MaiMUC: Supercomputing XXS

Maypoles have a long tradition in Bavaria – in many villages they are set up on the market square on 1 May or at Whitsun with brass music and dance. In some places they stand in the middle of a settlement all year round and show colourful boards depicting local craftsmen and professions. In order to demonstrate computer science knowledge and experience in High Performance Computing (HPC), the Chair of Computer Architecture and Parallel Systems (CAPS) at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has created a very special maypole: Instead of guild signs, ten Raspberry Pis with mini-LCD monitors hang on an aluminium rod painted in blue and white. „The maypole was handcrafted and stands for parallel computer applications in supercomputing. It is very popular at HPC conferences abroad,” says Dr. Carsten Trinitis, senior scientist and lecturer at the chair: “No one passes by the MaiMUC without taking a closer look.“

MaiMUC – Exercise Device for Calculating at the SuperMUC

Of course, the MaiMUC is on display at SC19 in Denver: The name of this special maypole derives from “SuperMUC-NG”, the high-performance computer of the Leibniz Computer Centre (LRZ) in Garching near Munich, where many scientists from TUM compute research results. “The MaiMUC is an exhibit and exercise device in one,” explains Dr. Trinitis. “Students use it to learn parallel computing and develop their first own applications – for example for simulating electrostatic fields or flow movements.“ MaiMUC is also used to teach students the difference between high level programming and machine language. HPC in mini format: Each of the ten Rasperry Pis is equipped with four processors and its own LCD monitor.

Simulation on a Mini-Supercomputer

For SC2019, students developed a simulation of an aquarium for this computer. Octopuses regularly eject clouds of black and blue ink and wrap schools of fish in them. The views of the flow movements from different colours are assembled on the ten mini monitors like a living puzzle. For another demo application, the mini supercomputer has been extended with Intel Movidius USB sticks for machine learning. “MaiMUC is a small Linux cluster on which visualisations can also be programmed,” explains Trinitis. During SC19, MaiMUC will not only show scenes from an aquarium – the TUM team will add cameras to its mini-supercomputer and evaluate the preferences of visitors at the booth of the Bavarian Supercomputing Alliance: Artificial Intelligence and pattern detection as its best in a small scale.

Stop by the Bavarian Supercomputing booth and have a look (booth 2063).