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RCE Cast: SC10 Student cluster competition

January 30, 2010
at 12:00 pm PST

We recorded an RCE podcast earlier today talking to Tiki L. Suarez-Brown, Ph.D, and Hai Ah Nam, Ph.D, the two co-chairs of the SC10 student cluster competition, and Doug Smith, the faculty sponsor of the Colorado cluster competition team from the past few years. Scheduling to get everyone together for the recording was a bit dicey; the recording will likely be available a little later than usual (Brock usually releases recordings on Saturdays — this one will likely be out early next week).

The competition is no cake walk: teams of students get a very specific power budget (26 amps) to run a whole schlew of real-world HPC applications within a limited time frame.  The teams are graded on several metrics, to include the highest Linpak number, most computational work processed in the time allotted, a question-and-answer interview, etc. 

Fun fact: 26 amps is about how much you need to run 3 coffee makers.

In short, the competition is a grueling, complicated, high-pressure assignment, set across the backdrop of the SC show floor. I believe my favorite quote from the podcast is from Hai An, who said “We’re evil!” when describing the difficulty of problem sets that they design for the contest.  Gotta love it!

The contest is an excellent opportunity for students to learn a huge range of skills, spanning from theoretical computational models to practical software engineering and administration.  Their exposure to the HPC community (and the HPC community’s exposure to them!) is also fantastic — imagine being an undergrad and getting to rub shoulders with some of the world’s most learned and respected computing dignitaries.  Pretty cool stuff! (ok, yes, I’m a geek, but it’s still cool stuff).

Anyhoo — the podcast will be out in a few days.  Enjoy!

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