The ISC Student Cluster Challenge was initiated in 2012. The goal of the competition is to assemble a computer system from hardware and software components and configure it in a way that enables set problems to be resolved in the fastest time possible.
"Some of the applications, such as those used in the fields of biochemistry, quantum mechanics or weather forecasting, are already known to the teams in advance. Others are still a secret and will only be revealed at the ISC", stated Nico Mittenzwey, HPC engineer at Megware. The event will therefore be a kind of real-time challenge at the trade fair. The rules state that the teams must ensure that the supercomputer constructed may not exceed an electricity consumption of 3 kilowatts at any time - 3 kilowatts corresponds approximately to the amount of energy used by three standard coffee makers. The objective, then, is to optimise performance and electricity consumption.
A total of nine teams are taking part in the competition. The opponents are international - participants from South Africa, China, the USA, Costa Rica, Great Britain and Germany have qualified for the event. The Chemnitz team goes by the name "TurboTUC" and comprises six students from Chemnitz University of Technology. Aged between 22 and 25, they study IT and science subjects.
"The challenge for us is firstly to create high-performance hardware and then use the right components", stated team member Sebastian Siegert. "In addition, we will only find out about part of the applications at the fair itself - then the task will be to discover whether - and how well - we can adapt these with our supercomputer in order to solve the problem as quickly and with the greatest energy efficiency as possible", added Henrik Kretzschmar.
The TurboTUC is assisted by the supercomputer manufacturer Megware. "We are delighted that a team of students interested in HPC has come together at Chemnitz University to compete in this international contest", stated Jana Mitschke, responsible for marketing at Megware. "The students are highly motivated and have already gained experience in parallel programming and the design and analysis of parallel applications. We support them with ultra-modern, high-performance hardware and provide assistance when questions arise."
The proximity to the supercomputing manufacturer and its involvement are much appreciated by the university: "The co-operation with the HPC specialists at Megware has enabled us to receive competitive hardware as well as key information regarding the options offered by the latest supercomputing technology, which is a boost to the Chemnitz team", stated Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Rehm of the Professorship for Computer Architecture at Chemnitz University of Technology. "Young students are consequently involved in practical projects prior to completing their Bachelor studies and are able to establish their first contacts with IT companies."
The task is by no means an easy one, especially as some of the teams are already competing for the second time and already have experience in the competition. In China the large amount of interest even led to a qualifying round being held, in which only the best of a total of 32 teams qualified for this year's competition. It is set to be a thrilling finale.