Team Wits-A, from left: Ari Croock, James Allingham, Sasha Nidoo, Robert Clucas, Vyacheslav Schevchenko, Nabeel Rajab, Paul Osel Sekyere, and Jenalea Miller (as CHPC Director Happy Sithole looks on in the foreground).
At the Dec. 1-5, 2014 South African Center for High Performance Computing’s (CHPC) Ninth National Meeting, student-participants of their third annual student cluster challenge worked diligently under the leadership of CHPC Supervisors David Macleod and Nicholas Thorne. South Africa hopes for a three-peat victory in July at the HPC Advisory Council’s International Supercomputing Conference (HPCAC-ISC) Student Cluster Competition in Frankfurt, Germany.
When the week-long contest concluded, “Team Wits-A” from the University of Witwatersrand reigned supreme. “Computing-Moore” captured second, and “Team Wits-E” placed third. The award for best provisioning of nodes went to “Bi-Winning,” a team that believed whether they won or lost, they will consider themselves winners for having had the opportunity to compete. “Cluster-Buster” won the Linpack award, and “Kat Exhibition” was most improved.
Kruger National Park was the perfect setting for the conservation-themed meeting titled “Towards an Energy-Efficient HPC System,” but the environment proved to be extra challenging for the contest, with occasional power outages and a saturated Wi-Fi network. The playing field was level, however, and the conditions prepared the students to be persistent and to not take anything for granted–good lessons for life, in general!
Eight teams with 32 competitors were selected in Sept. from among 84 applicants. The teams first began working together on Nov. 30 to compete for a chance to win a Dell tablet computer, a trip to Kruger Park for the CHPC meeting and cluster competition, and a journey to Austin, Texas-US where they will visit Dell’s research and design facility and the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC). Additionally, Intel and Rectron will donate a Xeon Phi to their university and provide full sponsorship and support for their July trip to HPCAC-ISC in Frankfurt, Germany.
Each team selected components from a menu of items provided by CHPC and contest sponsors. The clusters they built had to successfully run a number of applications, including HPCL, HPCG and OpenFoam. Once benchmarks for each application were met, they were presented with a last-minute surprise challenge.
Master of Ceremonies Hakizumwami Birali Runesha (University of Chicago-US) was impressed with this year’s contestants. “Few had experience with HPC or Linux six months ago, but now they are world-class competitors,” he said, and thanked student cluster challenge sponsors Dell, Mellanox, Rectron, Huawei, Intel, Eclipse Holdings, and Amazon Web Services. Intel was a Diamond Sponsor for the CHPC conference, and Dell was the main sponsor of the student cluster challenge.
Dell Senior Account Executive Sabine Dedering thanked the teams for their hard work and dedication to excellence. Dedering will host CHPC Team Wits-A’s visit to Dell headquarters in Austin, Texas before they attend HPCAC-ISC in July.
CHPC Director Happy Sithole welcomed 305 attendees from 19 countries, including the students, to this year’s meeting. He invited everyone to return next year for their tenth national meeting in beautiful Port Elizabeth, known as the “Friendly City.” Watch for updates about the HPCAC-ISC Student Cluster Competition, and more information about the 2015 conference on the CHPC site.
Watch the YouTube video to see more photos from the week!