The application reviews have been completed and the SC16 Student Cluster Competition (SCC) committee has invited 14 teams to compete in this year’s event in Salt Lake City. The teams hail from across the U.S., as well at Asia, Europe and South America.
The competition will feature six universities competing for the first time: Peking University from China, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, and Auburn University, San Diego State University, Texas State University and the University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign, all in the U.S. respectively. A team from the University of Utah will be competing for the second time and looking for a home-field advantage.
“One interesting thing this year is that almost half of the teams we selected have not participated in the competition before,” said SC16 SCC Chair Stephen Lien Harrell of Purdue University. “On other hand, the University of Texas at Austin team, which won at SC12, SC13 and SC14, will be rejoining the competition this year, but teamed with newcomer Texas State University.”
Interested teams had to submit their proposals by April 22. A team of 18 reviewers then reviewed the proposals, each of which was reviewed five times, and submitted their scores.
Of the 16 teams applying, the following were selected:
• Team MGHPCC, United States
• Friedrich-Alexander University, Germany
• Huazhong University of Science and Technology, China
• Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
• National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan
• Northeastern University/Auburn University, United States
• Peking University, China
• San Diego State University, United States
• Technical University of Munich, Germany
• Universidad EAFIT, Colombia
• University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, United States
• University of Science and Technology of China, China
• University of Texas at Austin/Texas State University, United States
• University of Utah, United States
The first SCC was held at SC07 in Reno, Nev., and over the years has spawned similar events in China, Germany and South Africa. One thing that differentiates the SC conference version is that the teams compete around the clock, while the others shut down overnight.
“I think competing around the clock is part of the fun of the competition,” said Harrell, who was the advisor for Purdue University teams that competed at four SC conferences, twice at the event in Germany and once in China. “There’s something special about being there after hours in the convention center, with your team as you go at it all night. I like how our competition has always had that edge to it.”
Harrell, who first brought a Purdue team to SC10, said he wanted to use his experience as an advisor to make the SC event even more successful. “I thought I could make a difference in a good way – I’ve seen the potential and watched it grow over the years,” he said. “I thought it would be cool to help grow it and expand it.”
Getting accepted to compete is but one hurdle in the lead-up to November. The submitted proposals mostly focused on the computer architectures and many were produced by students in a class. Now the schools that were accepted need to select the six students who will make up each team, Harrell said.
And the proposed architectures can also change over the summer, with final specifications due in the fall.
“The main thing now is for the advisors to prepare their students to do real high performance computing, which is a much bigger job than I have as SCC chair,” said Harrell, whose responsibilities at Purdue include helping faculty introduce HPC in the domain science curricula.
A new wrinkle for SC16 will be the SCC Reproducibility Initiative. This is the first time that students will be challenged to reproduce a paper rather than run prescribed data sets.
“We want students to understand, early in their careers, the important role reproducibility plays in research,” Harrell said. “Reproducibility is a big topic in both domain science and HPC and we want students to learn about both aspects of this topic.”
In fact, Harrell said, bringing home knowledge from the SCC is as important for students as bringing home the title of champion.
“Our Purdue teams never won, but I always felt the students walked away with something they wouldn’t have otherwise – it was very worthwhile,” he said. “There aren’t a lot of HPC classes and most are for graduate students. “The SCC is a great activity for introducing undergrads to HPC.”