On January 21st, the launch ceremony for the ASC 2019 Student Supercomputer Challenge (ASC19) was held in Beijing. The event was attended by several hundred people, including academicians from the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE), heads of major supercomputer centers, supercomputing and AI experts, and representatives of participating teams. ASC19 has attracted more than 300 university teams across six continents. The top 20 teams in the preliminary will move on to the finals at Dalian University of Technology from April 21st to 25th, tackling challenges for CESM, the Community Earth System Model for studying climate change; SR, single image super-resolution; and HPL and HPCG, internationally accepted HPC benchmarks.
The CESM challenge will require participating teams to use supercomputers to replicate the process of global climate change in the decade before the Industrial Revolution and the first decade of the 21st century. CESM is the most widely used climate model in the world and one of the main climate models used by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to prepare its fifth and sixth assessment reports. CESM is a coupled climate model, including major modules for atmosphere, land, ocean, sea ice and land ice. Based on observed climactic information as an initial state, it uses the physical, chemical, and fluid dynamic and other equations to replicate the process of climate change on supercomputers. CESM has been used to simulate interactions between marine ecosystems and greenhouse gases; the effects of ozone, dust and other atmospheric chemicals on the climate; the influence of carbon cycles on the atmosphere, oceans and surfaces; and the impact of greenhouse gases on the upper atmosphere. Many other potential applications have yet to be explored.
In another challenge, teams will be required to design their own image super-resolution (SR) algorithms and train AI models, so as to use supercomputers to restore 80 blurred images as high-resolution ones within as short a time as possible, while meeting set standards for similarity. Image SR is a visual computing technology that has received great attention in recent years, aiming to recover or reconstruct low-resolution images into high-resolution ones. As deep learning techniques, especially the Generative Adversarial Networks (GAN), are introduced into SR research, this technology can be widely used in satellite and aerospace image analysis, medical image processing, compressed image/video enhancement and other applications.
Wang Endong, CAE academician and Chief Scientist of Inspur Group, and the sponsor of the ASC Challenge, noted that ASC has long been committed to providing a platform for young talent from around the world to exchange ideas and work together, helping to guide students in exerting their creativity and teamwork. Through these projects, students will be able to experience tackling major global challenges from a supercomputing perspective, helping to cultivate technical expertise in supercomputing and AI with an international vision and leading-edge analytical skills.
According to Yao Shan, Deputy President of Dalian University of Technology (DUT), the venue of the ASC19 finals, the institute places great emphasis on the development of supercomputing and has established a supercomputing center as an important public research platform for the construction of world-class academic institutions and disciplines. The university also attaches great importance to the training of supercomputer talent, having participated in ASC many times and achieved strong results. Hosting ASC19 will help boost DUT’s development of supercomputing talent and disciplines, and international exchanges and collaboration.
During ASC, the organizing committee held a training camp for the participating advisors and students, inviting HPC and AI experts from CAS, the State Key Laboratory of High-end Server & Storage Technology, Inspur, Intel, NVIDIA, Mellanox and others to explain the competition rules and lead training sessions on supercomputing skills. Topics included cluster design and evaluation, accelerated computing, and parallel optimization. Experts also introduced the SR and CESM tasks of the preliminary round and lectured on AI skills including the training and optimization of deep learning.
The ASC Student Supercomputer Challenge is the world’s largest student supercomputer competition, sponsored and organized by China and supported by Asian, European, and American experts and institutions. The main objectives of ASC are to encourage exchange and training of young supercomputing talent from different countries, improve supercomputing applications and R&D capacity, boost the development of supercomputing, and promote technical and industrial innovation. The annual ASC Supercomputer Challenge was first held in 2012 and has since attracted over 7,000 undergraduates from all over the world. Learn more ASC at https://www.asc-events.org/