Meet the ISC18 Cluster Teams: Up Close & Personal

By Dan Olds

July 6, 2018

It’s time to meet your ISC18 Student Cluster Competition teams. While I was able to film them live at the ISC show, the trick was finding time to edit the videos, render them, deal with the flu, and finally get them uploaded to the web. That’s all done now, so it’s time to show you readers who’s who in the competition.

We learned a lot about the teams via their videos. One team makes a dramatic and heart rending plea to a big-time vendor. A member on another team reveals that competing in the cluster event is all part of his master plan to seize power in his department once the competition is over. The stories are both compelling and entertaining.

Heading down the list in alphabetical order….

Team South Africa (CHPC) is competing for the sixth time at ISC. In that time, they’ve built an enviable record of three gold and two silver medals – which is astounding. The team this year is a laid-back bunch. According to their coaches, it can take some time to get them started up and running. On the plus side, they’re plenty smart. In the video, we meet the team and learn a bit about what they’re all about. We also discuss how Tsinghua is their arch-enemy (in a cluster competition friendly sense) and how the CHPC kids have to get LINPACK working on their GPUs in order to have a shot at matching them.

Federal University of Parana (Brazil) is a first time competitor at ISC, or any cluster competition. They are a plucky bunch, wielding a non-accelerated CPU-only cluster against teams sporting as many as 16 GPUs. As we discuss in the video, they have an uphill climb ahead of them. We also give one kid a hard time for having to look at his name tag in order to introduce himself. I try to give them an inspirational speech to finish out the video, but it was only so-so in terms of quality since I hadn’t gotten up to my full cluster competition caffeine load for that day.

Fredrich Alexander University (Germany) is a long-time veteran of cluster competitions both foreign and domestic. In their seven previous appearances, the team has taken home the Highest LINPACK trophy, marking the first time a home team at ISC has nabbed a major award. As you’ll see in the video, one of the members of the FAU team is looking to parlay his competition experience into lordship over his department’s HPC cluster. This is his first step on the path to departmental power – he who controls the machine, controls who can use it and for how long…insert evil laugh here. We also discuss their quest to return the LINPACK crown to Germany, psychological warfare in the cluster competition, and other interesting topics.

Kasetsart University (Thailand) is participating in their third competition. They’re returning to action after an appearance in the 2018 ASC Finals, so they’re fairly fresh. When we catch up with the team, they’re very busy working on their benchmarking code, so we don’t have a chance to talk to the whole team. The team is running a dual node cluster with eight NVIDIA P100 GPUs, certainly enough firepower to give them a fighting chance against the other teams.

Nanyang Technological University (Singapore) is coming off a couple of a championship turns at the SC17 Student Cluster Competition. They won both the Overall Championship and the Highest LINPACK award, a rare feat. They’re looking to add some more trophies to the campus trophy case with this appearance at ISC18. Team Singapore knows the game, they’ve been in six major competitions, and now they’ve tasted the sweet nectar of victory from the golden chalice of glory. Can they do it again? Can anyone stop them from doing it again?

ShanghaiTech University is the school that no one expected to be here. They entered the ASC18 competition unheralded – a new university founded in 2013 with an entirely untested cluster team. No one figured on ShanghaiTech to finish second at ASC, which put them into the ISC18 finals. They’re running a more compact, yet more powerful cluster this time around – with four rather than five compute nodes and 16 rather than eight NVIDIA V100 GPUs. When we catch up with them for the video, they’ve already completed LINPACK (and achieved a respectable score) and are working on the applications. Definitely a team that is looking to join the elite cluster competition teams.

Tsinghua University (China) is a fixture in the top ranks of Student Cluster Competition teams. This is their 15th major competition, which is a record for a single school. They’ve also earned seven Gold Medals (Overall Championships), two Silvers, and two Bronze medals. Team Tsinghua looks to be in fine form when we’re filming the video – no problems, no big challenges. So how does Tsinghua do it? As near as I can tell, it’s their maniacal dedication to tuning and power control. They tend to know the applications better than most of their competitors and definitely know how to control their power usage better than most teams. Can they continue their winning streak?

