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2018 APAC HPC-AI Student Competition Sharpens Weather Forecast Accuracy and Image Recognition to Deliver Improved Real-Life Results

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Co-Organized by The National Supercomputing Centre (NSCC) Singapore
and HPC-AI Advisory Council, The Competition Brought Together 18 Student
Teams from 7 Asia Pacific Countries for a 5-Month Challenge

The Competition Yielded Winning Solutions that Can Improve The
Real-Life Accuracy for Weather Forecasts and Image Recognition

Participants Utilized NSCC
Singapore's ASPIRE 1
 (Singapore's Only Petascale
Supercomputer) and Were Able to Perform Multiple and Complex
Calculations and Simulations, Processing ImageNet Dataset and CONUS
2.5km Data in Under Ten Minutes

The HPC-AI Advisory Council, a leading community benefit organization
dedicated to high-performance computing (HPC) and artificial
intelligence (AI) research, education and outreach, in collaboration
with NSCC Singapore, today announced the winning teams of the first
Asia-Pacific HPC-AI Competition during a live award ceremony in
Singapore. The award ceremony recognized the top three winners and
meritorious performers from amongst 18 teams representing prestigious
universities throughout Asia-Pacific.

The competition kicked off at Supercomputing Asia 2018, NSCC Singapore's
flagship HPC annual conference, on the 27th of March, 2018 by Dr. Janil
Puthucheary, the then Senior Minister of State for Communications and
Education, and ended on the 13th of August, 2018. The competition saw
intense, but healthy, rivalry among 18 university teams from seven
countries, and yielded winning solutions for improving the real-life
accuracy of weather forecasts and image recognition. Tasked with
demonstrating the highest performance on a range of complex HPC and AI
applications, China's Tsinghua University team was awarded First Place.
Second and Third Place were awarded to the two Taiwanese teams from
National Cheng Kung University.

The two primary focuses of the competition were High Performance
Computing (HPC) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications. For the
HPC applications, teams were challenged to achieve the highest
simulation speed of the CONUS 2.5km benchmark using the Weather Research
and Forecasting (WRF) Model, a very popular weather forecast tool used
in by weather research institutes around the world. This application
reduces forecasting time while maintaining its level of precision. For
AI applications, the competition focused on multi-node distributed
training of the ImageNet dataset. Participating teams were challenged to
optimise the AI framework and neural network architecture. This is
aligned with what the world is now doing in AI, turning technology into
real-life applications including smart city and security-related
initiatives.

To collect the winner's trophy, the top winning team from China's
Tsinghua University had to analyse, evaluate and optimise the
performance of multiple nodes, and each node with multiple GPUs, over an
intense five-month period. The top winning team also gets to participate
in the 2019 International HPC-ISC Student Cluster Competition, to be
held in Germany, June 2019.

The second and third trophy-winning teams were the two teams represented
by Taiwan's National Cheng Kung University. The fight to the wire was
very tight, with all winning teams demonstrating a high level of
performance. To further encourage the teams throughout the competition,
a special prize for creativity was announced. Teams submitted a video of
their five-month journey and were graded based on the video's level of
creativity. The special prize-winning team was from Thailand's Thammasat
University.

Said Chief Judge and Chairman of the HPC Advisory Council Mr Gilad
Shainer, "The judges were really impressed with the high levels of
skill and strategy that participants evidenced throughout the
competition period. This made the judging committee's job that much
harder, as each team proved to be an equal match with one another.
Ultimately, what impressed us most was how such a student competition
could yield results to improve the lives of ordinary individuals the
world over.
The competition proved once again that the
availability of HPC resources can empower universities, research
laboratories and commercial vendors to develop tomorrow's products and
services, from safer cars and airplanes, to more accurate weather and
storm predictions, as well as finding new cures. Since HPC and AI
applications share the same underlying technologies and infrastructures,
new developments in HPC are being adopted immediately for AI, and vice
versa, and could also extend to commercial areas including security and
smart nation initiatives
."

Mr Shainer added, "We commend all the teams for their tremendous
efforts and achievements demonstrated throughout the months of this
competition, and extend our sincere appreciation to NSCC Singapore for
their partnership and managing this important region-wide competition.
We also thank the competition committee for its support of the
competition throughout. It's an incredible opportunity to contribute to
the development of the core knowledge and critical skills for the
region's new generation of HPC and AI researchers, scientists and
professionals, and the council's mission in continuous outreach and
education."

NSCC Singapore's Chief Executive Prof Tan Tin Wee shared, "If you
think that supercomputing competitions are but an exercise conducted in
an ivory tower, offering no practical benefits to mankind - think again.
This competition supports NSCC Singapore's mission to use HPC to power
innovation and champion Asia as a regional supercomputing centre. The
winning solutions show clearly how supercomputing can align research,
university work and commercial considerations to drive innovation that
benefits all. It has been our privilege to be the co-organiser of this
event."

About the 2018 HPC-AI Competition

The 2018 APAC HPC-AI Competition was managed by the HPC-AI Advisory
Council and NSCC Singapore in March to encourage students throughout
Asia Pacific to showcase their education and hone their expertise in a
friendly, yet spirited region-wide competition, comprised of two parts;
HPC and AI. The HPC teams were tasked to benchmark the Weather Research
and Forecasting (WRF) Model and were scored based on performance and
scalability. The AI teams were tasked to run the benchmark based on
ImageNet dataset and were scored based on their performance improvement.

AI has rocketed from an emerging idea to a critical domain across
industries, interests, disciplines and technologies for its extensive
capability and promise – from better and more accurate decision-making
from massive amounts of data to enabling deep intelligence and
innovation – from science, manufacturing, security and finance to
self-driving cars and smart cities.

In parallel, continuous advances in HPC disciplines and technologies are
enabling academia, government and commercial industries to develop
breakthrough discoveries in new products and services – from safer
transportation, accurate storm prediction and weather forecasting, to
finding new lifesaving cures, and much more. By sharing the same
underlying methodologies, technologies and infrastructures, new
developments in HPC and AI are being adopted immediately in both domains.

Supporting Resources:

For more information and general questions please email info@hpcadvisorycouncil.com

About the HPC-AI Advisory Council

Founded in 2008, the non-profit HPC-AI Advisory Council is an
international organization with over 400 members committed to education
and outreach. Members share expertise, lead special interest groups and
have access to the technology center to explore opportunities and
evangelize the benefits of HPC and AI technologies, applications and
future development. The council hosts multiple annual conferences and
STEM challenges worldwide including the RDMA Student Competition in
China and the Student Cluster Competition in Germany. Membership is free
of charge and obligation. More information: www.hpcadvisorycouncil.com.

About National Supercomputing Centre (NSCC) Singapore

The National Supercomputing Centre (NSCC) Singapore was established in
2015 and manages Singapore's first national petascale facility with high
performance computing (HPC) resources to support science and engineering
computing needs for academic, research and industry communities. Funded
by its stakeholders, including Agency for Science Technology and
Research (A*STAR), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), National
University of Singapore (NUS), and Singapore University of Technology
and Design (SUTD), with substantial funding from the Singapore Ministry
of Trade and Industry (MTI), NSCC Singapore aims to democratise access
to supercomputing. NSCC Singapore works with local and international
organisations to catalyse collaborative HPC projects and programmes
which support national research and development initiatives, attract
industrial research collaborations and enhance Singapore's research
capabilities. For more information, please visit https://nscc.sg.

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