Why student cluster compos? A supercomputer kids' taskmaster explains

ASC17 coach on which tests and why

guitar player on shuttertsock photo of (sisyphus) man rolling a rock up a hill. photo by SHutterstock/PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek

HPC Blog As some of the blogs on the fifth annual ASC17 Asia Student Supercomputer challenge started to hit El Reg, we noticed a couple of comments that made me think that some of you out there are missing the point of these student cluster competitions. Here are a couple of them:

“So the newcomers won because they had two more NVIDIA GPUs installed. Who would have thought?”

“Gosh, I wonder how they can do better next year?”

“….the competition would be mostly about deferring your purchasing decisions until the last minute (to get the shiniest new things in your box), so what’s the point?”

There were a couple of commenters who pointed out that the key to the competition is the 3,000 watt power cap, and I added a comment about how the kids make their own hardware choices and that their expertise in hardware design, tuning, and optimizing applications is what makes the difference.

Coincidentally, I filmed a video with one of the coaches in the ASC17 competition that makes these points very eloquently. Dr Maciej Cytowski from the University of Warsaw is the coach of Team Warsaw and in the video he discusses how the competition has had a big impact on his team.

Youtube Video

As Dr Cytowski discusses in the video, his team made great strides forward during the competition, learning much more about real world computing than they would do in the classroom.

He’s done a damned good job with Team Warsaw. They were one of the big surprises at ASC17, shocking cluster competition aficionados by grabbing second place in the LINPACK competition.

Next up, we’ll cover who won what and why in our comprehensive ASC17 results coverage.


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