UPC (Spain) positions themselves as “the weirdos who run ARM” at the Student Cluster Competition. Although they haven’t seen any major awards in their three previous attempts, the team is still committed to their architecture and isn’t looking to change. I’ve always figured an ARM platform can be competitive, but only if it has an accelerator punch. But that’s impossible, Team Spain explained to me, because NVIDIA hasn’t released an ARM-based version of CUDA. Sure, there’s an embedded version that works with Jetson, but the team needs a version that works with today’s full-throated ARM64 processors. Check out the video to hear the team explain the problem and plead with NVIDIA for the fix, it’s compelling video the whole family should see.

University of Edinburgh/EPCC (UK), with their dual node, 12 GPU cluster has their sights set firmly on taking back the LINPACK crown they won at ISC14. This is a pretty close-knit group and fun group as you’ll see from the video. It’s plain to see that they work well together and enjoy each other’s company. Will they triumph in their quest to bring the LINPACK trophy back to their rainy shore? Time will tell.

University of Hamburg (Germany) is the only competitor riding the Intel Phi chip in the competition. They’re sporting 10 of the CPU/accelerator hybrids, giving them a total of 680 CPU compute cores, the most in the competition. This fifth time competitor is still looking to find their way into the winner’s circle, but they’ve achieved steady improvement over the years. When we catch up to the team, they’re having some problems scaling some of the applications on their Phi’d up cluster. One interesting note: Team Hamburg had more operating system specialists (three) than any other cluster I’ve ever seen.

University of Heidelberg (Germany) is a first time competitor and the most local team, living merely 60 minutes from Frankfurt via train. When we catch up with the team, it’s Benchmark Day, and they’re working hard on their HPCC, HPCG, and HPL codes. Most of the kids on the team aren’t all that experienced in the HPC arts, but they’re learning fast. With their six node, eight GPU cluster, they have a competitive system, which helps, but it’s hard for a first time team to make a big impact in a major competition like ISC.

University of Warsaw is an enthusiastic team that is looking to rise in the rankings. This their third cluster rodeo, having competed at SC17 and ASC17 in the past. The team has some serious hardware, with three nodes and eight V100 GPUs. Team Warsaw is also sporting their first female member, who vows that she’ll provide enough intensity to drive the team over the top – but not so much intensity that the team will go over the 3,000 watt power cap. In the video, we get a chance to interview the various Team Warsaw advisors and coaches. They discuss how interest in Student Cluster Competitions is growing at the University of Warsaw that we’ll see more from the Warsaw teams in the future.

Phew, now that’s what I call an up close and personal introduction to the teams. We got all of that one. Next up, we’ll look at some of the results from the benchmarks…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!

Nvidia Rolls Out Certified Server Program Targeting AI Applications

January 26, 2021

Nvidia today launched a certified systems program in which participating vendors can offer Nvidia-certified servers with up to eight A100 GPUs. Separate support contracts directly from Nvidia for the certified systems ar Read more…

By John Russell

XSEDE Supercomputers Square Off Against Ebola

January 26, 2021

COVID-19 may have dominated headlines and occupied much of the world’s scientific computing capacity over the last year, but many researchers continued their work to keep other deadly viruses at bay. One of those, Ebol Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

What’s New in HPC Research: Galaxies, Fugaku, Electron Microscopes & More

January 25, 2021

In this regular feature, HPCwire highlights newly published research in the high-performance computing community and related domains. From parallel programming to exascale to quantum computing, the details are here. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Red Hat’s Disruption of CentOS Unleashes Storm of Dissent

January 22, 2021

Five weeks after angering much of the CentOS Linux developer community by unveiling controversial changes to the no-cost CentOS operating system, Red Hat has unveiled alternatives for affected users that give them severa Read more…

