A Look Back at the 2018 CHPC Conference in South Africa

In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team looks back at the highlights of the 2018 CHPC Conference in South Africa. With over 500 attendees, the event featured a set of keynotes on high performance computing as well as a Student Cluster Challenge and a Cyber Security Competition.

The comprehensive program included national and international contributions as well as contributions from cyberinfrastructure system partners: the South African National Research Network and the Data Intensive Research Initiative of South Africa. Captains of the HPC Industry across the globe provided key talks and workshops during the conference week and they included: Patricia Damkrogel, Vice President and General Manager of Intel, Thomas Sterling from Indiana University, USA; Michael Foley who has recently retired from the World Bank, Bhekisipho Twala from the University of South Africa, Khutso  Ngoasheng from the South African  Radio Astronomy Observatory, Elmarie Biermann from the Cyber Security Institute and many others.

The SADC HPC Collaboration Forum participated in discussions around the HPC framework and implementations plans for a regional HPC facility that would be used to find scientific solutions for common problems and other research in which member states could collaborate.

This year, following the theme of the conference on how HPC Transforms for the Future, increasing the participation of women in HPC was prominent. This was supported by the introduction of a sponsorship for an outstanding female in the Student Cluster Challenge. The award in this newly introduced category, sponsored by Intel, was taken by Ms. Mapule Madzena, a student from the University of the Free State. She was hailed as the best female student and walked away with R64 500.

Student Competition Highlights included:

  • Six students from the University of Cape Town (UCT) and the University of the Witwatersrand (WITS), who came out tops at a national student cluster competition to build a supercomputer, will fly the South African flag high at the International Student Cluster competition in Germany, in June next year.
  • During the competition, 10 teams of students from various universities in the country battled it out to build small high performance computing clusters on the exhibition floor – using hardware provided by CHPC and its industrial partners – and raced to demonstrate the best performance across a series of benchmarks and applications.
  • Sefan Schroder, Dilon Heald, Jehan Singh and Clara Staasen from UCT; Anita de Mello Koch and Kaamilah Desai from WITS, will test their skills against their international counterparts’ when they compete with students from 11 countries that including China, Germany, Poland, Singapore and Thailand, among others.
  • In the cybersecurity challenge, the University of Pretoria came first, followed by Stellenbosch University. This competition provides a platform for students to compete in real-time and come up with ideas that could protect South Africa from cybercrimes. The winning team will compete at an appropriate international competition, such as the European Cyber Security Challenge.

Speaking at the conference, DST Chief Director: Emerging Research Areas and Infrastructure, Dr Daniel Adams, said that the event was critical to develop the skills needed in the country.

The DST remains committed to supporting skills development and new interventions. The CHPC is a great platform to stimulate the pipeline and boost human capital development. Initiatives such as these have led to slow, but steady, improvement in the enrollment of doctoral degrees,” he said.

CHPC Director, Dr Happy Sithole was impressed with the calibre of student who participated in the competitions. “I am very proud of the kind of innovation displayed by the students. I believe that they will represent us well at international stages.These competitions are critical to equip the future generation with cyberinfrastructure, supercomputing experience and expose science, technology, engineering, mathematics and innovation students to an array of opportunities”.

Over the years, South Africa has performed well at the International Student Cluster competition, wining it in 2013, 2014 and 2016, while coming second in 2015 and 2017. In June this year, the team came third, after two teams from China at the cluster challenge in Frankfurt, Germany.

Dr Sithole was also pleased with the progress made in building a strong high performance computing community in the country.

This year, our focus was on the transformation of both the use and development of cyberinfrastructure, which will help the industries, academics and the nations from across the continent. Looking back at the first meeting where we engaged in the discussions of building a strong high performance computing community in South Africa, and advocating for financial support from government, significant growth has been achieved. Notably, it is now a continental focus, not only on computing, but overall cyberinfrastructure growth and demonstration of impact”, he said.

