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SC'13 - Student Cluster Competition

The Student Cluster Competition at the annual SC (Supercomputing) Conference challenges rival teams of university undergraduates in a 72-hour-battle to prove that they can design, build, optimize and run the fastest and most efficient cluster computing system within the given power budget. In this real-time, non-stop competition, teams of six students assemble their clusters on the exhibit floor, live on pizza and little sleep, and race to demonstrate the greatest sustained performance across a series of applications and scientific workloads.

The University of Texas team members are:

  • Eric Dawson
  • Jim Given
  • Reid McKenzie
  • Julian Michael
  • Suvamsh Shivaprasad
  • Zachary Tschirhart

The team was coached by Rosales-Fernandez, John Cazes and John Lockman of TACC, and two of last year's team members served as student advisors: Michael Teng and Andrew Wiley.

The teams work with company sponsors several months in advance to design and build a cutting-edge system from commercially available components. This year, Team Texas and TACC partnered with Dell, Intel, Mellanox, and Nvidia.

The company sponsors provide the hardware and travel funds, while the TACC coaches worked side by side with the students to teach them the fundamentals of cluster construction, systems administration, and program optimization.

HPCC benchmark scores, results from the scientific applications, and interviews with judges were weighted to determine each team's final score. Teams were also judged on the presentation of their system, the quality and precision of their results, and interviews with contest judges, who assessed how well the students understood their systems and workloads.

TACC and its industry partners have sponsored student teams in the competition since 2010 when The University of Texas team received the highest Linpack score and was the first team in the competition's history to submit a Linpack score higher than a teraflop. In 2011, The University of Texas team built an energy-saving cluster that was submerged in mineral oil, which had the highest Linpack score among CPU-only teams. Last year, the team took first place in the overall standings, breaking Team Taiwan's (National Tsing Hua University) two-year winning streak.

Music by Kevin MacLeod / Produced by Sean Cunningham

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