A Field Guide to the Student Cluster Competition Triple Crown

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Over at the Student Cluster Competition Blog, Dan Olds has compiled a Field Guide to the Worldwide Triple Crown of cluster challenges.


There’s no limit on how much gear, or what type of hardware, teams can bring to the competition. But there’s a catch: whatever they run can’t consume more than 3,000 watts at whatever volts and amps are customary in that location. In the US, the limit is 26 amps (26*115 volts = 3000 watts.) At the ISC’13 competition in Germany, the limit will be 13 amps (13*230 volts = 3,000 watts.) The same 3,000-watt limit also applies to the upcoming ASC competition in Shanghai. This is the power limit for their compute nodes, file servers, switches, storage and everything else with the exception of PCs monitoring the system power usage. There aren’t any loopholes to exploit, either – the entire system must remain powered on and operational during the entire three-day competition. This means that students can’t use hibernation or suspension modes to power down parts of the cluster to reduce electric load. They can modify BIOS settings before the competition begins but typically aren’t allowed to make any mods after kickoff. In fact, reboots are allowed only if the system fails or hangs up.

top student linpack

The next competition coming up is the ASC14 Challenge in Asia this April, with 78 teams already enrolled.