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Asleep on the job: Students dream of GROPING RACKS after darkness falls

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HPC blog Student Cluster competitions at the annual Supercomputing Conference in Denver, Colorado, are marathons. The students who work their magic on the big iron get a set of scientific applications and some data sets, but they have only 48 hours to submit their best results – all while keeping their self-designed clusters under the 26 amp (@115 volts) power cap.

Back in the early years of the formal cluster competitions, there was a lot to see during the overnight shift. Impromptu games of football, informal laptop fuelled midnight movies, plus students looking for the softest (and longest) sofa in the trade show booths to use for a nap.

But in the last few years, the graveyard cluster shift became a much lonelier place. Students got smart and rigged their systems so that they could be managed remotely. This way, they could rest in their hotel rooms while their boxes chugged away.

Although this is easier on the students, I think it takes a bit away from the traditional flavour of the competition. However, either the rules or how they're enforced seemed to change this year. Students can receive trouble messages from their server, but aren’t allowed to connect to it from afar.

Youtube Video

This rule against remote management, plus the need to get in as much optimisation as possible, means that there were quite a few teams hanging around at midnight to 1am when I shot the short video above. Hope all that hard work paid off... ®

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