ASC19: NTHU Returns to Glory

By Dan Olds

May 11, 2019

As many of you Student Cluster Competition fanatics know by now, Taiwan’s National Tsing Hua University (NTHU) won the gold medal at the recently concluded ASC19 cluster competition in Dalian, China.

But what you don’t know is how they won and just how close the final scores were…so here’s the rest of the story.

On the first day, Beihang University came off the top rope and laid a big flying elbow on the rest of the field by posting a 50.21 teraflops Linpack score. The next closest team, cluster competition newcomer Jinan U, was well behind Team Beihang, notching a score of 39.68. Beihang more than doubled the field average result of 24.28, putting them firmly in the driver’s seat after the first benchmark. NTHU was third in Linpack, giving them some points and keeping them in the race.

NTHU came roaring back with a near record-breaking score of 2004.96 gigaflops on the HPCG benchmark — grabbing all 18 points for the first-place finish. Beihang shared second with SUSTech, which at this point in the competition, was enough to keep Beihang virtually tied with NTHU for first place. Traditional student cluster powerhouse Tsinghua kept themselves in the game by taking fourth on both Linpack and HPCG.

Coming at the end of day one, CESM was a real game changer. This application, written in the early 1980’s, almost drove teams insane with compiler errors, hot spots, and inability to parallelize with anything less than an entire rewrite or alien intervention. It was absolutely the most difficult application in the ASC19.

From a scoring standpoint, CESM was a nightmare application that wrecked some dreams of student cluster competition glory. However, a few teams were able to tame CESM and ride it, giving them a vehicle to take them from mid-pack player to real contender.

Sun Yat-Sen took down the rest of the field by a wide margin on CESM, with Shanghai Jaio Tong pulling down second place. Tsinghua strengthened their championship hopes by grabbing third place while NTHU had to make do with a distant fourth. Beihang stumbled on CESM and it nearly took them out of the race for the top slot.

ASC19 Day Two

Going into day two, there were four teams vying for the lead:  NTHU, Tsinghua, Sun Yat-Sen, and Beihang. These teams were in control of their own destinies. Other teams still had a chance for an upset victory, but they had to rely on the top teams making mistakes or being off their game.

This was a very busy day for the competitors. Their first task was to get genome assembler WTDBG2 to scale to more than one node – which had been problematic for most teams during the warm ups.

NTHU put the lumber to the ball and hit WTDGB2 out of the park with a perfect 100 percent score. Beihang stayed in contention with a score of 93 percent and Tsinghua swiped a third-place finish from SUSTech by a mere three percentage points. At this point, NTHU has a great chance to run the table for the championship, but Tsinghua was still lurking in second place, ready to pounce.

Faces SR was the next application up for the student teams. This is the app where the students are presented with blurred faces and have to use AI and other tools to get the highest resolution possible in the shortest amount of time.

Team Beihang put on a masterful performance, pounding Faces SR for a perfect score of 100 percent. Jinan took second place, with NTHU and Tsinghua third and fourth respectively. According to the official referee score cards, NTHU was still clinging to their first-place position, but Tsinghua was less than a point behind them with Sun Yat-Sen and Beihang closing in.

ShengBTE, an application used for solving the hugely popular Boltzmann Transport Equation, was the mystery app at ASC19. SUSTech threw down a big 100 percent score and vaulted themselves up a few spots while Sun Yat-Sen mounted a valiant charge with their score of 96.6 percent — but would it be enough to get them on the podium? NTHU and Tsinghua remained deadlocked with their scores of 70.97 percent and 68.13 percent.

With only the interview to go, NTHU was holding onto a vanishingly thin margin over Tsinghua, with Sun Yat-Sen and Beihang still banging on the door.

ASC19 Day Three

The ASC19 interview room is a scary place. Students are confronted by genuine HPC experts, including some of the biggest names in the game. The teams have to put on a short presentation and then brace themselves for the questioning that is sure to follow.