Student Poster Competition

The conference also had 60 students showcasing their research posters for work conducted through the use of high performance computing. The poster students were judged mostly by external adjudicators under the following criteria: quality of the poster, the high performance computing content and quality of research, their ability to communicate the science content and the general impression of the presentation. The winner of the Masters-level poster was Beauty Shibiri from the University of Limpopo for the abstract title: Investigating the Structural and Volume Changes of Composite Layered-Spinel Nanoporous Li-Mn-O Electrode Materials. In the Doctoral-level, the award went to Elkana Rugut from WITS for the abstract title: Thermoelectric Properties of CdAl204 spinel.

Exhibition area

The expo zone of the conference consisted of industries who provided valuable support to the funding of the conference, companies like Intel (diamond sponsor), Altair and Dell EMC (platinum sponsors) and Mellanox and Hewlett Packard (gold sponsors) ensured that the CHPC is able to bring leading speakers to add to the stature of the conference.

Other sponsors included Student Cluster Competition sponsors: DELL EMC, Eclise Holdings, Altair, Bright Computing, Mellanox, Microsoft and Intel; as well as Student Cyber Security Challenge sponsors: Microsoft and MWR.

Please visit the gallery to see more photos from the conference.

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RFHPC215: A Hard Look at Santa’s Big Data Challenges

In this podcast video, the Radio Free HPC team looks at the monumental IT challenges that Santa faces each Holiday Season.

With nearly 2 billion children to serve, Santa’s operations are an IT challenge on the grandest scale. If the world’s population keeps growing by 83 million people per year, Santa may need to build a hybrid cloud just to keep up. With billions of simultaneous queries, the Big Data analytics required will certainly require an 8-socket numa machines with 4 terabytes of central memory.

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RFHPC214: A Look at TOP500 Trends on the Road to Exascale

From left, Henry Newman, Dan Olds, Shahin Khan, and Rich Brueckner are the Radio Free HPC team

In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team looks at the semi-annual TOP500 BoF presentation by Jack Dongarra.

The TOP500 list of supercomputers serves as a “Who’s Who” in the field of High Performance Computing (HPC). It started as a list of the most powerful supercomputers in the world and has evolved to a major source of information about trends in HPC. The 52nd TOP500 list will be published in November 2018 just in time for SC18. This BoF will present detailed analyses of the TOP500 and discuss the changes in the HPC marketplace during the past years. The BoF is meant as an open forum for discussion and feedback between the TOP500 authors and the user community.

After that, we do our Catch of the Week.

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RFHPC213: Running Down the TOP500 at SC18

In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team looks back on the highlights of SC18 and the newest TOP500 list of the world’s fastest supercomputers.

Buddy Bland shows off Summit, the world’s fastest supercomputer at ORNL.

The latest TOP500 list of the world’s fastest supercomputers is out, a remarkable ranking that shows five Department of Energy supercomputers in the top 10, with the first two captured by Summit at Oak Ridge and Sierra at Livermore. With the number one and number two systems on the planet, the “Rebel Alliance” vendors of IBM, Mellanox, and NVIDIA stand far and tall above the others.

Summit widened its lead as the number one system, improving its High Performance Linpack (HPL) performance from 122.3 to 143.5 petaflops since its debut on the previous list in June 2018. Sierra also added to its HPL result from six months ago, going from 71.6 to 94.6 petaflops, enough to bump it from the number three position to number two. Both are IBM-built supercomputers, powered by Power9 CPUs and NVIDIA V100 GPUs.

Sierra’s ascendance pushed China’s Sunway TaihuLight supercomputer, installed at the National Supercomputing Center in Wuxi, into third place. Prior to last June, it had held the top position on the TOP500 list for two years with its HPL performance of 93.0 petaflops. TaihuLight was developed by China’s National Research Center of Parallel Computer Engineering & Technology (NRCPC).

In this video from ISC 2018, Yan Fisher from Red Hat and Buddy Bland from ORNL discuss Summit, the world’s fastest supercomputer. Red Hat teamed with IBM, Mellanox, and NVIDIA to provide users with a new level of performance for HPC and AI workloads.

