University supercomputing teams geared to go viral

November 6, 2013 – Beaverton, Ore. — Gabriel Consulting Group today announced the launch of the first ever Student Cluster Competition (SCC) website: a showcase, information source and forum for teams participating in High Performance Computing (HPC) competitions hosted each year in the United States, Europe and Asia. The URL for this new site is

A student cluster competition is a live face-off between teams of university students who have built their own supercomputers. They’re given real, scientific workloads to run and a power limit they can’t exceed, and the team with the fastest and highest-performing system wins.

For students, these competitions offer hands-on experience, a chance to explore career paths, and even job offers. For any business or consumer impacted by technology – in other words, everyone in the global economy – these competitions are a launchpad for the next generation of great supercomputing minds.

“Airbus uses HPC to drive product innovation and quality,” said Guus Dekkers, Airbus CIO & Corporate CIO EADS. “We believe these student cluster competitions are important because they help develop the expertise of future HPC computer scientists and attract them to our industry. We’re pleased to see that there are now three major events that span the globe and that these competitions are getting more attention from the HPC vendors and user communities.”

SCC competitors build and program their systems using commodity, or widely available, products; this is the kind of computing performed in every facet of business and science today. Google, Amazon, and retailers like Walmart use supercomputers to understand consumer desires and manage logistics. Manufacturers ranging from Airbus to small-town machine shops use supercomputers to design products and manufacture them to incredibly precise specifications.

As HPC evolves and Big Data plays an ever-increasing economic role, the need for supercomputing experts will grow exponentially. Many computer hardware vendors are investing equipment and expertise in these “best and brightest” student teams. Past sponsors have included IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Acer, Mellanox, Inspur, Airbus, Silicon Mechanics, SGI, Cray, Intel, AMD, NVIDIA, Apple and Microsoft.

“Tomorrow’s innovations in the HPC industry are being envisioned today by computer science students around the world,” said Andrew Walsh, director of marketing, Tesla Accelerated Computing Business Unit at NVIDIA. “The Student Cluster Competition site will provide needed visibility into early work that could shape the HPC landscape in the future.”

Past competitors are now playing significant roles in the technology industry and in premiere research institutions.

“The Student Cluster Competition is a great opportunity for students to get exposed to real-life HPC workloads, cluster design, and system administration techniques,” said Dustin Leverman, chairman of the SC13 Student Cluster Competition. “I participated at SC07, and it helped to jump-start my career by introducing me to internship opportunities that eventually led to my hire at Oak Ridge National Laboratory as an HPC systems administrator. One of my main goals with the SCC is to bring talented students from universities all over the world into this massively growing field.”

The new Student Cluster Competition site provides insight, real-time coverage, and results for the three major competitions:

  • The Asia Student Supercomputer Challenge: This newest competition finished its inaugural event, ASC13, April 19 in Shanghai.
  • The Student Cluster Competition: The oldest event, begun in 2007, is held in the United States at the annual Supercomputing Conference. SC13 will take place November 17-22 in Denver, Colo.
  • The Student Cluster Challenge, hosted by the International Supercomputing Conference, concluded its second annual event at ISC’13 in Leipzig, Germany in June.

Competitors in these three 2013 events will represent every continent except Antarctica. Some universities have fielded a team every year while others are first-time entrants.

Although HPC can appear to be a male-dominated field, many SCC teams – including award winners National Tsing Hua University of Taiwan and China’s National University of Defense Technology – have boasted female participants. SC13 will welcome the all-female team from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California in their second appearance at the event.

In addition to event coverage, analysis and results, the new SCC site is a forum for sharing experiences, advice and best practices. In-depth team profiles and video interviews highlight the dedication and enthusiasm of the next generation of HPC leaders.

About Gabriel Consulting Group

Gabriel Consulting Group is a boutique IT consulting organization that provides pragmatic consulting services, in-depth industry analysis, and custom research. Areas of focus include Enterprise computing and data centers, Enterprise analytics/Big Data, High Performance Computing, TCO/ROI, and virtualization.



Dan Olds

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