Peking University did an outstanding job on the interview with a perfect 100 percent score. Tsinghua also nailed the interview with a 100 – was this enough for them to catch up with and surpass NTHU? Sun Yat-Sen continued their furious comeback with a 96 percent and Team Beihang kept it close with their score of 84. NTHU stumbled a bit in the interview, uncharacteristically taking ninth place with a score of 83 percent. Would this spell disaster for the kids from Taiwan? Could they possibly still hold onto their slim lead?

Yes, they could. By the slenderest of margins, NTHU took home the championship, topping arch-rival Tsinghua by just over a percentage point. Sun Yat-Sen University took home the Bronze Medal with their overall score of 70.99 percent. Beihang took fourth and newcomer Jinan turned in a fifth-place final score.

NTHU was one of the very first teams to participate in a Student Cluster Competition. They can trace their lineage all the way back to 2007, when the first competition was held in Reno. This marks the 15th competition for NTHU and gives them their first Gold medal since 2011. The team has won a total of three Gold medals, plus four Highest LINPACK prizes.

With their first-place finish, NTHU gets their ticket punched for the ISC19 finals which will take place in Frankfurt, Germany, next month. Tsinghua was already invited to this important event, so they receive a bye into the ISC competition. This means that third-place finisher Sun Yat-Sen will take the second ISC slot reserved for the ASC winners and make the trip to Germany.

E-Prize & Application Innovation

Sun Yat-Sen University took home the prestigious E-Prize for their outstanding performance on the troublesome CESM application. As we saw above, Sun Yat-Sen topped the 20 team field by a wide margin on this application.

Jinan University earned one of the two Application Innovation awards, which is an impressive accomplishment in their first competition. There was another first as well – EAFIT also earned an Application Innovation Award, their first major award. SUSTech was the third Application Innovation award winner, good job to all three teams.

So What Have We Learned?

There are several takeaways from this ASC19 cluster competition event. The first is that it is totally AWESOME to hold a cluster competition in a real stadium. There’s plenty of room, great heat dispersion, and massive scoreboards for the power meters.

The second thing we’ve learned is that CESM is a either a horrible application (if you’re a student) or a great test of student optimizing abilities (if you’re a judge).

The results from ASC19 also reinforce something that I’ve been telling every cluster competition team:  you don’t have to win every benchmark and application to become the champion – but you do have to turn in a result for every application.

NTHU won the HPCG benchmark and WTDBG2 application outright, but only finished in the top handful of teams on the other tasks. Tsinghua, the second-place winner, didn’t win any of the benchmarks or tasks, but they turned in competitive results on every challenge. That’s the key to being competitive in these events – consistent performance.

Final Note

I would be remiss if I didn’t recognize Inspur for sponsoring yet again another fantastic ASC Student Cluster Competition. Inspur is the only vendor to put on an entire competition on their own, providing all of the equipment, facilities, translators, and other support for 20 teams — which is probably close to 150 people. A sincere thank you to Inspur, plus the legion of volunteers from Dalian University, for putting on the competition, making it a great experience for the student teams and easy for me to cover.

The next big event on the Student Cluster Competition calendar is the ISC19 competition, which kicks off in the middle of June. You’ll see many of these ASC19 teams competing at this tourney and we’ll be covering it with our typical OCD depth and breadth. I hope this coverage has converted some of you to Student Cluster Competition fans and supporters. If not, try harder, ok?

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!

