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Introduction

With a grant provided by Research and Graduate Programs, Cal Poly recently acquired a High Performance Computation Cluster (HPCC) for research use by all Cal Poly faculty. This HPCC or "Grid" provides users an environment that can meet research computational needs without having to manage a complex computing system. The goal of this project is to determine if a campus sponsored HPCC can meet those needs.

 

What is a Grid and why would I want to use it?

Who can use this environment?

How do I get access?

What makes up this environment?

 

What is a Grid and why would I want to use it?

A grid (or high performance computing cluster) is a network of resources, such as CPUs, applications, data and storage, readily available for the researcher to use without worries of where those resources are located or what operating systems are used.

By putting the resources to work on various parts of the problem in parallel, the amount of work accomplished per unit time can increase tremendously. Not all tasks can run profitably (faster) in a grid environment. Information Technology Services (ITS) can work with you to determine if this environment can benefit your project.

Faculty with projects using the commercial software packages installed on the cluster, or their own programming code written to take advantage of a clustered environment, can benefit from this environment. Modifying programming code to work in a clustered environment could also provide an opportunity for Senior Project or Graduate work.

Who can use this environment?

This environment is available to any Cal Poly faculty member who has a need for research computational resources. ITS will work with you to determine if the software and storage needed for your project can be supported in this environment. If so, the cluster is scheduled for your use.

How do I get access?

  1. Fill out the Application Form
  2. ITS support staff will contact you within a few business days to discuss your needs and ensure the cluster can meet your goals.

What makes up this environment?

Hardware:

  • IBM eServer BladeCenter
  • 10 HS20 nodes
  • Each node contains two 32 bit Intel Xeon chips and 2GB of memory
  • 3 Terabytes of storage
Operating System: RedHat Linux - Enterprise

Commercial Software Installed:

Resource Manager: Open PBS

Resource Scheduler: Maui

Example Uses

This environment is suitable to all users but best performance is obtained by jobs that can run concurrently or were specially designed to run on a cluster environment. Examine the task(s) within your program. Try to determine what can be done in parallel and what must be done serially.

By far the best results are achieved by those who are prepared to utilize this new service with an open mind, and are willing to share with other faculty members not only what was learned from a successful run, but also lessons from failures.

A common task running on a cluster "will not" run any faster unless it was designed and written to run on a parallel environment using Message Passage Interface (MPI). When working on the cluster, please be courteous to other users by limiting all jobs to run for a maximum of 8 hours.

All resources mentioned above are managed by a software manager (Open PBS), and users are ensured a fair share of the system by a scheduler (Maui). Click on the link for more information on Open PBS or Maui.

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Last Update: 04/13/2006


ITS/Grid Computing
California Polytechnic State University
San Luis Obispo, Ca 93407
jburdett@calpoly.edu