Su­per­com­puter com­pe­ti­tion puts spot­light on China

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE -


The week­long 2015 Asia Stu­dent Su­per­com­puter Chal­lenge closed on May 22 in Taiyuan, cap­i­tal of Shanxi prov­ince.

Ini­ti­ated in 2012 by China’s su­per­com­puter ex­perts and re­search in­sti­tute, and sup­ported by China’s lead­ing su­per­com­puter man­u­fac­turer In­spur Group Co, ASC has be­come one of the largest of its kind, on a par with the United States-based SC and Ger­many-based ISC.

Six­teen teams met in this year’s fi­nal af­ter they qual­i­fied in a pre­lim­i­nary con­test with par­tic­i­pa­tion of 152 col­lege teams from all over the world.

China’s Ts­inghua Uni­ver­sity re­ceived the high­est over­all score and won the cham­pi­onship for the sec­ond time; an­other Chi­nese team, Na­tional Uni­ver­sity of De­fense Tech­nol­ogy, which de­vel­oped the world’s fastest su­per­com­puter, Tianhe-2, or Milky Way-2 in English, seized sec­ond place.

Nanyang Tech­no­log­i­cal Uni­ver­sity from Sin­ga­pore broke the stu­dent world record of HP Lin­pack un­der the 3,000 watts power con­sump­tion, the bench­mark to mea­sure the peak per­for­mance of su­per­com­put­ers.

The fi­nal kicked off with the teams build­ing their own su­per­com­puter clus­ters with cen­tral pro­cess­ing units and graph­ics pro­cess­ing units, which could run cut­ting-edge soft­ware from dif­fer­ent sci­en­tific fields and industrial sec­tors where su­per­com­put­ers are widely used to prothe most in­ten­sive data-pro­cess­ing mod­ule pro­vided by the Square Kilo­me­ter Ar­ray, the world’s largest ra­dio tele­scope, were run on the su­per­com­put­ers.

“I was amazed by the stu­dents’ knowl­edge of su­per­com­put­ers and their team work,” said Pi­eter Chris­ti­aan Broekema, task leader of com­put­ing plat­form from SKA.

WRF-CHEM, weather re­search and fore­cast soft­ware that could be used for in­ves­ti­ga­tion of re­gion­alscale air pol­lu­tion such as tiny par­ti­cles of PM2.5, was in­tro­duced at the fi­nal.

Kurt Keville, a su­per­com­puter team in the fi­nal, said the com­pe­ti­tion is a very good op­por­tu­nity to deepen the stu­dents’ un­der­stand­ing of su­per­com­put­ers.

“The busi­ness is get­ting broader and there are more in­dus­tries you can use su­per­com­put­ers with now,” said Keville, adding that in the fu­ture, su­per­com­put­ers will ben­e­fit hu­mans in many ways.

Scott Wood, 22, a com­puter science ma­jor from Bos­ton Uni­ver­sity, said they have few hard­ware re­sources on US cam­puses, in­stead fo­cus­ing on soft­ware devel­op­ment.

The fi­nal was hosted by the cen­tury-old Taiyuan Uni­ver­sity of Tech­nol-

“We want to make this com­pe­ti­tion a plat­form to in­spire more com­puter science stu­dents to un­der­stand and ma­nip­u­late su­per­com­put­ers to solve real-world prob­lems,” said Liu Jun, gen­eral manager of High-per­for­mance Com­put­ers of In­spur Group.

“Soft­ware in­no­va­tion and tal­ent pool are core com­pet­i­tive sec­tors of su­per­com­puter,” said Liu, adding that China is still be­hind de­vel­oped coun­tries and has to rely on im­port­ing soft­ware.

Brain drain and low uti­liza­tion of su­per­com­put­ers due to high costs are also weak points for China.

Li Kai­wei, a mas­ter com­puter sci­said most of his class­mates choose to go abroad to work.

“I heard one of my class­mates went to work for Google in Switzer­land,” he said. “It is hard to refuse the good salary and en­vi­ron­ment.”

Su­per­com­put­ers re­flect the eco­nomic and tech­no­log­i­cal power of a coun­try. China had fewer than 10 sec­ond most af­ter the US.

Tianhe-2 has been named the fastest su­per­com­puter for the fourth con­sec­u­tive year.

“The data that Tianhe-2 pro­cesses in one hour equals 1.4 bil­lion Chi­nese peo­ple’s use of cal­cu­la­tors for 1,000 years,” said Yuan Xue­feng, direc­tor of Na­tional Su­per­com­puter Cen­ter, in


The US team

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