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Student Cluster 2022

CIUK adds flavor to their 3rd Annual Student Cluster Competition

One of the most fascinating and frustrating aspects of working in supercomputing is figuring out what resources are the right ones to utilise. With some of the best hardware, software, and applications available finding and fitting them to project requirements can sometimes seem a daunting task. That’s why this year the Flight Crew decided to kick off the 2022 Student Cluster Competition with a lesson in solution design.

Since joining the Student Cluster Competition in 2020 the Flight Crew has offered up different platforms for teams to work on. So far, we’ve been proud to offer public cloud and physical hardware solutions for the groups to use. This year, students will be working on Alces Flight’s Research Private Cloud platform, based on OpenStack.

Configured into groups of instance types (known to us as ‘flavors’) teams tested hardware performance, reliability and scalability against a series of challenges. The end result? Propose a solution they believe will best fit the customer requirements.

That’s not all. In keeping up with the changing nature of HPC we asked the teams to take a hard look at their power consumption and allocation of resources. For our teams, that meant they not only had to watch what they were using, but they also needed to talk to the other teams in order to ensure fair usage remained in play.

So what kit did the teams evaluate?

For this challenge we decided for the students to play with servers from Dell EMC. Namely:

  • Dell R650 1U enterprise server
  • Dell R6525 1U enterprise server
  • Dell R7525 2U visualisation server
  • Dell XE8545 4U Machine Learning server

We’ve also thrown some networking and infrastructure in thanks to from Cisco, Cornelis, Dell and HPE.

But what about storage?

We purposefully configured transient storage so as to encourage strong data management habits and make sure that when teams are done the hardware is wiped clean for the next users.

About the teams.

This year CIUK is hosting six teams of students hailing from York, Bristol, Birmingham, UCL, and Durham. Over the next ten weeks these students will get exposure to all different ways of utilising HPC hardware, software, and environments. Past winners have gone on to ISC to compete in their Student Cluster Competition.

So, who won?

After a hard-fought battle team ClusDur (Durham University) took home the win for our challenge… but there is much more to come. Good luck to all the teams and we can’t wait to see you in Manchester!

… and finally, if you would like to see a terribly professional review of the challenge, mirroring the style of creative responses received from the student teams, please enjoy:

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