By Todd R. Weiss

China Unveils First 7nm Chip: Big Island

January 22, 2021

Shanghai Tianshu Zhaoxin Semiconductor Co. is claiming China’s first 7-nanometer chip, described as a leading-edge, general-purpose cloud computing chip based on a proprietary GPU architecture. Dubbed “Big Island Read more…

By George Leopold

AWS Solution Channel

Fire Dynamics Simulation CFD workflow on AWS

Modeling fires is key for many industries, from the design of new buildings, defining evacuation procedures for trains, planes and ships, and even the spread of wildfires. Read more…

HiPEAC Keynote: In-Memory Computing Steps Closer to Practical Reality

January 21, 2021

Pursuit of in-memory computing has long been an active area with recent progress showing promise. Just how in-memory computing works, how close it is to practical application, and what are some of the key opportunities a Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia Rolls Out Certified Server Program Targeting AI Applications

January 26, 2021

Nvidia today launched a certified systems program in which participating vendors can offer Nvidia-certified servers with up to eight A100 GPUs. Separate support Read more…

By John Russell

Red Hat’s Disruption of CentOS Unleashes Storm of Dissent

January 22, 2021

Five weeks after angering much of the CentOS Linux developer community by unveiling controversial changes to the no-cost CentOS operating system, Red Hat has un Read more…

By Todd R. Weiss

HiPEAC Keynote: In-Memory Computing Steps Closer to Practical Reality

January 21, 2021

Pursuit of in-memory computing has long been an active area with recent progress showing promise. Just how in-memory computing works, how close it is to practic Read more…

By John Russell

HiPEAC’s Vision for a New Cyber Era, a ‘Continuum of Computing’

January 21, 2021

Earlier this week (Jan. 19), HiPEAC — the European Network on High Performance and Embedded Architecture and Compilation — published the 8th edition of the HiPEAC Vision, detailing an increasingly interconnected computing landscape where complex tasks are carried out across multiple... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Saudi Aramco Unveils Dammam 7, Its New Top Ten Supercomputer

January 21, 2021

By revenue, oil and gas giant Saudi Aramco is one of the largest companies in the world, and it has historically employed commensurate amounts of supercomputing Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

President-elect Biden Taps Eric Lander and Deep Team on Science Policy

January 19, 2021

Last Friday U.S. President-elect Joe Biden named The Broad Institute founding director and president Eric Lander as his science advisor and as director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. Lander, 63, is a mathematician by training and distinguished life sciences... Read more…

By John Russell

Pat Gelsinger Returns to Intel as CEO

January 14, 2021

The Intel board of directors has appointed a new CEO. Intel alum Pat Gelsinger is leaving his post as CEO of VMware to rejoin the company that he parted ways with 11 years ago. Gelsinger will succeed Bob Swan, who will remain CEO until Feb. 15. Gelsinger previously spent 30 years... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Julia Update: Adoption Keeps Climbing; Is It a Python Challenger?

January 13, 2021

The rapid adoption of Julia, the open source, high level programing language with roots at MIT, shows no sign of slowing according to data from Julialang.org. I Read more…

By John Russell

Julia Update: Adoption Keeps Climbing; Is It a Python Challenger?

January 13, 2021

The rapid adoption of Julia, the open source, high level programing language with roots at MIT, shows no sign of slowing according to data from Julialang.org. I Read more…

By John Russell

Esperanto Unveils ML Chip with Nearly 1,100 RISC-V Cores

December 8, 2020

At the RISC-V Summit today, Art Swift, CEO of Esperanto Technologies, announced a new, RISC-V based chip aimed at machine learning and containing nearly 1,100 low-power cores based on the open-source RISC-V architecture. Esperanto Technologies, headquartered in... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Azure Scaled to Record 86,400 Cores for Molecular Dynamics

November 20, 2020

A new record for HPC scaling on the public cloud has been achieved on Microsoft Azure. Led by Dr. Jer-Ming Chia, the cloud provider partnered with the Beckman I Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

NICS Unleashes ‘Kraken’ Supercomputer

April 4, 2008

A Cray XT4 supercomputer, dubbed Kraken, is scheduled to come online in mid-summer at the National Institute for Computational Sciences (NICS). The soon-to-be petascale system, and the resulting NICS organization, are the result of an NSF Track II award of $65 million to the University of Tennessee and its partners to provide next-generation supercomputing for the nation's science community. Read more…

Is the Nvidia A100 GPU Performance Worth a Hardware Upgrade?

