IIT Team Among Winners of 48-Hour Student Cluster Competition

An IIT team won part of the SC14 Student Cluster Competition, a real-time, non-stop, 48-hour challenge in which they ran high-performance applications/benchmarks on a cluster computer built with sponsors including Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), Intel, NVIDIA, and Mellanox. The competition was held during the IEEE/ACM Supercomputing/SC Conference in New Orleans in November. IIT’s was one of 12 teams selected to take part; others were from China, Germany, Taiwan, Australia, Singapore, and the United States.

In the competition, undergraduate and/or high school students assemble a small cluster on the SC14 exhibit floor and race to demonstrate the greatest sustained performance across a series of applications. Teams of six students partner with vendors to design and build a cutting-edge cluster from commercially available components that does not exceed a 3120-watt power limit (26-amp at 120-volt), and work with application experts to tune and run the competition codes.

IIT’s team ran five high-performance applications/benchmarks (Linpack/HPCC, NAMD, ADCIRC, Matlab, and Enzo) over a 48-hour period. They built and configured the eight-node cluster valued at more than $250,000 with the help of their sponsors. The team achieved the highest unmodified HPL (high-performance linpack) benchmark (the de-facto benchmark in high-performance computing) as part of HPCC using 216-cores (Intel Xeon E5-2699 v3) over six-nodes and a dual-rail 56Gb/sec Infiniband network interconnect.

Led by team captain Kevin Brandstaratter (BS/M.S. CS 4th year), the team included Jason DiBabbo (CS 4th year), Daniel Gordon (CS 4th Year), Ben Walters (CS 2nd year), Alexander Ballmer (CS 1st year), and Lauren Ribordy, a high school senior at Glenbrook South High School in Glenview, Ill. Ioan Raicu, assistant professor of computer science and a guest research faculty at ANL, coached the team.

Other students and staff who helped in the preparation for the competition included William Scullin and Ben Allen (ANL); first-year computer science students Cosmin Lungu, Andrei Dumitru, and Adnan Haider; and computer science Ph.D. students Dongfang Zhao, Tonglin Li, Ke Wang, and Scott Krieder.

“The students worked really hard from June to November 2014, investing over 2,500 collective hours in preparing and participating in this competition on the world stage,” Raicu said. “I congratulate our team for a job well done!”

More information plus pictures and videos are at Raicu’s website.

Lauren Ribordy (Glenbrook South High-school), William Scullin (Argonne), Kevin Brandstatter (IIT 4th year BS/MS), Jason DiBabbo (IIT 4th year BS), Daniel Gordon (IIT 4th year BS), Ben Walters (IIT 2nd year BS), Alex Ballmer (IIT 1st year BS), Ioan Raicu (IIT assistant professor), and Michael Papka (Argonne).

Lauren Ribordy (Glenbrook South High School), William Scullin (Argonne), Kevin Brandstatter (IIT 4th year BS/MS), Jason DiBabbo (IIT 4th year BS), Daniel Gordon (IIT 4th year BS), Ben Walters (IIT 2nd year BS), Alex Ballmer (IIT 1st year BS), Ioan Raicu (IIT assistant professor), and Michael Papka (Argonne).