Tianhe-2A (Milky Way-2A), deployed at the National Supercomputer Center in Guangzho, China, is now in the number four position with a Linpack score of 61.4 petaflops. It was upgraded earlier this year by China’s National University of Defense Technology (NUDT), replacing the older Intel Xeon Phi accelerators with the proprietary Matrix-2000 chips.

Top-500, Green-500, IO-500, HPCG, and now CryptoSuper-500 all point to growing versatility of supercomputers,” said Shahin Khan from OrionX. “It’s time to more explicitly recognize that. Counting systems which are capable of doing Linpack but In fact are doing something else continues to be an issue. We need additional info about systems so we can tally them correctly and make this less of a game.”

At number five is Piz Daint, a Cray XC50 system installed at the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre (CSCS) in Lugano, Switzerland. At 21.2 petaflops, it maintains its standing as the most powerful system in Europe. It is powered by a combinations of Intel Xeon processors and NVIDIA Tesla P100 GPUs

Trinity, a Cray XC40 system operated by Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories improved its performance to 20.2 petaflops, enough to move it up one position to the number six spot. It uses Intel Xeon Phi processors, the only top ten system to do so.

The AI Bridging Cloud Infrastructure (ABCI) installed in Japan at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) is listed at number seven with a Linpack mark of 19.9 petaflops. The Fujitsu-built system is powered by Intel Xeon Gold processors, along with NVIDIA Tesla V100 GPUs.

Germany provided a new top ten entry with SuperMUC-NG, a Lenovo-built supercomputer installed at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (Leibniz-Rechenzentrum) in Garching, near Munich. With more than 311,040 Intel Xeon cores and an HPL performance of 19.5 petaflops, it captured the number eight position.

Titan, a Cray XK7 installed at the DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and previously the most powerful supercomputer in the US, is now the number nine system. It achieved 17.6 petaflops using NVIDIA K20x GPU accelerators.

Sequoia, an IBM BlueGene/Q supercomputer installed at DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, is the 10th-ranked TOP500 system. It was first delivered in 2011, achieving 17.2 petaflops on HPL.

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RFHPC212: Inside the Spaceborne Supercomputer from HPE

In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team sits down with Mark Fernandez from HPE to discuss the Spaceborne Supercomputer that it currently orbiting the planet in the International Space Station.

Last week, HPE announced it is opening high-performance computing capabilities to astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) as part of its continued experiments on the Spaceborne Computer project.

Spaceborne Computer is the first commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) supercomputer that HPE and NASA launched into space for a one-year experiment to test resiliency and performance, achieving one teraFLOP (a trillion floating point operations per second) and successfully operating on the International Space Station (ISS).  After completing its one-year mission proving it can withstand harsh conditions of space – such as zero gravity, unscheduled power outages, and unpredictable levels of radiation – Spaceborne Computer will now, for the first time ever, open its supercomputing capabilities for use aboard the ISS. These “above-the-cloud” services will allow space explorers and experimenters to run analyses directly in space instead of transmitting data to and from Earth for insight.

Our mission is to bring innovative technologies to fuel the next frontier, whether on Earth or in space, and make breakthrough discoveries we have never imagined before,” said Dr. Eng Lim Goh, Chief Technology Officer and Vice President, HPC and AI, HPE. “After gaining significant insights from our first successful experiment with Spaceborne Computer, we are continuing to test its potential by opening up above-the-cloud HPC capabilities to ISS researchers, empowering them to take space exploration to a new level.”

After that, we do our Catch of the Week:

  • Shahin saw some cartoony Beethoven thing that he liked a lot. He also like this video of artists from over 124 countries singing Ghandi’s favorite bhajan, “Vaishnav Jan To Tene Kahiye.”
  • Dan likes the story about the European HPC Handbook. You can’t tell all the players without a program.
    • Dan is starting a 4800 mile road tour on his roundtrip to Dallas for SC18. He’s hitting all the labs and supercomputer centers he can along the way.
  • Rich is proud to announce that his first documentary film has already raised $700 for the Multnomah County Animal Shelter.

