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ITX Group discusses computing resources in and outside of CHPC

By Jesse Drake

Anita Orendt, CHPC

The recent IT Exchange (ITX) group meeting, held September 28, 2016 at the Student Union, focused on the variety of resources available from UIT's Center for High Performance Computing (CHPC), in addition to regional and national resources for research computing support.

CHPC resources are available to qualified faculty, students (under faculty supervision), and researchers from the University of Utah and they are exploring partnerships with other Utah institutions of higher education.

"The resources that CHPC provides are those that go beyond your local resources, especially if you have to use a lot of cores, or a lot of compute power or storage for a single job," said Anita Orendt, CHPC's Assistant Director for Research Consulting and Faculty Engagement.

Orendt gave an overview of Kingspeak, the newest of CHPC's three general clusters. Kingspeak has 335-plus nodes, each with between 32GB and 1TB of memory. She said that more than 30 different research groups currently own nodes on the cluster, and while these nodes owned by individual research groups, if idle they are available to general users with a CHPC account.

CHPC also supports two virtual machine (VM) farms, one in the general environment and one in protected environment. Protected environments are used for data mining and analysis of Protected Health Information (PHI).

CHPC Director Tom Cheatham noted that the challenge is how much customization is required.

"Giving you a VM is easy. Customizing it with [database management systems] is really hard and people intensive, so we make our best effort for each case as resources allow," Cheatham said.

Affiliated computing resources outside of CHPC

The College of Engineering (COE) maintains the CADE (Computer Aided Design and Engineering) Lab. Within CADE are multiple student computing labs, but Orendt said of interest to the general campus are licensed software for classes and research. COE’s engineering-related software is being leveraged for use on CHPC resources.

DIGIT lab in the Department of Geography is the University’s Geographical Information Center (GIS). DIGIT supports geographic information analysis and application development for student and faculty research, in and outside of the department. The lab also offers licenses for ESRI software products, including cloud-based mapping platform ArcGIS.

SCI collaborates on projects that involve data visualization, modeling and image analytics. SCI has application areas in medical image analysis, biological image processing, defense, environmental monitoring, and oil and gas.

CloudLab is a free platform on which researchers can build their own clouds and experiment with cloud-based architectures and the new applications that they enable. The University of Utah was an early adopter of CloudLab, creating its first site in November 2014.

XSEDE supports 16 supercomputers and high-end visualization and data analysis resource centers across the country.

Orendt said there are no charges to use XSEDE resources, but there is a competitive allocation process. The U has a campus allocation. Email Orendt to request an account provision.

Open Science Grid is a resource for high-throughput, not high-performance, computing – where scientific problems are solved by breaking them down into a large number of small, low-priority, individual jobs that can run independently.

Ultimately, if you’re debating whether a project fits a particular resource, email CHPC support at issues@chpc.utah.edu, or call (801) 585-3791.

"Reaching out to us never hurts," said CHPC Systems Administrator David Heidorn. "I've seen it happen quite a few times where someone reaches out to us not thinking that their project falls in line with what we offer, and it turns out we can accommodate them in some way. We try to be everything we can in terms of research support."

Last Updated: 5/30/17