Congratulations to the South African students who won their second ISC14 Student Supercomputing Competition! In 2013 the South African students were considered the underdog due to their youth and lack of competitive experience. This year the team from the South African Centre for High Performance Computing won the overall 2014 competition. To win, students have to build a computer cluster, or supercomputer that stays within a defined cash and power budget. Further, the winning student team must achieve the highest aggregate score across a suite of benchmarks, and perform well in an interview by the competition judges.
(Author’s note: this article has been corrected based on information provided by Eugene de Beste, a participant on the South African team, from an earlier version that incorrectly attributed the 10.14 TF/s linpack result to South Africa. Apologies to the UK team and thank you to Eugene for the correction!)
This was a quite a competition as the UK student team achieved a record 10.14 TF/s on a Tesla K40 GPU-powered system — the first time any student cluster team has hit this mark within the competition’s three-kilowatt power budget. The previous record of 9.27 teraflops was hit just a few months ago by China’s Sun Yat-sen University at the Asia student competition, ASC14, also with GPU accelerators.
The other teams that participated in the ISC14 competition came from South Korea, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Edinburgh, University of Hamburg, and three universities in China.
South African team members:
- Eugene de Beste – University of the Western Cape
- Nicole Thomas – University of the Western Cape
- Saeed Natha – University of the Western Cape
- Warren Jacobus – University of the Western Cape
- Pieter Malan – University of Stellenbosch
- Ellen Nxala – University of Fort Hare
- David Macleod – CHPC
- Vernon Nichols – DELL
- Nicholas Thorne – CHPC
For further information, listen to the podcast by 567 CapeTalk’s Kieno Kammies as he spoke with Dr Happy Sithole, Director at the Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC) and David Macleod, Student Cluster Competition Project Manager and Senior Engineer for the CHPC.