As the twelve Student Cluster teams race to the finish line, we can track their all-important power stats here.
How important is all-important, you ask? From our “About” page:
There’s no limit on how much gear, or what type of hardware, teams can bring to the competition. But there’s a catch: whatever they run can’t consume more than 3,000 watts at whatever volts and amps are customary in that location. In the US, the limit is 26 amps (26*115 volts = 3000 watts.) At the ISC’13 competition in Germany, the limit will be 13 amps (13*230 volts = 3,000 watts.) The same 3,000-watt limit also applies to the upcoming ASC competition in Shanghai.
This is the power limit for their compute nodes, file servers, switches, storage and everything else with the exception of PCs monitoring the system power usage. There aren’t any loopholes to exploit, either – the entire system must remain powered on and operational during the entire three-day competition. This means that students can’t use hibernation or suspension modes to power down parts of the cluster to reduce electric load. They can modify BIOS settings before the competition begins but typically aren’t allowed to make any mods after kickoff. In fact, reboots are allowed only if the system fails or hangs up.
Each system is attached to a PDU (Power Distribution Unit) that will track second-by-second power usage. When teams go over the power limit, they’ll be alerted by the PDU – as will the competition managers. Going over the limit will result in a warning to the team and possible point deduction. According to the HPAC-ISC Student Cluster Challenge FAQ, “if power consumption gets well beyond the 13A limit, Bad Things™ will happen…” meaning that the team will trip a circuit breaker and lose lots of time rebooting and recovering their jobs.