Purdue student supercomputing team up for the challenge of international competition
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Three years of being somewhat tied to a keyboard for most of three days trying to coax a supercomputer and the complex scientific software running on it to function optimally might seem to be enough, but Purdue University senior Alex Younts is at it a fourth time.
Younts is on a Purdue student team that made and will run its own supercomputer in the Cluster Challenge competition at the SC10 conference in New Orleans, the world's largest supercomputing conference.
"Every year I think we've gotten a little better," says Younts, a computer science major from West Lafayette, Ind. "We've done well, but we've never won outright. This is my last chance."
The Purdue Cluster Challenge team was one of eight selected for the competition and will compete against teams from Russia and Taiwan as well as U.S. teams spread from New York and Florida to Colorado and Texas. Purdue's is the lone team from the Big Ten. The Cluster Challenge runs from Monday (Nov. 15) through Nov. 17.
The other Cluster Challenge team members are Alex Bartol, a junior in computer science from Fort Wayne, Ind.; Dan Dietz, a senior in computer science from Batesville, Ind.; Joad Fattah, a sophomore in computer science from Carmel, Ind.; Michael Heffernan, a junior in computer science from Kokomo, Ind.; Alex Miller, a junior in earth and atmospheric sciences from Zionsville, Ind.; John-Michael Mulesa, a senior in computer engineering from Munster, Ind.; and Charles Timko, a senior in computer science from Highland, Ind.
With 192 processors, a hundred times more than a typical personal computer, Purdue's 2010 Cluster Challenge entry is like a mini version of the Rossmann supercomputer Purdue installed over the summer. HP and AMD, whose hardware was used in Rossmann, loaned the hardware for the student supercomputer. Faculty researchers in aeronautics, engineering, nanotechnology, biology, chemistry, physics and statistics, among other fields, use Rossmann.
Likewise, the Cluster Challenge team - limited to undergraduates - must continuously tweak its machine to run an assigned selection of real research software, crunching voluminous sets of sample data as quickly and efficiently as possible, all while staying within a competition-imposed electricity limit. The 2010 applications cover weather forecasting, the dynamics of biological molecules, stellar explosions and computer password security.
Information Technology at Purdue (ITaP), Purdue's Central Information Technology Organization, sponsors the team. Younts and other team members helped build Rossmann as student workers at the Rosen Center for Advanced Computing, ITaP's research computing unit. Randy Herban and Stephen Harrell, systems administrators for ITaP, coach the team.
Mike Baldwin, a Purdue Earth and Atmospheric Sciences professor, serves as faculty advisor.
Writer: Greg Kline, 765-494-8167 (office), 765-426-8545 (cell), firstname.lastname@example.org
Sources: Mike Baldwin, 765-427-1452, email@example.com
Alex Younts, 765-589-1110, firstname.lastname@example.org