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ARC-TS begins work on new “Great Lakes” cluster to replace Flux

By | Flux, Happenings, HPC, News

Advanced Research Computing – Technology Services (ARC-TS) is starting the process of creating a new, campus-wide computing cluster, “Great Lakes,” that will serve the broad needs of researchers across the University. Over time, Great Lakes will replace Flux, the shared research computing cluster that currently serves over 300 research projects and 2,500 active users.

“Researchers will see improved performance, flexibility and reliability associated with newly purchased hardware, as well as changes in policies that will result in greater efficiencies and ease of use,” said Brock Palen, director of ARC-TS.

The Great Lakes cluster will be available to all researchers on campus for simulation, modeling, machine learning, data science, genomics, and more. The platform will provide a balanced combination of computing power, I/O performance, storage capability, and accelerators.

ARC-TS is in the process of procuring the cluster. Only minimal interruption to ongoing research is expected. A “Beta” cluster will be available to help researchers learn the new system before Great Lakes is deployed in the first half of 2019.

The Flux cluster is approximately 8 years old, although many of the individual nodes are newer. One of the benefits of replacing the cluster is to create a more homogeneous platform.

Based on extensive input from faculty and other stakeholders across campus, the new Great Lakes cluster will be designed to deliver similar services and capabilities as Flux, including the ability to accommodate faculty purchases of hardware, access to GPUs and large-memory nodes, and improved support for emerging uses such as machine learning and genomics. The cluster will consist of approximately 20,000 cores.

For more information, contact hpc-support@umich.edu, and see arc-ts.umich.edu/systems-services/greatlakes, where updates to the project will be posted.

CSCAR provides walk-in support for new Flux users

By | Data, Educational, Flux, General Interest, HPC, News

CSCAR now provides walk-in support during business hours for students, faculty, and staff seeking assistance in getting started with the Flux computing environment.  CSCAR consultants can walk a researcher through the steps of applying for a Flux account, installing and configuring a terminal client, connecting to Flux, basic SSH and Unix command line, and obtaining or accessing allocations.  

In addition to walk-in support, CSCAR has several staff consultants with expertise in advanced and high performance computing who can work with clients on a variety of topics such as installing, optimizing, and profiling code.  

Support via email is also provided via hpc-support@umich.edu.  

CSCAR is located in room 3550 of the Rackham Building (915 E. Washington St.). Walk-in hours are from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except for noon – 1 p.m. on Tuesdays.

See the CSCAR web site (cscar.research.umich.edu) for more information.

ARC-TS Town Hall on Next Generation HPC Cluster

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The University of Michigan is beginning the process of building our next generation HPC platform, “Big House.”  Flux, the shared HPC cluster, has reached the end of its useful life. Flux has served us well for more than five years, but as we move forward with replacement, we want to make sure we’re meeting the needs of the research community.

ARC-TS will be holding a series of town halls to take input from faculty and researchers on the next HPC platform to be built by the University.  These town halls are open to anyone.

Your input will help to ensure that U-M is on course for providing HPC, so we hope you will make time to attend one of these sessions. If you cannot attend, please email hpc-support@umich.edu with any input you want to share.

ARC-TS Town Hall on Next Generation HPC Cluster

By |

The University of Michigan is beginning the process of building our next generation HPC platform, “Big House.”  Flux, the shared HPC cluster, has reached the end of its useful life. Flux has served us well for more than five years, but as we move forward with replacement, we want to make sure we’re meeting the needs of the research community.

ARC-TS will be holding a series of town halls to take input from faculty and researchers on the next HPC platform to be built by the University.  These town halls are open to anyone.

Your input will help to ensure that U-M is on course for providing HPC, so we hope you will make time to attend one of these sessions. If you cannot attend, please email hpc-support@umich.edu with any input you want to share.

ARC-TS Town Hall on Next Generation HPC Cluster

By |

The University of Michigan is beginning the process of building our next generation HPC platform, “Big House.”  Flux, the shared HPC cluster, has reached the end of its useful life. Flux has served us well for more than five years, but as we move forward with replacement, we want to make sure we’re meeting the needs of the research community.

