We saw an interesting assortment of gear from the teams competing in the SC13 Student Cluster Competition Standard (Big Iron) Track.
As you can see on the handy table below, the teams had a lot in common on the surface. They all ran some variety of Intel Xeon as their base CPU, most were using Mellanox Infiniband interconnects, and every team had some sort of accelerator or co-processor.
Click on table to enlarge.
You’ll also notice that almost all of the teams went in for accelerators in a big way, festooning their clusters with either eight NVIDIA Keplers or eight Intel Phi co-processors. Team Longhorn (Texas) took what they called a more balanced approach with only four GPU accelerators.
Piling on the accelerators can be somewhat risky. While they add a whole lot more processing power, they can only do so on applications that are optimized to use them efficiently.
The problem for competitors is that SCC rules do not allow teams to power down or physically remove any component after the start of the bout. So if you have an app (or apps) that don’t efficiently use your accelerators, you can’t do much beyond idling them to reduce the drain on your power. And even at idle, having a bunch of these things can really take a chunk out of your 26 amp/115 volt power allowance.
In upcoming stories and video blogs, we’ll take a closer look at each team, their gear, and their rationale for making the decisions they made. We’ll also give you an idea of how the competition proceeded day-by-day and, of course, cover the first Pro-Am Celebrity Cluster Challenge. (Which sucked up a huge amount of my time, since I was the organizer and ultimate arbiter of the Pro-Am. It was fun, but fraught with challenges. Stay tuned for more.)
Posted In: SC13
Tagged: FAU, Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, HPC, iVEC, MGHPCC, National University of Defense Technology, NUDT, SC13, Standard Track, Student Cluster Competition, supercomputing, The University of Tennessee, University of Colorado, University of Texas, University of the Pacific