Compute Servers and Clusters

Service Description

ITS Research Computing manages a variety of servers and compute clusters to help meet the computational needs for Carolina researchers. A wide variety of commercial and open source software applications is provided for use, as are multiple compilers and parallel operating environments. These systems, located in and administered by Research Computing, currently include:

i. Topsail cluster – Linux based, >4000 cores, IB interconnect, better suited for parallel than serial work. 12 GB/memory per 8 core blade.

ii. Emerald cluster – Linux based, >900 cores, GigE interconnect, lots of commercial software, some large memory nodes, good for serial or small parallel runs. Using the patron or “condo” model, faculty can purchase additional compute nodes for this environment, with priority use of those nodes but making the nodes available to the community when they would otherwise be idle.

iii. Kure cluster – Soon to be production; available now for friendly users. More than 450 cores, 4xQDR IB interconnect, all nodes have 8 cores and a minimum of 48 GB of memory. Good for parallel jobs and large memory jobs. Using the patron or “condo” model, faculty can purchase additional compute nodes for this environment, with priority use of those nodes but making the nodes available to the community when they would otherwise be idle.

iv. Windows-based computing through the VCL (Virtual Computing Lab), providing “any time, anywhere” access to a wide range of Windows-based research software applications. Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 environments are available.

v. Linux sandbox environments– also based on the VCL (Virtual Computing Lab), providing “any time, anywhere” access to base Linux environments upon which you can build a customized Linux environment for your research needs. Red Hat, CentOS, and Ubuntu base environments are available.

Hours of Availability

Services are available 24x7 other than during planned maintenance periods or unanticipated emergencies (such as loss of commercial power to the data center). As the compute clusters comprise large numbers of pieces of commodity hardware, at any point in time, an individual server may not be available. Failures of individual servers outside business hours will be investigated during the next business day. However, other servers typically will be available.

Customer

Faculty, postdocs, staff and graduate students engaged in research. Undergraduate accounts for a course or specific research project may be provided with a supporting letter from a faculty member.

Customer Responsibilities

Responsible use of the resources. Customers who need to work with sensitive data should contact us to discuss their needs and requirements prior to using these services. Customers wishing to participate in the patron (condo-sytle) program to obtain guaranteed dedicated access to resources should contact Research Computing at least two months in advance of the time when they will need the computing resources.

How Do We Charge

Currently, there are no charges associated with accounts or usage. Resources are shared by all users and scheduling of jobs is handled through a commercial product, LSF, using a fair share algorithm. However, faculty wishing to have dedicate access to compute resources on Kure and Emerald can become “patron” of these clusters, purchasing compute blades to which they and their teams have priority access. When not in use by a patron team, those resources are available for others to use. In the future, there will be a base allocation of free CPU hours to which any customer is entitled; researchers needing very large numbers of CPU hours will be charged. The details for and charges associated with that will be worked out during FY2010-2011.

How To Request More Information On Or Request The Service

For additional information about computing resources, please email research@unc.edu or contact Michael Barker, michael_barker@unc.edu, 962-4314.  Faculty, staff and graduate students can obtain accounts on the Emerald cluster by subscribing to the service at https://onyen.unc.edu/cgi-bin/unc_id/services.  Account requests for Kure and Topsail can be sent via email to research@unc.edu . Please include your name; a contact telephone number on campus; Onyen; department with which you are affiliated; faculty member with whom you are working (if you are not faculty); and a short description of the type of work you will be doing and the applications you anticipate using.