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Dan Olds is the owner and founder of Gabriel Consulting Group, a technology analysis and consulting firm based in Beaverton, Oregon. He pays particularly close attention to how technology continues to fundamentally transform both business and science.

Comp sci boffins Venus: HPC newbies post respectable score

Video We spent a few minutes on the last day of the SC12 Student Cluster Competition (SCC) talking to Team Venus from the University of the Pacific. This is not only their first year in the cluster competition, but also the first time any of the students have done anything at all HPC-related. Under the mentorship of Oak Ridge …

Team Taiwan: We're ready to win this thing

Video I’ve covered Taiwan’s National Tsing Hua University (NTHU) Student Cluster Competition team for three years now. And every time I talk to them they’re personable, friendly, and modest. Very modest. Too modest. This is a team with a serious pedigree that’s backed up by the best track record in the game. First of all, …

Team Venus disappears at computer sports smackdown

Video It was an exciting start to the real-time, non-stop 48-hour cluster challenge, in which the teams of undergrads design and assemble a small cluster and race to demonstrate the greatest sustained performance across a series of applications. Here’s a short video covering the beginning of the SC12 edition of the Student …

Cluster cake pulled open: Oozes cores, GPU gravy, mineral oil

At last, I can reveal the final configurations of the systems the SC12 Student Cluster Competition (SCC) warriors brought to Salt Lake City last week. Here’s the gear they were running… First, kudos to all of the sponsors who generously provided so much equipment at no cost to the cluster crown competitors. (There isn’t a real …

Chinese baby war-boffins bust 3Tflops, snatch student LINPACK crown

Salt Lake City is abuzz with news that China's NUDT team has once again snared the LINPACK benchmark crown at a student cluster-building competition. The team's record-breaking score of 3.014 TFLOPS topped all other competitors and marked the first time a student cluster team has broken through the 3 TFLOPS barrier. This is the …
spiders crawl through tunnel of binary numbers

Boiler Makers swing hammer at SC12, Team Taiwan tries for a three-peat

Video Team Taiwan (from Taiwan’s National Tsing Hua University) has a chance to become a three time Overall Award winner at the SC12 Student Cluster Competition here in Salt Lake City. They notched their first win at SC10 in New Orleans, repeated the feat the next year in Seattle, and are now looking for the hat trick in Salt …

Tianhe-1A schoolkids bring their best game, GPUs to cluster punchup

Video: Here’s a look at one of the two Chinese entries into the SC12 Student Cluster Competition. These kids are from the University of Science and Technology and are not only battling their cluster competitors, but are also fighting jet-lag, 8.5 inches (21cm) of snow, and my inability to speak slowly/clearly enough to be …

Texans forget deep fryer, add GPUs to lasso data-crunching crown

Meet the 2012 edition of the Texas Longhorn Student Cluster Competition team. This video was shot right after they received the scientific application data sets and had begun their initial processing. We discuss how they parcel up the work in their cluster and how they now have tools that give them a much better idea of what …

Snow and ice fail to freeze battlin' Big Iron bots in their tracks

It's time, once again, to meet some more plucky contenders in the SC12 Student Cluster Competition. Team Slippery Rock We meet the Slippery Rock team for the first time. They’re competing in the Mini Iron LittleFe division of the cluster-building contest. In the video they explain their strategy for achieving the best …

Meet the all-girl HPC cluster boffins of 'Team Venus' - on Video

It's time to meet some of the Big Iron cluster war contenders. Team Venus, the all-female Student Cluster Competition (SCC) team from the University of the Pacific, tells us how they found their way into the competition in their profile video below. They also discuss how they’re looking to encourage women to enter STEM ( …

Computer sports betting pool: WIN PILES OF virtual CASH!

