As many of you Student Cluster Competition fanatics know by now, Taiwan’s National Tsing Hua University (NTHU) won the gold medal at the recently concluded ASC19 cluster competition in Dalian, China.
From a scoring standpoint, CESM was a nightmare application that wrecked some dreams of student cluster competition glory. However, a few teams were able to tame CESM and ride it, giving them a vehicle to take them from mid-pack player to real contender.
Sun Yat-Sen took down the rest of the field by a wide margin on CESM, with Shanghai Jaio Tong pulling down second place. Tsinghua strengthened their championship hopes by grabbing third place while NTHU had to make do with a distant fourth. Beihang stumbled on CESM and it nearly took them out of the race for the top slot.
ASC19 Day Two
Going into day two, there were four teams vying for the lead: NTHU, Tsinghua, Sun Yat-Sen, and Beihang. These teams were in control of their own destinies. Other teams still had a chance for an upset victory, but they had to rely on the top teams making mistakes or being off their game.
Faces SR was the next application up for the student teams. This is the app where the students are presented with blurred faces and have to use AI and other tools to get the highest resolution possible in the shortest amount of time.
ShengBTE, an application used for solving the hugely popular Boltzmann Transport Equation, was the mystery app at ASC19. SUSTech threw down a big 100 percent score and vaulted themselves up a few spots while Sun Yat-Sen mounted a valiant charge with their score of 96.6 percent — but would it be enough to get them on the podium? NTHU and Tsinghua remained deadlocked with their scores of 70.97 percent and 68.13 percent.
With only the interview to go, NTHU was holding onto a vanishingly thin margin over Tsinghua, with Sun Yat-Sen and Beihang still banging on the door.
ASC19 Day Three
The ASC19 interview room is a scary place. Students are confronted by genuine HPC experts, including some of the biggest names in the game. The teams have to put on a short presentation and then brace themselves for the questioning that is sure to follow.
Yes, they could. By the slenderest of margins, NTHU took home the championship, topping arch-rival Tsinghua by just over a percentage point. Sun Yat-Sen University took home the Bronze Medal with their overall score of 70.99 percent. Beihang took fourth and newcomer Jinan turned in a fifth-place final score.
With their first-place finish, NTHU gets their ticket punched for the ISC19 finals which will take place in Frankfurt, Germany, next month. Tsinghua was already invited to this important event, so they receive a bye into the ISC competition. This means that third-place finisher Sun Yat-Sen will take the second ISC slot reserved for the ASC winners and make the trip to Germany.
E-Prize & Application Innovation
Sun Yat-Sen University took home the prestigious E-Prize for their outstanding performance on the troublesome CESM application. As we saw above, Sun Yat-Sen topped the 20 team field by a wide margin on this application.
Jinan University earned one of the two Application Innovation awards, which is an impressive accomplishment in their first competition. There was another first as well – EAFIT also earned an Application Innovation Award, their first major award. SUSTech was the third Application Innovation award winner, good job to all three teams.
So What Have We Learned?
There are several takeaways from this ASC19 cluster competition event. The first is that it is totally AWESOME to hold a cluster competition in a real stadium. There’s plenty of room, great heat dispersion, and massive scoreboards for the power meters.
The second thing we’ve learned is that CESM is a either a horrible application (if you’re a student) or a great test of student optimizing abilities (if you’re a judge).
The results from ASC19 also reinforce something that I’ve been telling every cluster competition team: you don’t have to win every benchmark and application to become the champion – but you do have to turn in a result for every application.
NTHU won the HPCG benchmark and WTDBG2 application outright, but only finished in the top handful of teams on the other tasks. Tsinghua, the second-place winner, didn’t win any of the benchmarks or tasks, but they turned in competitive results on every challenge. That’s the key to being competitive in these events – consistent performance.
I would be remiss if I didn’t recognize Inspur for sponsoring yet again another fantastic ASC Student Cluster Competition. Inspur is the only vendor to put on an entire competition on their own, providing all of the equipment, facilities, translators, and other support for 20 teams — which is probably close to 150 people. A sincere thank you to Inspur, plus the legion of volunteers from Dalian University, for putting on the competition, making it a great experience for the student teams and easy for me to cover.
The next big event on the Student Cluster Competition calendar is the ISC19 competition, which kicks off in the middle of June. You’ll see many of these ASC19 teams competing at this tourney and we’ll be covering it with our typical OCD depth and breadth. I hope this coverage has converted some of you to Student Cluster Competition fans and supporters. If not, try harder, ok?