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Bringing ARM to the Student Cluster Competition

Mont Blanc Climbers Team: Luna Backes, Dani Ruiz, Oriol Vilarrubi, Miquel Vidal, Xavier Yepes, Marc Josep

Mont Blanc Climbers Team: Luna Backes, Dani Ruiz, Oriol Vilarrubi, Miquel Vidal, Xavier Yepes, Marc Josep

Over at the ISC Blog, Luna Backes writes that her Mont-Blanc Climbers Team is looking forward to building the first ARM-based cluster ever at the upcoming ISC 2015 Student Cluster Competition.

While deciding on the hardware for the competition, we considered two options: using a standard commodity HPC hardware configuration or implementing a completely new approach with an ARM-based cluster. Even though the latter is not widely used in HPC, we had two reasons behind our strong enthusiasm for trying a new cluster architecture. Firstly, nowadays the power wall is a big problem in HPC, so we believe that optimizations must be done not only for performance, but also for power efficiency. Secondly, disruptive thinking is needed in HPC to pave the road towards exascale. The decision was made, and we ended up with a double challenge; not only did we apply for the SCC on top of our busy lives, but we did so using an ARM-based cluster for the very first time in this competition. Dangerous choice? We’ll see. Fortunately, our proposal was accepted! And then, the real work started. We organized meetings to distribute the work and help each other with our tasks. Luckily, we are a heterogeneous team, where each of us has expertise in a different area, so we prepared training sessions for the rest of the team to balance our knowledge.

While Luna’s student team is headed into uncharted territory, they are fortunate to have Filippo Mantovani from the Mont-Blanc project as their advisor for the competition.

ISC 2015 takes place July 12-16 in Frankfurt, Germany. You can follow the Mont-Blanc Climbers Team on twitter for updates and come and meet them at booth #422 of the Student Cluster Competition or at the joint European Exascale Projects, at booth #634.

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