As the greatest event in computer sports – the SC12 Student Cluster Competition (SCC) – prepares to kick off next week, tension is rising worldwide. Hordes of fans and industry insiders are analysing the computing tasks, picking their favorite team or teams, and arguing about it with their friends and even their enemies. We’ve …

High school kids wrestle uni students in mini-cluster match

Now that the US elections are over, it’s obvious that the world’s attention has shifted to the upcoming Student Cluster Competition (SCC), which will kick off next Monday at SC12 in Salt Lake City. The traditional ‘Big Iron’ competition (details here) has teams of undergraduates benchmarking their home-grown clusters to see …

Scraggly student veterans bid for SC12 victory

A couple of old-timer teams round out the field at the upcoming SC12 Student Cluster Competition (SCC) in Salt Lake City. These contests started in 2007 and between them, these two teams have participated in a total of nine matches. Each school has six team members plus three advisors/coaches. Let’s assume that the competition …
Appro Xtreme Cool water-cooled blade supercomputers

All-female code-crunching boffin team aims for cluster compo glory

A couple of new – and quite different – teams are looking to shake things up at next week’s SC12 Student Cluster Competition (SCC) in Salt Lake City. For the first time, we’ll see a coalition of elite schools combine forces to take on their more experienced competitors. We will also see another SCC first: an all-female team. …
Summer Palace, outside Tsinghua University. Pic by Bridget Coila, licensed under Creative Commons

China tries for 2012 WORLD cluster compo DOMINATION

According to Chinese astrologers, 2012 is the Year of the Dragon, and it’s certainly been a most auspicious year for Chinese HPC student cluster teams. So far this year*, China has completely dominated the Student Cluster Competition circuit. China's Tsinghua and NUDT university teams took both the Overall and highest LINPACK …
SoftLayer's data center

Two Texan teams tool up, ride out to enormo cluster shootout

People in most US states would be ecstatic (or, perhaps, totally indifferent) to hear that one of their universities made it to the 2012 Student Cluster Competition (SCC) in Salt Lake City, but the state of Texas wanted more - so it's sending two teams to the Great Salt Lake Siege. Details on cluster-building competition rules, …

Young HPC warriors grab Big Irons, whack away at Cold War plutonium waste

The apps for this year’s edition of the SC12 Student Cluster Competition are the typical mix of HPC workloads, chosen to represent a range of scientific disciplines and computational challenges. In order to drink deeply from the chalice of victory student teams will need to crawl inside each of the apps, find the bottlenecks, …

Olympics is over, prepare for a COMPUTER SPORTS SMACKDOWN

It’s November, which can mean only one thing for computer sports enthusiasts: it’s time for another Student Cluster Competition. The seventh edition of this annual event begins in about two weeks at the SC12 conference in beautiful Salt Lake City, Utah. The competition pits teams of university undergrads against each other in a …

Power and cooling: The Oak Ridge way

You think you have power and cooling issues? Slip into the shoes of Arthur ‘Buddy’ Bland, Project Director for the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, and learn how they keep one of the largest computing facilities in the world powered up, yet cool enough to prevent melting. I talked to Buddy recently about how Oak Ridge …

Big Blue bigwig: Tiny processor knobs can't shrink forever

While at IBM’s Smarter Computing Summit last week, I had the great pleasure of hearing Big Blue's Bernie Meyerson talk about limits to today’s tech, and the associated implications. Bernie is IBM’s VP of Innovation and one of the rare technologist-scientist types who can clearly and directly explain highly technical concepts in …
SoftLayer's data center

Why gov labs presenting HPC tech ≠ officials wolfing overpriced sushi

Our buddy Rich Brueckner over at insideHPC broke some news this week when he published a story about new conference and travel spending restrictions that might radically scale back US government agency participation in HPC industry events like the upcoming SC12 conference in Salt Lake City this November. The new strictures are …

Software disaster zone Knight Capital bags $400m lifeline

I recently wrote about how a bad round of software testing lost Wall Street trading firm Knight Capital an estimated $440m – enough to almost put the company out of business. I speculated that Knight could be bailed out if it's allowed to unwind its computer system's unexpected burst of loss-making trades on the stock market - …

How one bad algorithm cost traders $440m

Knight Capital, a firm that specialises in executing trades for retail brokers, took $440m in cash losses Wednesday due to a faulty test of new trading software. This morning reports were calling it a trading “glitch", which isn’t nearly as accurate as the term I’d use: “f**king disaster". The broad outline of the story is here …

Tsinghua, NUDT flatten rivals in ISC cluster smackdown

The 2012 ISC Student Cluster Challenge ended last week, and it’s high time we take a look at the winners, the awards and some of the results. Each of the five teams put in months of work designing its cluster and learning how to optimise it to run the various benchmarks and application codes featured in the competition. They …

HPC whizzkids battle own software on final day of student compo

It's the last day of the 2012 ISC Student Cluster Competition, and Stony Brook University (profile here) has had their work cut out for them so far... From the very beginning, they had software problems with their cluster, requiring them to concentrate on troubleshooting and repairing while their competitors were running code. …