San Diego Supercomputer Center to Welcome ‘Expanse’ Supercomputer in 2020

July 18, 2019

With a $10 million dollar award from the National Science Foundation, San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at the University of California San Diego is procuring a new supercomputer, called Expanse, to be deployed next Read more…

By Staff report

Informing Designs of Safer, More Efficient Aircraft with Exascale Computing

July 18, 2019

During the process of designing an aircraft, aeronautical engineers must perform predictive simulations to understand how airflow around the plane impacts flight characteristics. However, modeling the complexities and su Read more…

By Rob Johnson

How Fast is Your Rubik Solver; This One’s Probably Faster

July 18, 2019

In the race to solve Rubik’s Cube, the time-to-finish keeps shrinking. This year Philipp Weyer from Germany won the 10th World Cube Association (WCA) Championship held in Melbourne, Australia, with a 6.74-second perfo Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Bring the Combined Power of HPC and AI to Your Business Transformation

A growing number of commercial businesses are implementing HPC solutions to derive actionable business insights, to run higher performance applications and to gain a competitive advantage. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Smarter Technology Revs Up Red Bull Racing

In 21st century business, companies that effectively leverage their information resources – thrive. As it turns out, the same is true in Formula One racing. Read more…

Intel Debuts Pohoiki Beach, Its 8M Neuron Neuromorphic Development System

July 17, 2019

Neuromorphic computing has received less fanfare of late than quantum computing whose mystery has captured public attention and which seems to have generated more efforts (academic, government, and commercial) but whose Read more…

By John Russell

Informing Designs of Safer, More Efficient Aircraft with Exascale Computing

July 18, 2019

During the process of designing an aircraft, aeronautical engineers must perform predictive simulations to understand how airflow around the plane impacts fligh Read more…

By Rob Johnson

Intel Debuts Pohoiki Beach, Its 8M Neuron Neuromorphic Development System

July 17, 2019

Neuromorphic computing has received less fanfare of late than quantum computing whose mystery has captured public attention and which seems to have generated mo Read more…

By John Russell

Goonhilly Unveils New Immersion-Cooled Platform, Doubles Down on Sustainability Mission

July 16, 2019

Goonhilly Earth Station has opened its new datacenter – an enhancement to its existing tier 3 facility – in Cornwall, England, touting an ambitious commitme Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

ISC19 Cluster Competition: Application Results, Finally!

July 15, 2019

Our exhaustive coverage of the ISC19 Student Cluster Competition continues as we discuss the application scores below. While the scores were typically high, som Read more…

By Dan Olds

Nvidia Expands DGX-Ready AI Program to 19 Countries

July 11, 2019

Nvidia’s DGX-Ready Data Center Program, announced in January and designed to provide colo and public cloud-like options to access the company’s GPU-powered Read more…

By Doug Black

Argonne Team Makes Record Globus File Transfer

July 10, 2019

A team of scientists at Argonne National Laboratory has broken a data transfer record by moving a staggering 2.9 petabytes of data for a research project.  The data – from three large cosmological simulations – was generated and stored on the Summit supercomputer at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF)... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Nvidia, Google Tie in Second MLPerf Training ‘At-Scale’ Round

July 10, 2019

Results for the second round of the AI benchmarking suite known as MLPerf were published today with Google Cloud and Nvidia each picking up three wins in the at Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Applied Materials Embedding New Memory Technologies in Chips

July 9, 2019

Applied Materials, the $17 billion Santa Clara-based materials engineering company for the semiconductor industry, today announced manufacturing systems enablin Read more…

By Doug Black

High Performance (Potato) Chips

May 5, 2006

In this article, we focus on how Procter & Gamble is using high performance computing to create some common, everyday supermarket products. Tom Lange, a 27-year veteran of the company, tells us how P&G models products, processes and production systems for the betterment of consumer package goods. Read more…

By Michael Feldman

Cray, AMD to Extend DOE’s Exascale Frontier

May 7, 2019

Cray and AMD are coming back to Oak Ridge National Laboratory to partner on the world’s largest and most expensive supercomputer. The Department of Energy’s Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Graphene Surprises Again, This Time for Quantum Computing

May 8, 2019

Graphene is fascinating stuff with promise for use in a seeming endless number of applications. This month researchers from the University of Vienna and Institu Read more…

By John Russell

AMD Verifies Its Largest 7nm Chip Design in Ten Hours

June 5, 2019

AMD announced last week that its engineers had successfully executed the first physical verification of its largest 7nm chip design – in just ten hours. The AMD Radeon Instinct Vega20 – which boasts 13.2 billion transistors – was tested using a TSMC-certified Calibre nmDRC software platform from Mentor. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

TSMC and Samsung Moving to 5nm; Whither Moore’s Law?

