Hands off keyboards, the last computational challenge in the 2023 Winter Classic student cluster competition has been completed, the scores have been compiled, tallied, and then compiled again just to make sure.

(BREAKING NEWS:  The Winter Classic Gala Awards Ceremony will be held on Friday, 4/14, at 4:00 pm Pacific. Here’s the link to the Zoom conference. End breaking news.)

In this module, the AWS GROMACS Challenge, the cloudy taskmasters asked our 12 student teams to run GROMACS on three different cluster configurations and report their best results in terms of performance and price/performance.

This turned out to be the most difficult challenge in the entire competition. The average team score was 43.99% with a median of 38.55%, significantly below the marks for previous modules.

The top three finishers, UC Santa Cruz, Cal Poly Pomona, and the Texas Tech Matadors, scored 100%, 87.30% and 85.70% respectively.

The impact on our leaderboard was profound and sets up the closest finish yet in Winter Classic history. The top two teams are only separated by 2.09 points out of a total of 600 points possible. Who’s on top? Who’s in second? Check out the video below to see the detailed results.

There is only one event left in the competition:  The Judging Interview. This is a grueling grilling from competition mentors, aimed at seeing what the students know, what they’ve learned, and how they got the results they got. Ok, actually, it’s pretty friendly, like the rest of the HPC community.

The interview is worth 100 points and the results of it will determine what’s what for 2023. Several teams have a chance to move up (or down) based on their interview results. It’s white knuckle time!

AWS Mentor Interview

The overriding theme of the AWS GROMACS Challenge was to expose the students to the real-world life of an HPC application architect. The activities they had the students doing mirrored what these folks do daily as they answer typical customer questions such as “what will my application performance be on the cloud?”, “which instances provide the best performance?”  and the all-important “what is this going to cost me?”

In the video, we interview AWS architects Evan Bollig and Sean Smith (who is a past student cluster competition participant). They tell us how they structured the challenge and gave us some tidbits about the teams. For example, just one team accounted for one third of all the traffic on the AWS competition clusters. One team turned in a report that was so good that Evan thought it could be sold for significant money, which was very cool to hear.

Check out the video below to see more…

Next up is the Winter Classic Gala Awards Ceremony where we’ll see who came out on top, see who won Brueckner Award scholarships, and have some fun along the way. It will be held on Friday, 4/14, at 4:00 Pacific. Here’s the link to the Zoom webinar.

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