ISC 2012: China's 'Pop Idols' seek Klusterkamph glory

Video The Tsinghua University team (profile here) didn’t take the easy route to the ISC 2012 Student Cluster Competition in Hamburg. They had to fight their way in a Pop Idols-style smackdown along with five other universities, which all competed to carry the Chinese flag in an intra-country play-in round. Tsinghua won that …

China's NUDT students hope GPUs will grind down rivals

China’s National University of Defense Technology (NUDT, profile here) is staying true to its heritage by being the only team to use a hybrid CPU/GPU system at the ISC 2012 Student Cluster Competition in Hamburg. NUDT, like Team Tsinghua, had to fight its way through five other Chinese university competitors to secure its spot …

ISC cluster kids KIT plan to drive off with vendor swag

The home team at the 2012 ISC Student Cluster Challenge, Team KIT (profile here), are a confident bunch. Not quite cocky, but confident. They made it through their first cluster competition with almost-flying colours – they had significant problems on only one of the surprise applications (WRF) on the first day of competition. …

T-shirt race stragglers aim for student cluster compo crown

We catch up with the University of Colorado team (profile here) on the last day of the 2012 ISC Student Cluster Competition (aka Hell on the Elbe) in Hamburg. Even though they were the last team to get started on the challenge (owing to their lackadaisical approach to the opening t-shirt scramble), they feel good about the …

Sequoia: Can anyone learn to wield this mighty HPC weapon?

Here at ISC 2012 in Hamburg, I sat in on a podcast with Rich Brueckner of insideHPC and Dr Jack Dongarra, co-founder of the Top500 list. We talked about the 20-year evolution of the list and, of course, Sequoia, the BlueGene/Q system that topped the June 2012 rankings. Dr Dongarra spoke about Sequoia’s very impressive number of …

Team America, take two: Meet Colorado's cluster kids

The other US-based team in the 2012 ISC Student Cluster Challenge is the University of Colorado, whose members hail from Boulder. Colorado is by far the most experienced team in the ISC version of this competition, having sent teams to all six SC cluster competitions. In fact, I recognised several of their current Hamburg team …

What do we know about GPUs? Tianhe-1A lives at our school

China’s NUDT (National University of Defense Technology) was the first Chinese team to compete at a Student Cluster Competition, making the trek to SC in Seattle in 2010. They came very close to winning the whole competition, finishing a very close second to Taiwan’s Tsinghua University. They also survived a gruelling intra- …

Meet China's cluster Pop Idol winners, Team Tsinghua on video

China universities have gone student cluster crazy over the past year. When China was allotted two team slots at the ISC 2012 Student Cluster Competition, more than 300 universities expressed interest in participating. Thirty schools submitted proposals, forcing the country to have a play-in round to select which two teams would …

US veterans Stony Brook face cluster compo crunch

The Stony Brook Seawolves are one of two US teams competing in the ISC 2012 Student Cluster Challenge in Hamburg this week. This isn’t the first time the school has participated in a contest like this, but it’s probably their longest road trip in terms of distance and culture (although NYC to Portland, Oregon is a close second …

Student HPC whizzkids in unusual competition start

The ISC Student Cluster Challenge kicked off last night in a unique manner. Rather than a simple shouted “Go!” or a loud tone sent over a bullhorn, the organisers confronted the university teams with a physical challenge, along the lines of the old Le Mans auto races. Each team had to run across the show floor to gather up six …

ISC Klusterkamph: Meet the home squad, Team KIT

Germany's cluster-competition entry, team KIT, is defending their home turf at the ISC 2012 Student Cluster Challenge this week in Hamburg. We spent a few minutes chatting with them as the competition was beginning. They were all smiles, but it was clear that they are serious about winning the competition. This is the first …

ISC cluster smackdown: Students whip out their tools

The final system configurations for the ISC 2012 Student Cluster Challenge have been locked down and can now be revealed. For the ISC inaugural event, we’re seeing a lot of sameness but a few key differences. On the "sameness" side, every team is sporting various flavours of Intel Sandy Bridge processors, with speeds ranging …
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China aims to redraw the petaflop graph with 100 Pflops in 2015

