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Readers! Here's your chance to join the Celebrity Pro-Am Cluster Challenge

HPC pros take on students in cluster showdown

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SCC'13 For the first time, HPC professionals will compete against the SC13 Student Cluster Competition (SCC) teams in a winner-take-all cluster showdown. The new event, dubbed the “Celebrity Pro-Am Cluster Challenge”, will begin right after the students turn in their last SCC results on Wednesday afternoon, November 20.

The Pro-Am Challenge will kick off with the official introduction of the professional team at 5:30 PM on the SC13 exhibit floor in Denver. Your humble correspondent will be the emcee of this part of the competition and will, of course, document all the action.

The pros are to be led by Brent Gorda, GM of Intel’s High Performance Data Division. Brent has a long track record in HPC, including close to a decade working in advanced technology at Lawrence Livermore National Lab. He was also the CEO of Whamcloud from 2010 until it was acquired by Intel in 2012.

Brent is also one of the original founders of the Student Cluster Competition back at SC07 and has been a solid friend of the program ever since. Who better to lead the first team of professionals?

The application that the teams will be using as the competition benchmark will be revealed during the Wednesday afternoon opening ceremony. The student teams and pros will be able to stew over the app all night, but won’t receive the data sets they’ll be running until the next morning at 9:00 am sharp.

They will then compute their hearts out until the final gun at 11:30 am. The winning team will be announced at the SC13 Gala Awards Banquet, which begins at noon.

So what application will they be running? And who will be on the professional team? We don’t know yet. This is where Register readers come into the picture.

We welcome your suggestions for the Celebrity Pro-Am competition. Here are the requirements:

  • We’re looking for an app or computing problem that can be easily set up and run by both professionals and university students alike.
  • Since nearly every team will be using some sort of accelerator, we’d like an app that is accelerator friendly. This means code that has versions for both CUDA and Intel Phi co-processor.
  • It would also be great if the application or problem is something that is easily understood by semi-technical lay people. This will make it easier for us to explain the competition to the industry and general press.

You can let me know what you think in either the comments section of this article or via an email to clustercomp@gmail.com

Your dream can come true

What if you had the chance to actually be on the professional team? This could be a golden opportunity to truly become a legend in your own time. I can see it now, your grandchildren clustered around you shouting “Grandpa, grandpa, tell us again about how you were in the very first Celebrity Pro-Am Cluster Competition! Please? Pleaseeeee?”

We’re looking for a handful of computing professionals to fill out Brent’s professional team. But not just any mook, we’re looking for:

  • Someone who will be at SC13 and can be available (at a minimum) Wednesday afternoon for the team introductions and Thursday morning from 9:00 am until noon. No, we can’t fly you in or pay for your room or meals. Although I could probably be persuaded to provide some drinks and snacks to close the deal.
  • You need to have some serious computing skills and be familiar with clusters and making them run like a startled puma.
  • If you will be at SC13, have the time, have the skills, and want participate in a truly fun and educational event, drop me a line at a clustercomp@gmail.com. Be sure to let me know your qualifications and give me a way to reach you.

Let’s say that you do end up on Team Professional, I’ll bet you wonder what sort of gear you’ll be working with, right? Nothing but the best, pal, nothing but the best.

This event is very generously sponsored by Cray and Intel, which have enabled the Pro-Am Cluster Challenge wto become a reality.

Cray and Intel are providing the entire professional cluster from top to bottom. It’s top-of-the line gear, and includes some ‘playing field levelers’ that might prove useful in showing the students who’s boss. I can’t reveal the exact configuration here and now, but you’ll get all the details if you make the team or by reading about the competition here in The Register.

So give us your ideas for the competition application and let us know if you want to be on Team Professional at the inaugural Celebrity Pro-Am Cluster Challenge in Denver. It’s a chance to make history while defending the honor of your profession against the student competitors. But, bottom line? It’s going to be a lot of fun. ®

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