ASC23: Who Won & Why?

By Dan Olds

June 14, 2023

Following up on the press release from the ASC23 organizers with the official competition finish, I wanted to add a little of my own analysis, as usual.

On-Site Results:  Overall champion, Peking University, took home the gold via a circuitous route through the competition tasks. Out of the eight scored applications and benchmarks, Team Peking only scored one outright victory, a win on WRF-Hydro. Winning on this particular app worked very much in their favor, as it was one of the most difficult applications and most other teams scored significantly fewer points. They also finished second on DeepMD and third on YLLM, which definitely helped their cause.

Likewise, the second-place winner, the University of Science & Technology of China, put together their overall score with only one outright win (on YLLM), but they consistently turned in solid scores on the rest of the applications, even though they didn’t place in the top three on any of the other highly weighted apps.

This is actually pretty common in student cluster competitions. Most of the time, the winning teams come out on top not by winning every application but by scoring decently on all of the applications. The key is to turn in a valid result for every workload, getting a zero on anything is usually the kiss of death for championship dreams.

Zhejiang took home the Highest LINPACK award, as expected, with their single node, eight GPU system, which was tailor-made to win this benchmark.

Virtual Results:  The Chinese University of Hong Kong took first place in a closely fought competition, which was a bit of a surprise to this long-time cluster competition observer. This is the fourth time this university has competed and the first time they’re won any award, much less a championship. It wasn’t a perfect competition for them, they missed on two of the highly weighted applications, but put together a strong record on the others.

National Tsing Hua University, an institution that has participated in more than 20 competitions and won more than 13 awards, took home second-place. This team was regarded as the odds-on favorite to win the ASC23 virtual competition, but suffered from misses on three of the eight applications, which took a big toll on their overall score.

Congratulations to all of the teams who competed in the ASC23 event. They learned a lot about real-world HPC/AI, which makes them all winners – it’s just that the teams above won a little bit more, that’s all. The organizers should also be congratulated for pulling off a great event. It ran very smoothly, the facilities were great, and the students were well taken care of, which is important since college students need a lot of care and feeding.

Finishing out the 2023 student cluster competition schedule is the SC23 event, which will take place at SC23 this November.

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