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!

Insights from Optimized Codes on Cineca’s Marconi

February 15, 2019

What can you do with 381,392 CPU cores? For Cineca, it means enabling computational scientists to expand a large part of the world’s body of knowledge from the nanoscale to the astronomic, from calculating quantum effe Read more…

By Ken Strandberg

What Will IBM’s AI Debater Learn from Its Loss?

February 14, 2019

The utility of IBM’s latest man-versus-machine gambit is debatable. At the very least its Project Debater got us thinking about the potential uses of artificial intelligence as a way of helping humans sift through al Read more…

By George Leopold

ClusterVision in Bankruptcy, Fate Uncertain

February 13, 2019

ClusterVision, European HPC specialists that have built and installed over 20 Top500-ranked systems in their nearly 17-year history, appear to be in the midst of bankruptcy proceedings. According to Dutch news site Drimb Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HPE Systems With Intel Omni-Path: Architected for Value and Accessible High-Performance Computing

Today’s high-performance computing (HPC) and artificial intelligence (AI) users value high performing clusters. And the higher the performance that their system can deliver, the better. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Medical Research Powered by Data

“We’re all the same, but we’re unique as well. In that uniqueness lies all of the answers….”

  • Mark Tykocinski, MD, Provost, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Thomas Jefferson University

Getting the answers to what causes some people to develop diseases and not others is driving the groundbreaking medical research being conducted by the Computational Medicine Center at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. Read more…

South African Weather Service Doubles Compute and Triples Storage Capacity of Cray System

February 13, 2019

South Africa has made headlines in recent years for its commitment to HPC leadership in Africa – and now, Cray has announced another major South African HPC expansion. Cray has been awarded contracts with Eclipse Holdings Ltd. to upgrade the supercomputing system operated by the South African Weather Service (SAWS). Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Insights from Optimized Codes on Cineca’s Marconi

February 15, 2019

What can you do with 381,392 CPU cores? For Cineca, it means enabling computational scientists to expand a large part of the world’s body of knowledge from th Read more…

By Ken Strandberg

ClusterVision in Bankruptcy, Fate Uncertain

February 13, 2019

ClusterVision, European HPC specialists that have built and installed over 20 Top500-ranked systems in their nearly 17-year history, appear to be in the midst o Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

UC Berkeley Paper Heralds Rise of Serverless Computing in the Cloud – Do You Agree?

February 13, 2019

Almost exactly ten years to the day from publishing of their widely-read, seminal paper on cloud computing, UC Berkeley researchers have issued another ambitious examination of cloud computing - Cloud Programming Simplified: A Berkeley View on Serverless Computing. The new work heralds the rise of ‘serverless computing’ as the next dominant phase of cloud computing. Read more…

By John Russell

Iowa ‘Grows Its Own’ to Fill the HPC Workforce Pipeline

February 13, 2019

The global workforce that supports advanced computing, scientific software and high-speed research networks is relatively small when you stop to consider the magnitude of the transformative discoveries it empowers. Technical conferences provide a forum where specialists convene to learn about the latest innovations and schedule face-time with colleagues from other institutions. Read more…

By Elizabeth Leake, STEM-Trek

Trump Signs Executive Order Launching U.S. AI Initiative

February 11, 2019

U.S. President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order (EO) today launching a U.S Artificial Intelligence Initiative. The new initiative - Maintaining American L Read more…

By John Russell

Celebrating Women in Science: Meet Four Women Leading the Way in HPC

February 11, 2019

One only needs to look around at virtually any CS/tech conference to realize that women are underrepresented, and that holds true of HPC. SC hosts over 13,000 H Read more…

By AJ Lauer

IBM Bets $2B Seeking 1000X AI Hardware Performance Boost

February 7, 2019

For now, AI systems are mostly machine learning-based and “narrow” – powerful as they are by today's standards, they're limited to performing a few, narro Read more…

By Doug Black

Assessing Government Shutdown’s Impact on HPC

February 6, 2019

After a 35-day federal government shutdown, the longest in U.S. history, government agencies are taking stock of the damage -- and girding for a potential secon Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Quantum Computing Will Never Work

November 27, 2018

Amid the gush of money and enthusiastic predictions being thrown at quantum computing comes a proposed cold shower in the form of an essay by physicist Mikhail Read more…

