The team of South African students that won the Student Cluster Competition at the recent International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) in Liepzig, Germany, entered the contest as the underdogs.

South Africa was represented at the competition for the first time this year, so the team didn’t know what to expect when they arrived in Liepzig. However, hard work, long hours and a fair amount of luck helped the youngsters complete all their tasks to snatch victory from a surprised Chinese team.

Their journey started one year ago, with Dell and the Centre for High Performance Computing (C-HPC) hosting a high-performance computing (HPC) competition in Durban. After exercises and skill set assessments, a group of students was selected to visit Dell in Austin to learn about the world of HPC.

Following training from Dell engineers, the youngsters put together their own HPC build, which is the system they used in the ISC competition.
The HPC they put together was a half-rack with 12 nodes of R720 servers.

At the competition, the students had to optimise their systems and run a series of benchmarks. The South African team squeaked into the lead by completing their last two benchmarks with just minutes to spare – one of only two teams to complete all their tasks.

Pictured are some of the team members – Kerren Ortlepp, Nobantu Evelyn Khoboka, Muhammad Atif, Jan-Willem Steeb and Ryan Strange – who won the Student Cluster Competition. They were accompanied by David MacLeod from the CSIR and Vernon Nicholls from Dell.