Students smash competitive clustering LINPACK world record

The kids are all right

HPC Blog Enormous happenings at the ISC17 Student Cluster Competition, where students from the Friedrich-Alexander-Universitat (FAU) broke the student cluster competition world record for HPL (LINPACK).

This gives the home court German team the coveted Highest LINPACK award.

This marks the first time a German team has won a major performance award on their home soil and is likely to result in the declaration of a national holiday featuring parades and a statue raising in their home town of Nuremburg.

Lins Packed to the Max

On the LINPACK benchmark, it was a pretty close grouping between the top five finishers, with FAU grabbing the top slot with a score less than 10 per cent better than second place Purdue/NEU.

Both teams were sporting GPU-heavy systems. Purdue/NEU had two nodes that hosted an eye-popping 16 NVIDIA P100 GPUs, while FAU took a conservative approach with just using 12 P100s in their dual node box. (Yeah, 12 P100s is conservative….lol)

Pre-competition, the FAU team confided to me that they had tested the 16 GPU configuration and found that their results were actually lower than using fewer GPUs. They speculated that 16 GPUs was simply too much for the PCI bus to handle and that the resulting congestion on the bus was what was slowing their results.

Purdue/NEU didn’t have much time with their machine, so they didn’t have the opportunity to test all of the possible configurations, which is probably why they missed out on the FAU discovery.

EPCC was right in there with their "rule of three" cluster – three nodes, nine GPUs, plus liquid cooling. I would have liked to see them take advantage of their liquid cooling by overclocking their GPUs. I think that would have made the difference between their third place finish and grabbing the LINPACK trophy. But what the hell do I know? I’ve never built a cluster.

Every one of the top four teams beat the existing HPL record of 30.71, established at the ASC17 competition in Wuxi. Nanyang just barely finished below that mark.

Historically, here’s how the LINPACK numbers look in context:

As you can see, scores took a huge leap at SC16 when NVIDIA P100 GPUs came onto the scene. We saw another small improvement at ASC17, but then another largish jump at ISC17.

I’m not sure why we saw such a big bump this time around, but I think it has something to do with the form factors that the winning teams were using. Eight GPUs on a single node allows the GPUs to communicate much more effectively with each other and the host processors vs. having eight GPUs on four different nodes.

The students at ISC17 have also broken the student HPCG record, so stay tuned…

Other stories you might like

  • Boeing's Starliner capsule corroded due to high humidity levels, NASA explains, and the spaceship won't fly this year

    Meanwhile Elon's running orbital tourist trips and ISS crew missions

    Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner capsule, designed to carry astronauts to and from the International Space Station, will not fly until the first half of next year at the earliest, as the manufacturing giant continues to tackle an issue with the spacecraft’s valves.

    Things have not gone smoothly for Boeing. Its Starliner program has suffered numerous setbacks and delays. Just in August, a second unmanned test flight was scrapped after 13 of 24 valves in the spacecraft’s propulsion system jammed. In a briefing this week, Michelle Parker, chief engineer of space and launch at Boeing, shed more light on the errant components.

    Boeing believes the valves malfunctioned due to weather issues, we were told. Florida, home to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center where the Starliner is being assembled and tested, is known for hot, humid summers. Parker explained that the chemicals from the spacecraft’s oxidizer reacted with water condensation inside the valves to form nitric acid. The acidity corroded the valves, causing them to stick.

    Continue reading
  • Research finds consumer-grade IoT devices showing up... on corporate networks

    Considering the slack security of such kit, it's a perfect storm

    Increasing numbers of "non-business" Internet of Things devices are showing up inside corporate networks, Palo Alto Networks has warned, saying that smart lightbulbs and internet-connected pet feeders may not feature in organisations' threat models.

    According to Greg Day, VP and CSO EMEA of the US-based enterprise networking firm: "When you consider that the security controls in consumer IoT devices are minimal, so as not to increase the price, the lack of visibility coupled with increased remote working could lead to serious cybersecurity incidents."

    The company surveyed 1,900 IT decision-makers across 18 countries including the UK, US, Germany, the Netherlands and Australia, finding that just over three quarters (78 per cent) of them reported an increase in non-business IoT devices connected to their org's networks.

    Continue reading
  • Huawei appears to have quenched its thirst for power in favour of more efficient 5G

    Never mind the performance, man, think of the planet

    MBB Forum 2021 The "G" in 5G stands for Green, if the hours of keynotes at the Mobile Broadband Forum in Dubai are to be believed.

    Run by Huawei, the forum was a mixture of in-person event and talking heads over occasionally grainy video and kicked off with an admission by Ken Hu, rotating chairman of the Shenzhen-based electronics giant, that the adoption of 5G – with its promise of faster speeds, higher bandwidth and lower latency – was still quite low for some applications.

    Despite the dream five years ago, that the tech would link up everything, "we have not connected all things," Hu said.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021