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RFHPC211: A Preview of the SC18 Student Cluster Competition

In this podcast, Radio Free HPC Previews the SC18 Student Cluster Competition.

The Student Cluster Competition was developed in 2007 to provide an immersive high performance computing experience to undergraduate and high school students. With sponsorship from hardware and software vendor partners, student teams design and build small clusters, learn designated scientific applications, apply optimization techniques for their chosen architectures, and compete in a non-stop, 48-hour challenge at the SC conference to complete a real-world scientific workload, showing off their HPC knowledge for conference attendees and judges. Teams are composed of six students, at least one advisor, and vendor partners. The advisor provides guidance and recommendations, the vendor provides the resources (hardware and software) and the students provide the skill and enthusiasm. Students work with their advisors to craft a proposal that describes the team, the suggested hardware, and their approach to the competition. The SCC committee reviews each proposal and provides comments for all submissions received before the deadline.”

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RFHPC210: SC18 Preview

In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team looks ahead to preview SC18 in Dallas. The conference takes place Nov. 11 – 16.

SC18 in Dallas is world’s largest gathering of HPC professionals, and the smart money is on the organizations that leverage the show for their own gatherings, meetups, special booth sessions, and user groups. Here is a roundup of special events not to miss.

Ancillary Events at SC18:

Does your company have special events planned for SC18? Let us know at news @ insidehpc.com and we will add it to this post.

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RFHPC206: A Look at the Frightening NotPetya Cyber Attack

In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team looks at one of the most massive hacks ever, the NotPetya cyber attack on shipping company Maersk and their partners.

This story, featured in Wired magazine, should send chills down the spines of anyone out there who isn’t religiously updating their machines. In other news, Dan is in Australia for the week at the HPC-AI Advisory Council annual Perth meeting, in his catch of the week, he discusses how one of the companies at the conference has made extensive use of IBM’s Watson and is seeing great benefits. Shahin brings up a new camera with almost unimaginable image specs, while Henry get his two cents in on everything else.”

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RFHPC205: A look at Hot Chips 2018

In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team looks at the latest developments in processor technology coming out of the recent Hot Chips conference.

Since it started in 1989, HOT CHIPS has been known as one of the semiconductor industry’s leading conferences on high-performance microprocessors and related integrated circuits. The conference is held once a year in August in the center of the world’s capital of electronics activity, Silicon Valley.

The HOT CHIPS conference typically attracts more than 500 attendees from all over the world. It provides an opportunity for chip designers, computer architects, system engineers, press and analysts, as well as attendees from national laboratories and academia to mix, mingle and see presentations on the latest technologies and products. The three days of the conference typically feature two tutorials, two keynotes, a panel discussion and around 25 presentations on a variety of subjects related to microprocessors and integrated circuits conference.

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RFHPC204: A Look at the New Eagle Supercomputer at NREL

In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team looks at the new Eagle supercomputing under construction at NREL.

The new machine from HPE will run more detailed models that simulate complex processes, systems, and phenomena to advance early research and development on energy technologies across fields including vehicle, wind power, and data sciences.

We are strongly committed to architecting technologies to power the next wave of supercomputing and are creating advanced HPC systems while scaling energy efficiency in data centers, to get us there,” said Bill Mannel, vice president and general manager, HPC and AI Group, HPE. “Through Eagle and our overall ongoing collaboration with the U.S. DOE and NREL, we are advancing research to bolster innovation in energy and sustainability.”

After that, we do our Catch of the Week:

  • Shahin likes the story coming out of DEFCON where 11 year olds were able to hack a local election result web site in just minutes. They had 39 kids from ages 6-17.
  • Dan likes the story about the kid who hacked into Apple and was apprehended with a store of sensitive data. Will they give a job someday?
  • Dan also notes that the new Foreshadow exploit makes your home computer vulnerable to something called SGX. This stuff is never ending, so do we need to rethink how we do computing?
  • Shahin is convinced that Ai is just a subset of HPC.
  • Rich is impressed with NVIDIA’s new Turing GPUs that can do real-time ray tracing. How fast is that? They measure their performance as 10 Gigarays per second.

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