Sunday, September 27, 2015

Getting to Know the Student Cluster Competition Teams

From left, the Technische Universität München team is: Michael Zellner, Gregor Matl, Felix Thimm, Daniel Gallenberger, Felix Spaeth, and Sharru Moeller.
The following is an interesting look at one of the nine Student Cluster Competition teams competing in Austin this November. Click here to learn more about some of the other teams.

For what reasons are you studying computer science?
  • The joy of building something new combined with an interest in computers since childhood.
  • Enjoyment in creating new things while using innovative computer systems.
  • Enjoyment in trying to solve problems and a general interest in innovative computer systems.
  • It really influences daily life and most of all, it is fascinating!
In what other events like this have you competed? Was that as a team or individually?  One student has previously competed in the German Federal Competition of Computer Science, which deals with algorithms in a rather theoretical way, and the International Olympics of Informatics (IOI), which also requires the algorithms implementations.

Of those two competitions, he won the first one and became a bronze medalist in the latter. He also competed in the (International Collegiate Programming Contest) ICPC on regional level (as a team) and other programming challenges like the Google Code Jam (Individually, advanced to top 500).
  
What training routine are you following to prepare for this year's SCC15 competition?
We are meeting every other week to discuss our progress with respect to the codes. Furthermore, we have the unique possibility to access the LRZ SuperMIC cluster.

Describe your team's distributed application responsibilities based on experience and interest:
  • My primary role is the RepastHPC (Zombie) code because I have experience with OpenGL and Paraview.
  • I am responsible for Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) and post-processing. WRF because I have a great experience with paraview and blender. My responsibly for WRF evolves from my interest in climatic simulations, which never stops challenging me.
  • I'm mainly focusing on Trinity and Linpack. Further, I am focusing on system administration tasks with a special focus on tuning the overall system for maximum efficiency.
  • My focus is on the MILC and the Trinity applications mainly because I'm interested in those algorithms.
  • I am concentrating on the WRF and MILC codes.  

What have been some challenges preparing for the competition?
  • Getting all of WRFs additional libraries to compile fine with the Intel compiler has proven to be a challenge. We're making progress, though
  • Compiling the library's for the Repast Code with the Intel compiler for the Xeon Phi cluster.
  • Developing the post-processing of the WRF code was quiet challenging. Trying not to give too much away yet, but this could possibly lead us to an advantage in the competition.
  • So far the most challenging assignment is getting the programs to run on the LRZ SuperMIC.
  • Installing all the Trinity plugins on the SuperMIC has been the hardest part up until now, but we now know those plugins structures and dependencies inside and out. 

Describes what has been relatively easy so far:
  • The easiest part was getting the Zombie code running on my laptop. It just worked as described in the ReadMe.
  • I must admit getting WRF to work was easy for there is very detailed documentation online
  • Running the MILC application really was a piece of cake. It just works out of the box.

What architectural details can you share that will put fear into the hearts of your competitors?Our system will have multiple Xeon Phi coprocessor cards per node which will allow us to crunch huge amounts of data with high efficiency, especially with respect to power consumption.

What do you like about mysteries? How are your preparing for the mystery application?It is the unknown people fear most - that is what makes the mystery application the real challenge. Not knowing what preparation is necessary, but believing that we can do it is important. It gives us a chance to demonstrate the knowledge about our machine as well as the flexibility of our team.

We are preparing for the mystery application by trying to make applications from previous years Student Cluster Challenges. Further, we try to find other popular codes with interesting properties or system requirements through HPC-related news and conferences. By doing this, we get more experience in working with unknown applications in general.

Why do you want to win? What are you willing to do to win?Our advisors and sponsors expect us to do our best. We can't let them down! We are prepared for long hours in front of our available HPC systems to be able to utilize our final cluster setup as efficient as possible.

What are you planning to do after the competition is over?A few of us are going to stay in the United States a bit and will get to know Texas! Among other places, the plan is to visit the Houston Space Center. And, besides school, there are many more competitions waiting for us!

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