China shocked the supercomputing world in late 2010 with a chart-topping 2.56 Petaflop/sec Tianhe-1A. It was a surprising system on several levels: 1) it topped the incumbent number one box (Oak Ridge’s Jaguar) by almost 50%; 2) it was the first (and, so far, only) hybrid commodity combo of Intel Xeon and NVIDIA Tesla processors …
Cat 5 cable

German KIT v Fighting Seawolves in student cluster deathmatch

According to bettors, the upcoming ISC’12 Student Cluster Challenge in Hamburg will come down to a competition between home-country team KIT (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology) and the New York-based Stony Brook University Fighting Seawolves. (No, I don’t know what a ‘Seawolf’ is either.) isc12_odds_update The competition …
SGI logo hardware close-up

Newbie German team 3-to-1 fave in cluster building compo

Early money makes Germany’s Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) a heavy favorite to win both the LINPACK and Overall number-crunching benchmark competitions at next week’s Student Cluster Challenge in Hamburg, Germany. isc_betting_odds The high-performance computing competition, also known as “Hell on the Elbe: Student …

Supercomputers need standard shot glass to measure out juice

The biggest challenge in getting to the next level of supercomputer performance – Exascale – is the massive amounts of electricity these systems will consume. On a smaller scale, energy consumption also inhibits HPC installations. The problem isn’t just getting enough plugs from your walls to the grid; it’s also the cost of …
cable

Students face off in Hamburg home-cooked cluster clash

We’re a little less than two weeks away from the tip-off of the first ISC/HPCAC 2012 Student Cluster Competition. University teams representing the US, China, and host nation Germany will meet in an epic benchmark battle to prove which team can design and build the fastest homemade cluster. The only constraint is electricity – …

China sends likely pair to student cluster smackdown

China is sending two teams to the ISC Student Cluster Competition (iSCC) this June in Hamburg. Tsinghua University and the National University of Defense Technology were survivors of a rigorous Hunger Games-style play-in competition; they had to beat out four other teams for the coveted Hamburg spots. Chinese server/services …
cable

Americans invade Euro cluster compo

Two American universities vie for cluster fame and glory in the inaugural ISC'12 Student Cluster Competition (iSCC) in Hamburg next month. This competition, sponsored by Airbus, the HPC Advisory Council and ISC, gives university teams the chance to design, build, and benchmark their clusters against four teams of peers. They’re …

Germany's KIT drives hot-shot boffins to Klusterkampf

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Karlsruhe, Germany is the lone European entry in the ISC'12 Student Cluster Competition. As such, they’re carrying a huge weight on their solid Teutonic shoulders. KIT, as Team Germany, is charged with defending home-country student clustering honour against powerhouse teams from China …

The stage is set: Prepare for Hamburg cluster carnage

Now that China has settled on its two entrants to the ISC’12 Student Cluster Challenge (I’m dubbing it iSCC for short), it’s time to get a feel for the number-cruncher design competition and what the entrants will face. Airbus is the big-name sponsor of the iSCC this year and has played a vital role in getting this fledgling …

Student cluster warriors to face off on new battlefield: ISC

I’ve been following the annual SC Student Cluster Competition (SCC) for a few years now. It’s a great programme that pits teams of university undergrads against each other in the quest to design, build, and benchmark their own clustered systems. In the process they learn a lot about HPC, get a lot of exposure to the industry, …

Fusion-io stuffs workstation storage into bulging hand luggage

Fusion-io nabbed prime real estate on the GTC 2012 exhibit floor – right inside the entryway. They took advantage of it by offering a hosted oxygen bar, complete with an oxygen bartender and a wide selection of coloured/flavoured airs. I got the lowdown on their offerings (it's hospital grade oxygen – something I insist upon) …

Crazy Texans dunk servers in DEEP FRYERS

I first met the Green Revolution guys back at SC09 in Portland, Oregon. As I roamed the exhibit hall, people kept telling me to check out “those guys with the deep fryers full of servers”. At last I found them out in the lobby, which is the kids’ table section of the show. Above is a quick video of their demo that I shot while …
Broken CD with wrench

Mega 12ft interactive electro-whiteboard lures GTC12 punters

While wandering the exhibit floor at GTC12, my attention was captured by what looked like a massive (12ft x 4ft, 3.66m x 1.22m) electronic whiteboard with fast-moving screens portraying information in lots of different forms. Each window was being created, resized, moved, then closed at high speed without lag or distracting …