The Linpack Benchmark is a measure of a computer’s floating-point rate of execution. It is determined by running a computer program that solves a dense system of linear equations. It is used by the TOP 500 as a tool to rank peak performance. The benchmark allows the user to scale the size of the problem and to optimize the software in order to achieve the best performance for a given machine. This performance does not reflect the overall performance of a given system, as no single number ever can. It does, however, reflect the performance of a dedicated system for solving a dense system of linear equations. Since the problem is very regular, the performance achieved is quite high, and the performance numbers give a good correction of peak performance.
- HPCG Benchmark
The High Performance Conjugate Gradients (HPCG) Benchmark project is an effort to create a new metric for ranking HPC systems. HPCG is intended as a complement to the High Performance LINPACK (HPL) benchmark, currently used to rank the TOP500 computing systems. The computational and data access patterns of HPL are still representative of some important scalable applications, but not all. HPCG is designed to exercise computational and data access patterns that more closely match a different and broad set of important applications, and to give incentive to computer system designers to invest in capabilities that will have impact on the collective performance of these applications.
- Distributed Password Auditing/Recovery
Password Recovery Task
The use of Computer Accounts and Passwords as a means of accessing computer systems is ubiquitous. As long as passwords have been used, people have attempted to guess them for a variety of reasons.
Passwords on most modern systems are maintained as a one-way-hash. The one-way-hash is a hash function that will take the password, certain other values, and compute a hash. If the hash function is strong, it will be computationally difficult to determine the password given only the hash. Knowing how the hash is computed however, allows you to verify the password. Systems validate passwords by computing the hash from the inputted password, in the same way it was created, and compare the hash values - if the hash values match - then you have verified the password.
The nature of this also lends itself to a technique for recovering passwords. If you can obtain the password hashes - specifically you can guess and test to determine if a particular hash matches a particular password. This is the technique used by a variety of password recovery (or cracking) programs. Such programs may use simple guessing, but most often use a dictionary of words, and will sometimes permute the words in the dictionary, and try various combinations to see if a password hash matches a password based on a word (or a modification of a word). These tools are used both by the people who attack systems (to guess passwords) and by the people who try to prevent attacks by auditing users' passwords (The role you are currently playing).
One of the most important steps in the research process is the analysis of data generated via experiment or simulation. In many cases, a key to insight in this analysis step is the visualization of huge amounts of data that represent some aspect of a physical system.
ParaView is a data analysis and visualization application that is widely used in a variety of scientific disciplines. With ParaView researchers can quickly build visualizations to analyze their data using qualitative and quantitative techniques. Eata exploration can be done interactively in 3D or programmatically using ParaView’s batch processing capabilities.
Of greater interest for the cluster competition, ParaView was developed to analyze extremely large datasets using distributed memory computing resources. It has been run on supercomputers to analyze datasets of petascale size and, has become an integral tool in many national laboratories, universities and industry. ParaView has also won several awards related to high performance computation.
What’s in that pond scum? A vast ecosystem of microbes make up a microbiome that can be studied by sequencing genes from an environmental sample. Assembling the genes of a huge number of organisms that have been directly sampled is a major challenge in metagenomics.
For the first time ever, students in the cluster competition will be asked to replicate the results of a publication from a past Supercomputing conference, using a distributed de novo assembler (ParConnect) for metagenomic assemblies.
Student Cluster Competition Reproducibility Initiative Winner: http://sc16.supercomputing.org/studentssc/scc-reproducibility-initiative-winner/
- Mystery Application
At the start of the competition, teams will be given an application and datasets for a mystery application. Students will be expected to build, optimize and run this mystery application all at the competition.
- Power Shutoff Activity
Some time during the general competition we will be shutting down the power. The exact timing of the shutdown is a secret. You and your team will need to know how to bring the hardware and software back from a full unscheduled power outage and how to resume any workload you were processing at that time. This exercise is designed to simulate real world events that system administrators must respond to. This activity will allow your team to demonstrate their systems skills by recovering the system.
This has happened before. During the first Student Cluster Competition, in 2007, the power to the Reno Convention Center suddenly failed. The entire show floor went dark. It turned out that the power coming to the convention center was inadequate for Supercomputing's high-performance machines. Power was out for an hour or so, followed by what the press described as "the world's largest reboot". After the conference, crews were seen laying additional power cables across Virginia Street.
Our competition clusters, of course, went down. When the power was restored, some teams, who had been checkpointing their systems, resumed their computations quickly. Other teams, who had not been saving data, lost many hours of work and had to start over. The experience prompted discussions about checkpointing in the real world--the tradeoff between protecting against possible disasters at a cost of reducing computations.
Since power and other failures are the realities of modern computing systems, we would like to encourage cluster teams to understand the tradeoffs, and to consider what is needed in real life. This year we will turn this thought-provoking accident into an activity to capture the think-on-your-feet spirit of the first competition.
The Overall SCC Winner will be the team with the highest score when combining their correctly completed workload of the four competition applications, mystery application, best benchmark run, application interviews, and HPC interview. The HPC interview will take into consideration the team's participation in the SC16 conference as well as their ability to wow the judges on their competition know-how.
Teams will be required to attend other aspects of the convention beyond the Student Cluster Competition, which will be included in their final score. Further details will be provided before the competition.