25 May 2021 – High performance computingGo Heidelbears! Heidelberg students take part in the ISC Student Cluster Competition

This will be the fourth time that a student team from Heidelberg University has taken part in the ISC Student Cluster Competition. The Student Cluster Competition (SCC) is an annual international competition that brings students together from around the world to compete in the field of high performance computing.

The Heidelberg team, known as the “Heidelbears,” is the only team from Germany participating in this year's competition. They are supported and supervised by the University Computing Centre's HPC experts. The team is sponsored by the Gauss Centre for Supercomputing e.V. (GCS), which has also sponsored the German SCC teams in previous years.

This year's competition, as last year's, will be held as an online event in which students will have to tackle various HPC challenges with the help of the high performance computers provided to them for the event. For instance, practical applications for the life sciences and education will be tested and optimized: Which hardware combination and configuration will run tools like WRF, MetaHipMer, GPAW, LAMMPS the fastest? Which compiler will produce the best results? For this competition, supercomputers from the National Supercomputing Center (NSCC) in Singapore and the University of Toronto have been provided for these tasks.

Over several weeks, from May 24 to June 18, 2021, students will be able to work on the tasks and fine-tune their results and the associated presentations. On 1 July 2021, the winner of the competition will be announced.

“The primarily digital preparation for the competition was a challenge,” explains Aksel Alpay from the URZ service area Future IT - Research & Education, who together with his colleague Alexander Haller assumed responsibility for coaching the team this year. “But through intensive virtual communication and close collaboration, a great team spirit has developed as a result. We are all very motivated and looking forward to the challenge!”

The Student Cluster Competition is part of ISC High Performance, which is one of the world's largest exhibition and conference events for high-performance computing and is also being held digitally this year. The competition is jointly organized by the ISC Group and HPC-AI Advisory Council.

The Team

SCC2021_Maximilian Jalea

Growing up I always had a lot to do with computers, tweaking them to the point where they do the things I want most efficiently. I have already gained a lot of knowledge in the field of numerical analysis and mathematical optimization, and could not miss out on the chance to gain some in-depth, hands-on experiences on HPC as part of a great team.

Maximilian Jalea, M. Sc. Scientific Computing

SCC_Falk Loewner

Learning how to manage an HPC cluster as well as tuning massively parallel applications presents me not only with the prospect of picking up valuable knowledge along the way. From my experience at the previous Student Cluster Competition, it also leads to getting to know fascinating people from all over the world and, moreover, to having a thrill-ride and lots of fun along the way of our team making the first place in the competition!

Falk Loewner, B.Sc. Physics & Mathematics

SCC_Henrik Reinstädtler

At university, numerics caught my attention and I wrote my bachelor’s thesis about the application of spacetime multigrid methods to parabolic problems which I implemented using DUNE. Solving huge linear systems is possible by this method, but still requires sufficient computational power. This is the reason why I want to take part in the competition and gain some real world experience with high performance computers.

Henrik Reinstädtler, M.Sc. Scientific Computing

SCC2021_Sanchi Vaishnavi

My interests lie in optimizing computer performance for varied applications. I am primarily interested in problems that pose time complexity constraints on the systems. There are many questions which are not yet answerable by computers in ’finite’ time due to limitations on either compute time or energy requirements. Therefore, maximizing compute power while still minimizing the energy required is one of the ways forward for supercomputing applications. Through the SCC 2021, it is my hope to contribute to our team in demonstrating our approach to design such a cluster.

Sanchi Vaishnavi, M.Sc. Scientific Computing

SCC2021_Susanne de Vasconcelos Barros Malheiros

Taking part twice in the Student Cluster Competitions in 2018 and 2019 sparked my interest in the world of High Performance Computing. […] The competition is a great opportunity to apply and broaden the knowledge and experience I gained and I am excited about putting together a small cluster and optimizing its performance for familiar and new benchmarks again. Moreover, I am really looking forward to work alongside a highly motivated team, meet like-minded students from all over the world, and enjoy a memorable conference – be it live or online. As the saying goes: All good things come in three!

Susanne de Vasconcelos Barros Malheiros, M.Sc. Computer Engineering

SCC2021_Holger Wünsche

I already participated in the Student Cluster Competition 2020. This experience motivated me to dive deeper into this field. As a result I have gathered experience with OpenMPI, CUDA, Intel oneAPI (SYCL) and even learned about the basics of FPGAs and high performance networks. I am excited to improve our team with the insights was able to gather as last year’s team captain.

Holger Wünsche, B.Sc. Applied Computer Science