ARC-TS will be holding a series of town halls to take input from faculty and researchers on the next HPC platform to be built by the University.  These town halls are open to anyone.

Your input will help to ensure that U-M is on course for providing HPC, so we hope you will make time to attend one of these sessions. If you cannot attend, please email hpc-support@umich.edu with any input you want to share.

ARC-TS Town Hall on Next Generation HPC Cluster

By |

The University of Michigan is beginning the process of building our next generation HPC platform, “Big House.”  Flux, the shared HPC cluster, has reached the end of its useful life. Flux has served us well for more than five years, but as we move forward with replacement, we want to make sure we’re meeting the needs of the research community.

ARC-TS will be holding a series of town halls to take input from faculty and researchers on the next HPC platform to be built by the University.  These town halls are open to anyone.

Your input will help to ensure that U-M is on course for providing HPC, so we hope you will make time to attend one of these sessions. If you cannot attend, please email hpc-support@umich.edu with any input you want to share.

ARC-TS seeks input on next generation HPC cluster

By | Events, Flux, General Interest, Happenings, HPC, News

The University of Michigan is beginning the process of building our next generation HPC platform, “Big House.”  Flux, the shared HPC cluster, has reached the end of its useful life. Flux has served us well for more than five years, but as we move forward with replacement, we want to make sure we’re meeting the needs of the research community.

ARC-TS will be holding a series of town halls to take input from faculty and researchers on the next HPC platform to be built by the University.  These town halls are open to anyone and will be held at:

  • College of Engineering, Johnson Room, Tuesday, June 20th, 9:00a – 10:00a
  • NCRC Bldg 300, Room 376, Wednesday, June 21st, 11:00a – 12:00p
  • LSA #2001, Tuesday, June 27th, 10:00a – 11:00a
  • 3114 Med Sci I, Wednesday, June 28th, 2:00p – 3:00p

Your input will help to ensure that U-M is on course for providing HPC, so we hope you will make time to attend one of these sessions. If you cannot attend, please email hpc-support@umich.edu with any input you want to share.

Research highlights: A new era in disaster research

By | General Interest, News, Research

By Bob Brustman, U-M Civil and Environmental Engineering Department

University of Michigan researchers have received a $2.5 million NSF grant to develop a computational model that is hoped to significantly advance natural hazards engineering and disaster science.

Natural hazards engineers study earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, landslides, and other disasters. They work to better understand the causes and effects of these phenomena on cities, homes, and infrastructure and develop strategies to save lives and mitigate damage.

Sherif El-Tawil

Sherif El-Tawil

Sherif El-Tawil, the lead PI for the project, is a structural engineer interested in how buildings behave, particularly in natural or man-made disasters. He’s developed 3D models and simulators that show precisely what happens in a building if a particular column or wall is destroyed during an extreme event.

On the project team are Jason McCormick, an earthquake engineering expert, Seymour Spence, who has expertise in wind engineering, and Benigno Aguirre, who is a social scientist interested in how people behave during catastrophes. The rest of the team includes. Vineet Kamat, Carol Menassa, and Atul Prakash, who will develop the simulation techniques used in the project.

The researchers of this newly funded project are creating a computational framework, using the Flux high performance computing cluster, that will define a set of standards for disaster researchers to use when constructing their models, enabling simulation models to work together.

El-Tawil explains: “Disaster research is a thriving area because disasters affect so many people worldwide and there is a lot we can do to reduce loss of life and damage to our civil infrastructure.”

“Lots of researchers study disasters, including engineers like me, but also social scientists, economists, doctors, and others. But all of the studies are essentially niche studies, belonging in the field of the researchers. Our objective is to develop computational standards so that social scientists, engineers, economists, doctors, first responders, and everyone else can produce simulators that interact together in a large, all-encompassing simulation of a disaster scenario. Think of it as the civilian equivalent of a war games simulator.”

el-tawil-nsf“Developing this common computational language will allow completely new studies to occur. Someone might look at the effects of an earthquake on a particular town and its citizens and then the subsequent effects of infectious diseases. With a common language, we can really examine the cascading and potentially out-of-control effects that occur during catastrophic events.”

