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UMBC High Performance Computing Facility
Usage Policies


This facility is a shared resource for research at UMBC that requires a high-performance, particularly a parallel computer. The following policies intend to help make this facility effective for users and to ensure the maintenance of the facility. For the long-term benefit of everybody, it is vital that all users comply with all aspects of the policies. These policies are subject to active development at this time, in response to issues that come to our attention and in response to usage patterns. This webpage always shows the current usage policies in effect. There are several aspects to usage policies on a large computers that is shared by many users and additional aspects for a facility that relies on active support from its users for its maintenance. Therefore, the following items are grouped by their purpose. If you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to contact the chair of the user committee; see the contact information.

Good User Behaviors

On a day-to-day basis, it is imperative that users run their code in a responsible fashion, so as not to hinder or damage other users' code. To this end, the following rules must be followed at all times. To comply with many of these common sense rules might require you to understand something about parallel computing or about the setup of the hardware and software of the machine. Do not hesitate to contact the chair of the user committee as point-of-contact to ask questions or to report potential problems. IMPORTANT NOTE: If users are observed to violate any of the above rules or are behaving in any way that impacts other users' ability to use the resource, the chair of the user committee has the right to terminate the users jobs and/or to suspend the user's account. Ordinarily, we will try to make contact with the user first to discuss what is going on and to try to work with the user, but if other users are impacted, the account can be suspended first. Decisions by the chair of the user committee are subject to review by the user committee; see the contact information for a list of the members of the user committee.

Access to the Facility

This facility is a shared resource for research at UMBC that requires a high-performance parallel computer. To get an account to this facility, please submit an account request form completely filled out. To maintain access, users must follow all policies outlined in the following at all times. To ensure the success of this facility in the long run, it is vital that there be demonstrated research results created on this machine, hence the initial users should have an on-going program of high-performance computing research. As usage patterns develop, the machine is fully set up and grows in number of nodes, we anticipate that the number of accounts can be increased. Do not hesitate to contact the chair of the user committee at any time to get an understanding of the current usage levels of the machine and whether space is available or not. Users are invited to contribute direct funding to the facility at $5,000 per node or a multiple thereof. Contributions from faculty in this way will be bundled and used for a hardware purchase ordinarily once a year. Contributing this money gives these users priority access over other users to that number of nodes, in the sense explained in the following. The access to compute nodes for users will be managed by a job scheduling software, called scheduler, that reserves compute nodes for users. The scheduler reserves compute nodes based on the availability of resources in combination with a user's priority. The following principles will guide the setup of the scheduler: It is noted explicitly that the above usage policies are subject to modification, if it turns out that it is impossible to implement certain features in the scheduling software. In any case, it is hoped that the number of users will be reasonably small initially and be in frequent communication with each other to coordinate the scheduling of jobs in a cooperative way, until usage patters become clear and the setup of the scheduler is improved. This is stated in the spirit that setting up the scheduler is in fact not the initial priority for the administration of the cluster; rather, proper testing, debugging, benchmarking, optimizing performance of the hardware and software, and initial results are more important priorities for the first months of the machine.

Obligation of All Users to Help Maintain the Facility

This machine has been created by financial and ideal support both from faculty and from UMBC. To ensure the long-term existence of this facility, all users have an obligation to help actively to sustain it. This obligation has financial and scientific (non-financial) aspects, and support for both aspects is required from all users to maintain their accounts on the systems. The requirements includes the following methods of support: The philosophy adopted here is one of granting an account on this facility first and then requiring help in maintaining it, as opposed to requiring up-front payment to use the facility. This approach allows researchers to start using the facility immediately at any point in the year and to obtain initial research results using it. In turn and using these results, it is then necessary for users to actively demonstrate results as well as to search for funding to sustain the facility.