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    Official Competition Rules, Regulations, Details, and Stuff


    •  A team consists of three to six students with up to two official coaches/mentors. Additional mentors can work with the teams at any time except during the actual final results runs for the various applications and benchmarks. During that period, no coaches or outside mentors can help students.
    • Teams are typically composed of students from the same university or associated with a research institution. However, teams can be from different institutions as long as they compete under a common team name.

    Eligible Students

    • Any student who has not received an initial degree by July 30th, 2021 is eligible to participate in this competition.
      • High school students of any age are also eligible to compete either as an entire team or participating as part of a university team.
      • Masters or PhD students are eligible, but for each Masters/PhD student added to a team, the team will be reduced by two (2) undergraduate students. Thus a team with one PhD student can only have an additional four undergraduate students. A team with two Phd students will be limited to two additional undergraduate students. Maximum number of PhD students on a team is three.


    • Each team can have as many informal coaches or mentors as they want, however, they can only have a maximum of two official coaches. Coaches/mentors do not have to be faculty members of the team institution.
    • Teams cannot receive any assistance from faculty coaches/mentors during the final competition period of each benchmark/application.

    Team Manager

    • Each team will appoint a team manager who will work with the organizers to coordinate team activities, interviews, etc.
    • This can be a student who is or isn’t on the team, but they will be responsible as the single point of contact between the teams and Intersect360 Research, the competition organizers. Team managers will receive $500 at the end of the competition for their efforts. Any sponsor gifts, etc., will also be provided to the team manager.


    • Benchmarks: HPL (also known as LINPACK) and HPCG
    • Applications: Four HPC applications that will be named by competition mentors. Stay tuned for details.

    Cluster Access


    • We anticipate that students will have a week of cluster access on mentor systems for each application and the benchmarks. We will have more details on this as they become available.
    • Students will receive instruction from mentors covering the applications they selected, how to run them, practice data sets, and profiling help. Mentors may suggest tip on how to optimize performance for the applications but will not give the students specific instructions on this.

    Application Briefs

    • In order to get credit for completing an application, students must write an Application Brief for each benchmark and application they run. An “Application Brief” is a short presentation that must include the following components for each benchmark/application:
      • The ‘out of the box’ initial performance of the application on their cluster. This means the results from the first successful application/benchmark run on your cluster.
      • Steps your team took to understand the application and optimize it.
      • Final performance results on the application – we’re interested in your speedup and how you achieved it.
      • If you had problems with the application, please let us know what they were and if/how you overcame them.
      • Application Briefs will need to be turned in after each application is completed.
      • Application Briefs will be THE key factor for judging how well your team did in the competition and your final position in the field.

    Judges Interviews

    • Each interview will last for 30-40 minutes. Please prepare a PowerPoint presentation and be ready to present it to the judges.
      • Introduce the team to the judges. Try to ensure that each team member participates in the interview – this shouldn’t be a one-person job – the judges want to make sure that everyone worked as a team for the competition.
      • Expect to get questions about the applications and benchmarks, judges will ask you questions aimed at understanding how much you know about what you did on your systems.
      • Expect to get questions about the hardware configuration you used (CPUs, GPUs, memory, etc.)
      • They’ll ask what you did to optimize the applications and the results of your work.
      • Add any information on analysis and testing you performed to tune/optimize applications.
      • Use graphs or tables if appropriate.
      • Share your overall impressions of the competition, what you learned, and how this experience might help you in the future.

    Hardware/Software Rules & Regulations

    • These will be determined by the host mentor and student teams are required to adhere to any ground rules the mentors lay down.

    Software Rules & Regulations

    HPC 101 Classes

    • Competition organizers will be providing introductory HPC class sessions for student teams. These will be in the form of a Zoom conference and students are encouraged to attend and ask questions. Sessions will be recorded and made available for all participants.

    Event Publicity

    • Event Publicity: Publicity is very important to this competition. It makes the competition possible and also will pay dividents for students as individuals and their schools.
      • Each team will receive a webcam and will be required to use the provided webcam for team interviews, judging sessions, etc, unless we use another tool like Zoom.
      • Teams can expect to be interviewed three or four times during the months before the competition and during the actual competition as well.
      • Publicity interviews will be hosted on the competition website as well as on major HPC publications like HPCwire, InsideHPC, and others.

    The Brueckner Award

    • This is a scholarship named after Rich Brueckner, long time tech journalist who passed away this year. He was a big fan of the cluster competitions and would love to see that his name is now associated with this competition.
    • The award is twelve $1,000 scholarships, one member from each of the twelve teams will receive this award..
    • In order for students to be eligible for the award, they need to submit:
    • A copy of their collegiate transcripts.
    • A one-page essay covering why they think they are the best choice for this award, their background, academic performance, etc.
    • Due dates for these materials will be announced at a later date. All submissions will be kept strictly confidential.

    The HPC JumpStart Award

    • The winning institution will receive a grant of at least $10,000 worth of equipment, services, and consulting (depending on the needs of the institution) to help jump start HPC at their school.
    • Intersect360 Research will coordinate this grant with competition sponsors.

    Tentative Competition Timeline

    November – January: Teams are assembled, mentors signed up, the process of getting students credentials for mentor systems will be started. HPC 101 class(es) will be conducted, just to name a few tasks.

    • February – March: Students will be working with mentors on applications. We anticipate a week per application/mentor with a break of a week in between applications. Much of this will depend on mentor schedules, but we will communicate schedule news as soon as it becomes available. Application Briefs are due after each application is complete.
    • Late-March: competition ends with the Gala Awards Ceremony.
    • Awards will be, well, awarded for Overall Champion, Second Place, Third Place, Highest LINPACK (HPL) and Highest HPCG. The winning university will receive a “HPC Jumpstart Award” which is a (at least) $10,000 equipment and services grant to help the organization develop HPC engagement at their institution.