Illinois Tech Places Fourth in International 48-Hour Supercomputing Competition

A team of computer science undergraduates, plus area high school students, fielded by Illinois Tech won fourth place in an international supercomputing competition for students. The competition was held during the IEEE/ACM Supercomputing/SC Conference 2015 in New Orleans, attended by more than 13,000 people.

Other teams were from Tsinghua University in China (first place), Technical University of Munich, Arizona Research Computing, National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan, Northeastern University in Boston, Pawsey Supercomputing Centre in Australia, Universidad EAFIT in Colombia, and the University of Oklahoma.

For 48 hours straight, the Illinois Tech team ran five applications on the five-node, $250,000 computer cluster they designed and built from commercial hardware.

It had four Intel Xeon CPUs with 16-cores at 2.5GHz each, 1.7TB Intel NVMe PCle SSD, 512GB of DDR4 RAM per node, and quad port 100Gb/s full-duplex EDR Infiniband network, which all fit within the 3120 watt power budget limit.

This year’s applications were MILC, Repast HPC, Trinity, WRF, Linpack, as well as a mystery app revealed before the competition, HPCG.

The students got into the competition through a competitive proposal and review. Argonne National Laboratory and Intel Corporation provided technical and financial support through the 10 months that the team trained.

They improved their standing over last year (ninth) and were virtually tied for third place.

The Illinois Tech team included:

  • Ben Walters (CS 3rd year), team captain, system administrator, and the WRF application
  • Alexander Ballmer (CS 2nd year), system administration and the HPC Repast application
  • Adnan Haider (CS 2nd year), the Trinity application and the parallel filesystem
  • Andrei Dumitru (CS 2nd year), the MILC application
  • Calin Segarceau (CS 1st year), the Linpack and HPCG benchmarks, and backup duties system administration
  • Keshav Kapoor, 11th grade student at Naperville Central High School. He focused on system resource monitoring and scientific visualization
  • Ioan Raicu, assistant professor of computer science and guest research faculty at MCS and Argonne, team coach

Other students and staff who helped in the preparation of the competition included William Scullin and Ben Allen, HPC systems administration specialists in the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility at Argonne National Laboratory. Gina Griza, a senior at Glenbrook South High School in Glenview, Ill., helped to prepare for the competition and assisted with visualizations. Alumnus Kevin Brandstatter (CS ’15), now employed by Epic Systems, provided mentoring and support throughout competition preparation.