Beyond developing the computational standards, they hope to create something like an app store through which researchers can share their simulation models and foster new collaborations and new areas of research. 

The grant also includes funding for a programmer housed at Advanced Research Computing (ARC) that will become a shared resource for the rest of campus. The Michigan Institute for Computational Discovery and Engineering (MICDE) provided support for the grant submission, and will continue to do so post-award.

The project brings together an experienced team with expertise in engineering, social science, and computer science. Six of the seven core members are from the University of Michigan and the seventh is from the University of Delaware.

Team members:

  • Benigno Aguirre, professor, Disaster Research Center, University of Delaware
  • Sherif El-Tawil, professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Michigan
  • Vineet Kamat, professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Michigan
  • Jason McCormick, associate professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Michigan
  • Carol Menassa, associate professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Michigan
  • Atul Prakash, professor, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, University of Michigan
  • Seymour Spence, assistant professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Michigan

Research highlights: Running climate models in the cloud

By | General Interest, News, Research

Xianglei Huang

Can cloud computing systems help make climate models easier to run? Assistant research scientist Xiuhong Chen and MICDE affiliated faculty Xianglei Huang, from Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering (CLASP), provide some answers to this question in an upcoming issue of Computers & Geoscience (Vol. 98, Jan. 2017, online publication link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cageo.2016.09.014).

Teaming up with co-authors Dr. Chaoyi Jiao and Prof. Mark Flanner, also in CLASP, as well as Brock Palen and Todd Raeker from U-M’s Advanced Research Computing – Technology Services (ARC-TS), they compared the reliability and efficiency of Amazon’s Web Service – Elastic Compute 2 (AWS EC2) with U-M’s Flux high performance computing (HPC) cluster in running the Community Earth System Model (CESM), a flagship climate model in the U.S. developed by the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

The team was able to run the CESM in parallel on an AWS EC2 virtual cluster with minimal packaging and code compiling effort, finding that the AWS EC2 can render a parallelization efficiency comparable to Flux, the U-M HPC cluster, when using up to 64 cores. When using more than 64 cores, the communication time between virtual EC2 nodes exceeded the communication time in Flux.

Until now, climate and earth systems simulations had relied on numerical model suites that run on thousands of dedicated HPC cores for hours, days or weeks, depending on the size and scale of each model. Although these HPC resources have the advantage of being supported and maintained by trained IT support staff, making them easier to use them, they are expensive and not readily available to every investigator that needs them.

Furthermore, the systems within reach are sometimes not large enough to run simulations at the desired scales. Commercial cloud systems, on the other hand, are cheaper and accessible to everyone, and have grown significantly in the last few years. One potential drawback of cloud systems is that the user needs to provide and install all the software and the IT expertise needed to run the simulations’ packages.

Chen and Huang’s work represents an important firstxiangleihuangpost2016 step in the use of cloud computing in large-scale climate simulations. Now, cloud computing systems can be considered a viable alternate option to traditional HPC clusters for computational research, potentially allowing researchers to leverage the computational power offered by a cloud environment.

This study was sponsored by the Amazon Climate Initiative through a grant awarded to Prof. Huang. The local simulation in U-M was made possible by a DoE grant awarded to Prof. Huang.

Top image: http://www.cesm.ucar.edu/

Video, slides available: “Advanced Research Computing at Michigan, An Overview,” Brock Palen, ARC-TS

By | General Interest, News

Video (http://myumi.ch/aAG7x) and slides (http://myumi.ch/aV7kz) are now available from Advanced Research Computing – Technology Services (ARC-TS) Associate Director Brock Palen’s presentation “Advanced Research Computing at Michigan, An Overview.”

Palen gave the talk on June 27, 2016, outlining the resources and services available from ARC-TS as well as from off-campus resource providers.