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National Tsing Hua University wins the TSCC 2014 Championship!

2014/05/19

The National Center for High-performance Computing (NCHC) hosted the Taiwan Student Cluster Competition 2014 (TSCC 2014) on May 14th and 15th, 2014. During 9.5 hours of intense competition, the 11 teams that made it to the final round of the competition had all completed their cluster computer assembly, optimized their hardware performance, and solved application problems using their self-built computer clusters. When the time was up, the team from National Tsing Hua University, “NTHU-β,” was crowned champion! 

National Tsing Hua University’s “Team Shizuka,” which came in close second, had just received notice of their acceptance into the Student Cluster Competition (SCC) to be held in New Orleans, LA, this coming November. Any team may sign up to participate in SCC, but only ten teams were accepted this year and “Team Shizuka” was the only team accepted from Taiwan.

TSCC 2014, modeled after the world-class SCC competition, tests students’ ability to set up computer clusters, including hardware assembling, operating system installation, computer cluster performance optimization, and, lastly, problem solving. The purpose of the TSCC competition is to provoke students’ interest and passion in high-performance computing (HPC), cultivate new talent capable of using supercomputers to solve real-world problems, and to inject new energy into Taiwan’s HPC applications and development fields.

This year, 17 teams from domestic universities submitted their applications to compete in TSCC 2014-- the largest number of teams ever to participate in the event. After the first round, 11 teams made it into the final round, including two teams from National Tsing Hua University, two teams from National Cheng Kung University, two teams from Tunghai University, and one team each from National Chiao Tung University, National Taichung University of Education, National University of Tainan, National Taipei University, and the Affiliated Senior High School of National Taiwan Normal University, the first high school contestants to enter the TSCC competition. They were selected as observers.

The NCHC provided its Sun Cluster computing servers and GPU accelerators for the competition. The software used for evaluating problem solving performance, High-performance Linpack (HPL), is used to evaluate the performance of the world’s top 500 supercomputers and is currently the most mature system for rating floating point processing performance. The other two types of application software used during the competition were LAMMPS and OpenFOAM, both of which are well used in the fields of molecular simulation and computational fluid dynamics. For the problem-solving part of the competition, and in order to instill a local “flavor” into the competition, the forces pertaining to Taiwan’s Dajia River and its hydraulic facilities were chosen as the subject for the students to analyze.

This year’s competition was exceptionally close with the top three teams’ results coming in extremely close to one another. The two teams from National Tsing Hua University, “NTHU-β” and “Team Shizuka,” placed first and second, while Tunghai University’s “NMG x CC x THU” placed third. “NMG x CC x THU” scored the highest in “performance optimization” by achieving 93%, thus, reaching international levels and setting a new record for the TSCC competition! The younger observers representing the Affiliated Senior High School of National Taiwan Normal University also successfully completed the challenges as well. 

TSCC 2014 Convener, Dr. Hsi-Ya Chang, said, “The TSCC has been held for four years now, and the number of teams has grown substantially each year since its inception while, at the same time, the age of the participants has gradually decreased.  This serves to illustrate that a solid foundation is being laid for the further cultivation and development of Taiwan’s HPC talents. In the future, we hope to continue cultivating new talent via this competition and, accordingly, upgrade Taiwan’s HPC capabilities to reach world-class standards.”

About TSCC:
A computer cluster is comprised of a set of individual computers that are linked together via a high speed network to achieve the highest possible overall performance using tuning technology. 2014 is the fourth year that the NCHC has organized and hosted the TSCC competition. The TSCC competition is modeled after the SCC competition which is held annually at the Supercomputing Conference (SCXX). The TSCC competition was established primarily to encourage Taiwanese students to take part in the field of HPC. The first TSCC, held in 2011, fostered students’ ability to build HPC clusters including hardware, operating system installation, and performance optimization. In 2012, application problem solving aspect became a part of competition. Problems directly related to Taiwan, such as typhoon and flood disaster mitigation, are chosen for analysis so that students can gain practical experience solving the real-life issues that affect them and the environment they live in. The TSCC also serves as a warm-up for teams to participate in the international SCC competition.

The TSCC 2014 winning teams:

the photo of the champion
―1st place: National Tsing Hua University’s “NTHU-β”

the photo of the second place team
―2nd place: National Tsing Hua University’s “Team_Shizuka”

the photo of the third place team
―3rd place: Tunghai University’s “NMG x CC x THU”

 
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