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IndySCC Is a New Cloud-Based Cluster Competition Within Students@SC


In addition to SC’s established Student Cluster Competition (SCC), Students@SC is organizing IndySCC. This cloud-based competition is designed to help teams that were not selected for
SCC increase their level of preparedness and enable them to surmount the high entry barrier to HPC competitions in the future. IndySCC originated in response to the increasing number of SCC applications.

This year’s inaugural competition is co-chaired by Aroua Gharbi, a Ph.D. candidate, and Darshan Sarojini, a postdoctoral fellow, both at the Georgia Institute of Technology. They are supported by a team of leading industry and research experts specialized in various HPC disciplines and applications.

It takes months for teams to prepare their applications for SCC. IndySCC provides a place for teams to compete should they not make it into SCC. Teams can use IndySCC to improve their skills and better prepare for future SCC competitions. Universities can also use IndySCC to develop an educational program around the competition, providing continuity between years and allowing them to keep the momentum of their programs from year to year.” — Jenett Tillotson, Students@SC Deputy Chair & IndySCC Advisor

The competition itself replicates the SCC, though it begins by mimicking a university course project spanning over four phases from July to October 2021. These phases are intended to provide hands-on training on Chameleon Cloud, HPCG benchmarking, the molecular dynamics package GROMACS, and the password cracker John the Ripper. On November 6th and 7th, five IndySCC teams will compete for a better ranking in SCC22 entrance. In addition to the applications they received training for, the teams will be challenged with an unknown obstacle to overcome during their 48 hours of the continuous run challenge.

IndySCC is supported by multiple HPC stakeholders specialized in various HPC disciplines and applications. Chameleon Cloud is the sole cloud provider for the competition. “We are very excited about the collaboration with Chameleon Cloud. We believe the unique features this platform offers will provide students with invaluable skills they will be able to showcase on their resumes”, shares Aroua Gharbi.

This collaboration is spearheaded by both Kate Keahey, Director of Chameleon Science, and Michael Sherman, Senior Engineer for the Chameleon Testbed. “Chameleon offers powerful and innovative hardware resources that can be reconfigured at bare metal level”, explains Sherman. He adds, “Everybody on the Chameleon team is very excited that the project will be providing a platform for IndySCC this year!” Additional support will be provided by Dmitry Duplyakin, Data Scientist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). “I am very excited to see talented teams compete and work on challenging computational problems”, shares Duplyakin.

The HPCG component of IndySCC is led by David Rogers, a Performance Engineer and Computational Scientist in the Advanced Computing for Chemistry and Materials group at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)’s National Center for Computational Science. HPCG is a prominent HPC systems ranking tool used in the TOP500 list. “SCC seems to be constantly testing the limits of new hardware and software technology, I see IndySCC competition as a natural extension of that environment”, says Rogers.

The teams will also use GROMACS, a free software used to perform molecular dynamics calculations such as Newton equations of motion. The problems, tutorials, and resources are designed by Micholas Smith, Computational Biophysicist and a postdoctoral fellow at ORNL. John the Ripper is another open-source package used during IndySCC. It is a password cracker that supports various hash types as well as an optional OpenMP parallelization. The lead for this application is William Scullin, HPC Group Leader, Laboratory for Laser Energetics at the University of Rochester.

The application choices are largely guided by current industry and academic practices.

“Supercomputing is increasingly being used to solve challenging problems. Part of the intent of IndySCC is to expose the teams to real-world applications and train them to think about solving them under resource constraints. The students have to think about optimization of both the hardware and the software.“ — Darshan Sarojini, IndySCC Co-Chair

Four SC veterans serve as advisors to the competition. Jenett Tillotson, as previously mentioned. Students@SC Chair Jay Lofstead, who kindled the idea of a virtual cluster competition with a focus on education and inclusivity. “Over the next few years, we hope this competition grows in prominence and popularity expanding the number of teams that can participate in the team competitions”, says Lofstead. SCC Chair Kathleen Shoga, who has been at the forefront of this effort since its inception. Doug Smith, senior HPC and Network Engineer for the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP), will leverage his extensive knowledge of SCC at nearly every level to support the competing teams. “IndySCC will be an exciting way to bring new teams into the outstanding SCC competition”, says Smith.


All participating teams will be awarded free registration to SC21. This includes full access to the Technical Program and Workshops including Students@SC events. Complimentary one-year student membership to SIGHPC will also be included.

Stay tuned for the IndySCC team reveal!

Christine Baissac-Hayden, SC21 Students@SC Communications Liaison

Christine Baissac-Hayden created Easy English 4 All, which provides multilingual communication tools for clients from diverse backgrounds in the renewable energy, medical, defense, marine science, and film industries. Easy English 4 All provides English as a Second Language (ESL), French, Spanish and Japanese tutoring from certified native-speaking teachers and organizes international student exchanges with personalized objectives and goals.

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