Students from FAU have previously participated in SCC challenges such as the ones held at the largest European gathering of the high-performance computing (HPC) community, the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC), which takes place in Germany each year. For the past two years, FAU teams were able to come out of these competitions winning the coveted high-performance LINPACK Benchmark challenge.
"As of this year, the chair of computer architecture at FAU provides a special hands-on and lecture series that is dedicated to preparing a team for the SCC", explained Johannes Hofmann, a researcher at FAU's chair of computer architecture and deFAUlt's team advisor. "Students enrolled in this course receive a credit for their respective degree course, thus students will not only benefit from the opportunity to participate in the SCC, but make progress in their undergraduate degrees. This concept does indeed pay off, as the course is steadily gaining popularity. Due to popular demand, we even had to implement a screening process to determine potential candidates for this year's SCC team", added Johannes Hofmann.
None of the students comprising team deFAUlt has ever attended a student cluster competition before and they view their participation in the SCC as a unique opportunity to use the skills and theoretical knowledge acquired in different lectures and apply them to a real system. With the majority of the team members studying computer science (CS), the individuals' fields of interests and expertise span a broad range of scientific disciplines, including mathematics, astronomy, computational engineering and industrial electronics. Thus, the students see themselves well prepared for the real-world scientific workloads awaiting them in the 48-hour, non-stop challenge held on the SC18 showground.
For GCS, which is supporting team deFAUlt by co-financing its travel to the event, it is rewarding to see its sponsorship activities being well received. "FAU certainly does the right thing in offering a course tailored to get students prepared for contests such as the SCC. This appeals to young HPC talent, and the prospect of participating in international events for sure is an additional motivating factor", stated Dr. Claus-Axel Müller, managing director of GCS. "For students, the subject of expenses is very often a 'knock-out criteria', especially when it comes to international travel, thus we are happy to help out. We wish team deFAUlt lots of success and lots of fun at SC18. We are confident that in any case it will be an invaluable experience for each of the students."