November 22, 2023 - by CSCS

RACKlette, a team of students at ETH Zurich interested in high performance computing technology and methods, won the Student Cluster Competition at the SC23 conference in Denver, CO. The Student Cluster Competition (SCC) a central highlight of the Supercomputing Conference (SC23), brings together undergraduate teams from across the globe in a spirited and collaborative challenge. The aim is to introduce students to the exciting and fast-changing world of high-performance computing, artificial intelligence and related fields.

The first European team that did it!

Eleven selected finalist teams took part in the competition, including six from the USA, three from China, one from Singapore and one from Switzerland. The victory achieved by the Swiss team RACKlette at SC23 is a significant milestone: Since the first edition of the SCC back in 2007, this is the first time that a European team has won the competition. 

Sponsored by various hardware and software vendors, each team is tasked to design, build, and operate a small computer cluster. They immerse themselves in scientific applications, learning and applying different techniques for their chosen architectures in a non-stop, 48-hour intense competition.

The challenges faced by the students not only fostered a strong team spirit but also cultivated lasting friendships. They learned to depend on, trust and support each other, highlighting the strengths of each individual. “This was an incredible journey for all of us. In the last two days we were working around the clock to tackle challenging problems,” says Sophia Herrmann of the RACKlette team. “We are immensely grateful to all the individuals and institutions that contributed to our success.” 

Team RACKlette secured the victory guided by Torsten Hoefler, a professor of ETH Zurich and Chief Architect for Machine Learning at the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre (CSCS). “The SC Student Cluster Competition is the world’s premier event for young students to compete in an exciting and challenging environment, shaping the future generations of experts in high-performance computing, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and data science”, Hoefler says.

This achievement was attributed to thorough preparation, with significant contributions from Hussein Harake, a senior systems engineer at CSCS. Throughout the year, Harake led the students in their hands-on work, organizing workshops with CSCS experts, and former student members of the RACKlette team, providing essential practical experience for the competition. “Collaborating with my colleagues at CSCS, previous student RACKlette team members, and the current RACKlette team was an absolute pleasure,” says Harake sharing his excitement. “These young students are the emerging face of supercomputing. We have jointly demonstrated Switzerland's strong competitive ability in this advanced field.” 

This year, team RACKlette was sponsored by E4 Computer Engineering, NVIDIA, SPCL at ETH Zurich, HaslerStiftung, and CSCS. Without them, the young students would not have been able to enjoy such a rewarding experience.

Image above: team RACKlette during the award ceremony. (Photo: Jo Ramsey, SC Photography)

First impressions of the RACKlette team participating in the Student Cluster Competition

Congratulations to RACKlette of ETH Zurich for winning the Student Cluster Competition

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