going to run fewer nodes when the competition started. Their reasoning is that they want to have the maximum amount of flexibility with their config and didn’t want to run the risk that they might not come up with a configuration that couldn’t cut the computational mustard.

A few teams configured systems that were too small to be competitive. They were, assumedly, looking at the label power on the nodes and trying to make sure they were right at the 3,000 watt mark. The better strategy is to over configure and then lower the power draw for each component in order to come in under the power cap. This means throttling back energy usage for CPUs, GPUs, fans, etc., and then testing their optimized applications under those conditions. The top tier teams have mastered these skills.

The competition started bright and early at 8:00 am on Monday. The first tasks were familiar ones: the HPL and HPCG benchmarks. There is a cash prize of 10,000 Yuan (about $1,500 US) for the team that wins the Highest LINPACK award, which raises the stakes even higher. HPCG is the more difficult benchmark to run and optimize, and it is also much more of a real world test than HPL, which makes it an important exercise in my mind. There isn’t an award for the highest HPCG, but I think there should be and will lobby that issue with all of the major competitions.

Teams also got the data sets for the RELION application. RELION is a life sciences 3D application that is used in the field of structural biology. It’s used to reconstruct biological structures in situations where x-ray, crystallography, and other methods fail to show the entire structure.

Monday also saw the unveiling of the ‘Mystery Application’, which is an secret application that the teams can’t prepare for. At ASC18, the mystery app was Siesta, which helps researchers perform efficient electronic structure calculations for molecular dynamics simulations. It scales linearly and is highly accurate.

Results for the benchmarks, RELION, and Siesta had to be turned in during the day on Monday.

On this, the last day of the competition, students were tasked with running two applications. The first was CFL3D, a computation fluid dynamics program that was developed by NASA Langley in the 1980s. It can be used for simulating and solving fluid-like flows in both 2D and 3D. It’s primarily used for external aerodynamics analysis.

The final application for the students is a challenge dubbed “Answer Prediction for Search Query”, which asks them to build an AI model that can understand a written document and correctly answer a question about it. Their model needs to be able to understand the context of the question in light of the document content – which is a highly sophisticated test.

The results for these applications had to be turned in before the end of day on Tuesday.

What happened on Wednesday is probably the most nerve racking part of the competition: the judge’s interview. This is where the student teams have to present their methodology and their competition results to a panel of HPC expert judges. After their presentations, the judges question the teams about their approach to the competition, why they did what they did, what they could have done differently, etc. Teams have to be very prepared prior to venturing into this lion’s den, as the judges aren’t known for cutting anyone any slack.

While the judges are all smiling in this picture, don’t let that fool you, they can be savage during the question and answer period with the students. They aren’t mean spirited in any way, but they have a knack for asking exactly the right questions to pinpoint a topic that the students aren’t quite prepared to discuss, or don’t want to discuss. It’s a gift they’ve developed through long experience with students and in the industry.

In our next article, we’re going to look at the results from LINPACK, stay tuned…

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

AMD’s EPYC Road to Redemption in Six Slides

June 21, 2018

A year ago AMD returned to the server market with its EPYC processor line. The earth didn’t tremble but folks took notice. People remember the Opteron fondly Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

HPC on Wall Street 2018 Booth Video Tours Playlist

Arista

Dell EMC

IBM

Intel

RStor

VMWare

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

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…

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