By John Russell

Cray Unveils Shasta, Lands NERSC-9 Contract

October 30, 2018

Cray revealed today the details of its next-gen supercomputing architecture, Shasta, selected to be the next flagship system at NERSC. We've known of the code-name "Shasta" since the Argonne slice of the CORAL project was announced in 2015 and although the details of that plan have changed considerably, Cray didn't slow down its timeline for Shasta. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

The Case Against ‘The Case Against Quantum Computing’

January 9, 2019

It’s not easy to be a physicist. Richard Feynman (basically the Jimi Hendrix of physicists) once said: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourse Read more…

By Ben Criger

AMD Sets Up for Epyc Epoch

November 16, 2018

It’s been a good two weeks, AMD’s Gary Silcott and Andy Parma told me on the last day of SC18 in Dallas at the restaurant where we met to discuss their show news and recent successes. Heck, it’s been a good year. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Reportedly in $6B Bid for Mellanox

January 30, 2019

The latest rumors and reports around an acquisition of Mellanox focus on Intel, which has reportedly offered a $6 billion bid for the high performance interconn Read more…

By Doug Black

US Leads Supercomputing with #1, #2 Systems & Petascale Arm

November 12, 2018

The 31st Supercomputing Conference (SC) - commemorating 30 years since the first Supercomputing in 1988 - kicked off in Dallas yesterday, taking over the Kay Ba Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Looking for Light Reading? NSF-backed ‘Comic Books’ Tackle Quantum Computing

January 28, 2019

Still baffled by quantum computing? How about turning to comic books (graphic novels for the well-read among you) for some clarity and a little humor on QC. The Read more…

By John Russell

Contract Signed for New Finnish Supercomputer

December 13, 2018

After the official contract signing yesterday, configuration details were made public for the new BullSequana system that the Finnish IT Center for Science (CSC Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

SC 18 Virtual Booth Video Tour

Advania @ SC18 AMD @ SC18
ASRock Rack @ SC18
DDN Storage @ SC18
HPE @ SC18
IBM @ SC18
Lenovo @ SC18 Mellanox Technologies @ SC18
NVIDIA @ SC18
One Stop Systems @ SC18
Oracle @ SC18 Panasas @ SC18
Supermicro @ SC18 SUSE @ SC18 TYAN @ SC18
Verne Global @ SC18

Deep500: ETH Researchers Introduce New Deep Learning Benchmark for HPC

February 5, 2019

ETH researchers have developed a new deep learning benchmarking environment – Deep500 – they say is “the first distributed and reproducible benchmarking s Read more…

By John Russell

ClusterVision in Bankruptcy, Fate Uncertain

February 13, 2019

ClusterVision, European HPC specialists that have built and installed over 20 Top500-ranked systems in their nearly 17-year history, appear to be in the midst o Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Reflections and (Mostly Hopeful) Predictions

December 19, 2018

So much ‘spaghetti’ gets tossed on walls by the technology community (vendors and researchers) to see what sticks that it is often difficult to peer through Read more…

By John Russell

IBM Quantum Update: Q System One Launch, New Collaborators, and QC Center Plans

January 10, 2019

IBM made three significant quantum computing announcements at CES this week. One was introduction of IBM Q System One; it’s really the integration of IBM’s Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia’s Jensen Huang Delivers Vision for the New HPC

November 14, 2018

For nearly two hours on Monday at SC18, Jensen Huang, CEO of Nvidia, presented his expansive view of the future of HPC (and computing in general) as only he can do. Animated. Backstopped by a stream of data charts, product photos, and even a beautiful image of supernovae... Read more…

By John Russell

IBM Bets $2B Seeking 1000X AI Hardware Performance Boost

February 7, 2019

For now, AI systems are mostly machine learning-based and “narrow” – powerful as they are by today's standards, they're limited to performing a few, narro Read more…

By Doug Black

The Deep500 – Researchers Tackle an HPC Benchmark for Deep Learning

January 7, 2019

How do you know if an HPC system, particularly a larger-scale system, is well-suited for deep learning workloads? Today, that’s not an easy question to answer Read more…

By John Russell

Intel Confirms 48-Core Cascade Lake-AP for 2019

November 4, 2018

As part of the run-up to SC18, taking place in Dallas next week (Nov. 11-16), Intel is doling out info on its next-gen Cascade Lake family of Xeon processors, specifically the “Advanced Processor” version (Cascade Lake-AP), architected for high-performance computing, artificial intelligence and infrastructure-as-a-service workloads. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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