A team of young students from the University of the Western Cape proved their supercomputing skills when they won the annual Centre for High Power Computing (CHPC) South African Student Cluster Challenge last week (8 December 2016).
The UWC Computer Science department collaborated with the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and rose to the challenge to build the most powerful supercomputer within a designated budget. Using equipment sponsored by Dell, the ten teams from universities across South Africa competed over five days to run scientific computing benchmarks on the high performance computers that they designed and built themselves.
Team members Liam Doult, Tyrone Ruiters, Kyle Jordaan and Mishka Mohammed are all second year B. Sc. Computer Science students. They chose the tongue-in-cheek (but quite accurate) name ‘No Windows’ and set out to fulfil any nerd’s dream of building a super computer.
With dedicated support and advice from their mentor SANBI M.Sc. student Eugene de Beste (assisted by Warren Jacobus, also a Masters student at SANBI), the UWC team overcame all hurdles to emerge victorious.
Things started with a twist: the equipment the students needed arrived late, only being delivered on Tuesday afternoon. After unboxing and setting up the servers the students had to work through the night to deploy their design onto the computer hardware and ensure that the scientific applications they were installing were running optimally.
The Cluster Challenge is designed to give undergraduate students at South African universities exposure to the high power performance computing industry – an industry that’s increasingly crucial to researchers in fields as disparate as astrophysics, molecular biology and even history, where there are complicated operations to perform on often massive datasets.
Over the past few decades, computer clusters (two or more computers connected in such a way that they are able to act as a single computer with way more power) have changed high performance computing, making massive computing power available to research teams with modest budgets and allowing more flexibility and customisability than traditional supercomputers.
The competition ran in the East London International Convention Centre, site of this year’s annual Centre for High Performance Computing conference.
No Windows will go on to represent South Africa at the International Student Cluster Competition in Frankfurt from 19-21 July 2017, where they will compete with the best undergraduate supercomputer creators from around the world.
For more information, pictures and interviews, contact Petunia Thulo at Hippo Communications 021 556 4447 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Port Elizabeth – MyPR.
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