October 16, 2020

Over the last decade, accelerators have seen an increasing rate of adoption in high-performance computing (HPC) platforms, and in the June 2020 Top500 list, eig Read more…

By Hartwig Anzt, Ahmad Abdelfattah and Jack Dongarra

Aurora’s Troubles Move Frontier into Pole Exascale Position

October 1, 2020

Intel’s 7nm node delay has raised questions about the status of the Aurora supercomputer that was scheduled to be stood up at Argonne National Laboratory next year. Aurora was in the running to be the United States’ first exascale supercomputer although it was on a contemporaneous timeline with... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

10nm, 7nm, 5nm…. Should the Chip Nanometer Metric Be Replaced?

June 1, 2020

The biggest cool factor in server chips is the nanometer. AMD beating Intel to a CPU built on a 7nm process node* – with 5nm and 3nm on the way – has been i Read more…

By Doug Black

Programming the Soon-to-Be World’s Fastest Supercomputer, Frontier

January 5, 2021

What’s it like designing an app for the world’s fastest supercomputer, set to come online in the United States in 2021? The University of Delaware’s Sunita Chandrasekaran is leading an elite international team in just that task. Chandrasekaran, assistant professor of computer and information sciences, recently was named... Read more…

By Tracey Bryant

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

Top500: Fugaku Keeps Crown, Nvidia’s Selene Climbs to #5

November 16, 2020

With the publication of the 56th Top500 list today from SC20's virtual proceedings, Japan's Fugaku supercomputer – now fully deployed – notches another win, Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Texas A&M Announces Flagship ‘Grace’ Supercomputer

November 9, 2020

Texas A&M University has announced its next flagship system: Grace. The new supercomputer, named for legendary programming pioneer Grace Hopper, is replacing the Ada system (itself named for mathematician Ada Lovelace) as the primary workhorse for Texas A&M’s High Performance Research Computing (HPRC). Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

At Oak Ridge, ‘End of Life’ Sometimes Isn’t

October 31, 2020

Sometimes, the old dog actually does go live on a farm. HPC systems are often cursed with short lifespans, as they are continually supplanted by the latest and Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Gordon Bell Special Prize Goes to Massive SARS-CoV-2 Simulations

November 19, 2020

2020 has proven a harrowing year – but it has produced remarkable heroes. To that end, this year, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) introduced the Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Nvidia and EuroHPC Team for Four Supercomputers, Including Massive ‘Leonardo’ System

October 15, 2020

The EuroHPC Joint Undertaking (JU) serves as Europe’s concerted supercomputing play, currently comprising 32 member states and billions of euros in funding. I Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Intel Xe-HP GPU Deployed for Aurora Exascale Development

November 17, 2020

At SC20, Intel announced that it is making its Xe-HP high performance discrete GPUs available to early access developers. Notably, the new chips have been deplo Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia-Arm Deal a Boon for RISC-V?

October 26, 2020

The $40 billion blockbuster acquisition deal that will bring chipmaker Arm into the Nvidia corporate family could provide a boost for the competing RISC-V architecture. As regulators in the U.S., China and the European Union begin scrutinizing the impact of the blockbuster deal on semiconductor industry competition and innovation, the deal has at the very least... Read more…

By George Leopold

HPE, AMD and EuroHPC Partner for Pre-Exascale LUMI Supercomputer

October 21, 2020

Not even a week after Nvidia announced that it would be providing hardware for the first four of the eight planned EuroHPC systems, HPE and AMD are announcing a Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

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