Supercomputer competition puts spotlight on China
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