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2020 Asia Student Cluster Competition Kick-Off

The ASC Student Supercomputer Challenge 2020 (ASC20) officially kicked off its event at SC19 in Denver, announcing the location and timeline for the upcoming event.

The locale for the finals is a new one, Southern University of Science & Technology, located in Shenzhen, China. SUST is one of China’s newest universities, opening in 2011, and it currently has just over 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students. It’s an experimental pilot university that aims to help reform higher education in China and is modeled on world-class science and technology universities. SUST is no stranger to cluster competitions, having fielded a team that made it to the finals last year at ASC19 in Dalian, China.

The ASC cluster competition is the biggest in the world with 20 university teams of undergraduate students competing to build the most powerful cluster while keeping power consumption under 3,000 watts. Inspur provides servers to the competitors who then configure their own cluster designs, put them together, and then optimize them and tune the benchmarking and HPC/AI applications for maximum performance.

This is always one of the most difficult competitions on the schedule. In past competitions, students were tasked with optimizing applications for voice recognition, traffic prediction, cryo-electron microscopy technology, and natural-language reading comprehension, to name a few. In addition to this, students have had the opportunity to run code on the largest supercomputers in the world at recent ASC events.

More than 300 teams annually apply for a chance to make it to the ASC finals, which makes it the most popular competition in the world.

ASC competitions are demanding and exciting, particularly for teams from the west, as they get the chance to travel to China and compete against some of the strongest Student Cluster Competition teams in the world. It’s the only cluster competition with cash prizes too, there is a total of $40,000 at stake for winning, second place, LINPACK Award, and other teams who do well.

“At SC19, Dr. Wang showed a video about the host university, SUSTech, and then handed the microphone off to a student from Germany’s Friedrich Alexander University who discussed what it was like to compete at ASC19. The final speaker was Dan Olds, the historian of Student Cluster Competitions, who talked about how the competitions work, why ASC is important, and also related some interesting stats and anecdotes.”

Want to Compete? Time to Get Moving!

Registration and qualifying for ASC20 is now open and the competition committee is accepting applications from now until January 5th, 2020. If you’re interested in fielding a team, get your application in now. You can find everything you need at the ASC site.

The preliminary competition will be held from January 6th to February 28th. This is where the student teams prove that they have what it takes to compete in the finals by completing and submitting benchmark scores, optimized source code, output files, plus a proposal that discusses their team and approach to the competition.

The finals will feature the 20 best teams from the preliminary bout and will be held in Shenzhen, China starting on April 25th and running through April 29th, 2020. It promises to be a tough competition, as usual, but also a rewarding one, with teams learning much more than they would in a classroom.

I highly encourage western based teams to compete in the ASC2020 competition. I’ve been there for many competitions and can vouch for the hospitality you’ll receive from your Chinese hosts. Teams are provided with translators and encouraged to get out of the competition and experience the local sights and culture. It’s an experience of a lifetime. See you in Shenzhen!

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