SA students nab first prize in international supercomputing competition

Stephan Schröder, Dillon Heald, Jehan Singh, Clara Stassen, Anita de Mello Koch, and Kaamilah Dessai. Image: ISC website

Stephan Schröder, Dillon Heald, Jehan Singh, Clara Stassen, Anita de Mello Koch, and Kaamilah Dessai. Image: ISC website

The undergraduate team trounced 13 other teams from around the world.

The science and technology department (DST) has applauded the six South African students who scooped first prize at the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) 2019 Student Cluster Competition in Frankfurt, Germany.

The undergraduate team, including four students from the University of Cape Town and two from the University of the Witwatersrand, trounced 13 other teams from around the world.

This win followed their success in the national round, where they beat nine other South African teams.

“The 2019 team, one of few comprising an equal representation of men and women, was supervised by David Macleod and Matthew Cawood, computer engineers from South Africa’s Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC),” DST spokesperson Thabang Setlhare said.

The students, Stephan Schröder, Dillon Heald, Jehan Singh, Clara Stassen, Anita de Mello Koch, and Kaamilah Dessai achieved the highest overall score against teams from the US, UK, China, Taiwan, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Estonia, Poland, and Singapore.

“The students had to showcase computing systems of their own design, and adhere to strict power constraints while striving for the highest performance across a series of high-performance computing benchmarks and applications,” Setlhare said

Team adviser and manager of the CHPC’s Advanced Computer Engineering Lab David Macleod said the South African team’s winning formula was to have dedicated students and sponsors.

“Our sponsors are excellent and allowed the team to choose equipment without restriction or compromise.  In turn, the students put in a lot of time and effort before the competition and arrived well prepared,” said Macleod.

The national and international competitions are sponsored in terms of hardware, software and training. The total value of the South African team’s cluster was about R6 million, with sponsorships from Dell EMC, Intel, Nvidia, and Mellanox.

“It is really good progress we have made as a nation, where we have demonstrated consistently that there is talent and skills in the country. These teams come from different universities and provinces, showing that this is now the national DNA,” Dr Happy Sithole, Director of the CHPC and manager of the National Integrated Cyberinfrastructure System (NICIS) said.

– African News Agency (ANA)

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