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Teams of Computer Science Students from around the Globe Prepare for Supercomputing’s Endurance Competition -- SC12 Student Cluster Challenge

A highlight of SC12 will be the grueling 47-hour Cluster Challenge during which teams of students from around the world will compete to build and run a small supercomputer cluster of their own design.

The competition has become a feature attraction of SC, the premier international conference for high performance computing, networking, storage and analysis.

In this intense around-the-clock race, eight teams of up to six students will assemble their cluster in the lobby of the convention center and demonstrate real scientific and industrial applications, while staying within a strict power requirement – roughly equivalent to several coffee makers.

For the first time at SC, competition will be in two tracks: the well-established standard cluster challenge track and a new pilot ‘LittleFe’ track using a LittleFe computer platform available online at

“The Student Cluster Challenge and now the pilot LittleFe competition showcase young supercomputing talent from around the world in a spirited, yet friendly, contest,” says Peter Molnar, chair of the SC12 student competitions. “Besides displaying their creativity and technical skills, these students demonstrate how cluster computing makes high performance computing more accessible to the broader academic and research community.”

Prior to coming to SC teams of students competing in the cluster challenge work with vendor sponsors and institutional advisers to design their computer cluster. At SC they assemble their designs and run a suite of scientific applications chosen by contest organizers.

Teams competing in the cluster challenge this year include: Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center, US; National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan; National University of Defense Technology, China; Purdue University, US; Texas Tech University, US; University of Science and Technology of China, China; University of Texas at Austin, US; and University of the Pacific, US.

Once competition gets underway Monday, Nov. 12, teams will compete to achieve the best high performance computing cluster (HPCC) benchmark performance and maximum throughput of accurate applications runs, all while remaining at or below their energy budget. Teams also compete to impress SC participants and judges with visualizations, presentations, and interviews.

In the new pilot track, teams of students will assemble and test a LittleFe system, a small educational high-performance computing appliance, and then compete to be the first to solve a set of traveling salesman problems. Teams score points for the time their solution is in the lead. Team scores and standing can be monitored in real time on the web.

Competing in this new track will be teams representing: CUNY-College of Staten Island, N.Y.; Skyline High School, Salt Lake, UT; Slippery Rock University, PA; and the University of Utah, UT.

The Student Cluster Competition is part of SC Communities, which brings together programs designed to sup­port emerging leaders and groups that have traditionally been under-represented in computing. This program provides opportunities for students, faculty, early-career professionals, and international attendees to participate in the SC Conference through our Ambassadors, Broader Engagement, Education Program, Student Cluster Competition, and Student Volunteers activities.

For more about the cluster competition see the SC12 Website:

About SC12

SC12, sponsored by the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) and the IEEE Computer Society, offers a complete technical education program and exhibition to showcase the many ways high performance computing, networking, storage and analysis lead to advances in scientific discovery, research, education and commerce. This premier international conference includes a globally attended technical program, workshops, tutorials, a world class exhibit area, demonstrations and opportunities for hands-on learning.

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