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UMBC High Performance Computing Facility
Usage Rules


The UMBC High Performance Computing Facility (HPCF) is a shared resource for research at UMBC that requires a high performance, particularly a parallel computer. The following rules intend to help make this facility effective for users and to ensure the maintenance of the facility. For the long-term benefit of the community of users, it is vital that all users comply with all aspects of the rules. There are several aspects to usage rules 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. These rules will be reviewed and updated periodically by the HPCF Governance Committee and in response to issues that come to our attention and in response to usage patterns. This webpage always shows the current usage rules in effect. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the rules, do not hesitate to contact the chair of the user committee, Dr. Matthias Gobbert; for technical questions write to preferrably; see the contact information on this webpage.

We will make a distriction between users and PIs (principal investigators). A user is anyone with an HPCF account. A PI is a UMBC faculty member who brings their research projects to HPCF and sponsors users to assist the PI on these projects. Users may be sponsored by one or more PIs, and PIs may be users themselves.

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. To this end, you are urged to study information on this webpage, read e-mails to the list of users, attend user meetings and participate actively in them, take classes that use the cluster in HPCF (for instance, Math 447 or 627), or ask questions using the support e-mail list It is always better to ask first and allow us to potentially coordinate usage. Remember that HPCF provides user support through RAs that can work with users to make the use of HPCF most effective. 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. The chair of the user committee acts here on behalf of the entire user community; see the contact information for details on 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. All accounts must be sponsored by a UMBC faculty member. Thus, for a student to get an account, two forms need to be submitted: one by the student with name of the sponsor and one by the sponsor listing the student's name. To maintain their access, users must follow all rules outlined on the HPCF webpage 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 PIs are required to have an on-going program of high performance computing research. PIs 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 periodic expansion of the cluster. Contributing this money gives these PIs priority access over other PIs to a proportion of the cluster, 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. Note that priority only influences newly submitted jobs, not ones already running. The following principles will guide the setup of the scheduler: Technical details of the scheduling system are discussed on the scheduling rules page. Once the principles on this page are understood, users should refer to that page and the how to run tutorial for further information on proper usage of the cluster.

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 or on-going charge-backs. 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.

Effectiveness of these Rules

The HPCF Governance Committee approved these usage rules and the associated implementation in the scheduling rules in Spring 2011. It is subject to periodic review and future changes.