June 12, 2019

With reports that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TMSC) and Samsung are moving quickly to 5nm manufacturing, it’s a good time to again ponder whither goes the venerable Moore’s law. Shrinking feature size has of course been the primary hallmark of achieving Moore’s law... Read more…

By John Russell

Deep Learning Competitors Stalk Nvidia

May 14, 2019

There is no shortage of processing architectures emerging to accelerate deep learning workloads, with two more options emerging this week to challenge GPU leader Nvidia. First, Intel researchers claimed a new deep learning record for image classification on the ResNet-50 convolutional neural network. Separately, Israeli AI chip startup Hailo.ai... Read more…

By George Leopold

Nvidia Embraces Arm, Declares Intent to Accelerate All CPU Architectures

June 17, 2019

As the Top500 list was being announced at ISC in Frankfurt today with an upgraded petascale Arm supercomputer in the top third of the list, Nvidia announced its Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Top500 Purely Petaflops; US Maintains Performance Lead

June 17, 2019

With the kick-off of the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) in Frankfurt this morning, the 53rd Top500 list made its debut, and this one's for petafl Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

ISC 2019 Virtual Booth Video Tour

CRAY
CRAY
DDN
DDN
DELL EMC
DELL EMC
GOOGLE
GOOGLE
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
PANASAS
PANASAS
VERNE GLOBAL
VERNE GLOBAL

Intel Launches Cascade Lake Xeons with Up to 56 Cores

April 2, 2019

At Intel's Data-Centric Innovation Day in San Francisco (April 2), the company unveiled its second-generation Xeon Scalable (Cascade Lake) family and debuted it Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Cray – and the Cray Brand – to Be Positioned at Tip of HPE’s HPC Spear

May 22, 2019

More so than with most acquisitions of this kind, HPE’s purchase of Cray for $1.3 billion, announced last week, seems to have elements of that overused, often Read more…

By Doug Black and Tiffany Trader

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Hardware That Powered the Black Hole Image

June 24, 2019

Two months ago, the first-ever image of a black hole took the internet by storm. A team of scientists took years to produce and verify the striking image – an Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Announcing four new HPC capabilities in Google Cloud Platform

April 15, 2019

When you’re running compute-bound or memory-bound applications for high performance computing or large, data-dependent machine learning training workloads on Read more…

By Wyatt Gorman, HPC Specialist, Google Cloud; Brad Calder, VP of Engineering, Google Cloud; Bart Sano, VP of Platforms, Google Cloud

Why Nvidia Bought Mellanox: ‘Future Datacenters Will Be…Like High Performance Computers’

March 14, 2019

“Future datacenters of all kinds will be built like high performance computers,” said Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang during a phone briefing on Monday after Nvidia revealed scooping up the high performance networking company Mellanox for $6.9 billion. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Chinese Company Sugon Placed on US ‘Entity List’ After Strong Showing at International Supercomputing Conference

June 26, 2019

After more than a decade of advancing its supercomputing prowess, operating the world’s most powerful supercomputer from June 2013 to June 2018, China is keep Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

In Wake of Nvidia-Mellanox: Xilinx to Acquire Solarflare

April 25, 2019

With echoes of Nvidia’s recent acquisition of Mellanox, FPGA maker Xilinx has announced a definitive agreement to acquire Solarflare Communications, provider Read more…

By Doug Black

It’s Official: Aurora on Track to Be First US Exascale Computer in 2021

March 18, 2019

The U.S. Department of Energy along with Intel and Cray confirmed today that an Intel/Cray supercomputer, "Aurora," capable of sustained performance of one exaf 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