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Introduction to High-Performance Computing: Cheatsheets for Queuing System Quick Reference

Key Points

Why Use a Cluster?
  • High Performance Computing (HPC) typically involves connecting to very large computing systems elsewhere in the world.

  • These other systems can be used to do work that would either be impossible or much slower or smaller systems.

  • The standard method of interacting with such systems is via a command line interface called Bash.

Working on a remote HPC system
  • An HPC system is a set of networked machines.

  • HPC systems typically provide login nodes and a set of worker nodes.

  • The resources found on independent (worker) nodes can vary in volume and type (amount of RAM, processor architecture, availability of network mounted file systems, etc.).

  • Files saved on one node are available on all nodes.

Scheduling jobs
  • The scheduler handles how compute resources are shared between users.

  • Everything you do should be run through the scheduler.

  • A job is just a shell script.

  • If in doubt, request more resources than you will need.

Accessing software
  • Load software with module load softwareName

  • Unload software with module purge

  • The module system handles software versioning and package conflicts for you automatically.

  • You can edit your .bashrc file to automatically load a software package.

Transferring files
  • wget downloads a file from the internet.

  • scp transfer files to and from your computer.

  • You can use an SFTP client like FileZilla to transfer files through a GUI.

Using resources effectively
  • The smaller your job, the faster it will schedule.

Using shared resources responsibly
  • Be careful how you use the login node.

  • Your data on the system is your responsibility.

  • Plan and test large data transfers.

  • It is often best to convert many files to a single archive file before transferring.

  • Again, don’t run stuff on the login node.

  • Don’t be a bad person and run stuff on the login node.

Cheatsheets for Queuing System Quick Reference


The following list captures terms that need to be added to this glossary. This is a great way to contribute.

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Beowulf cluster
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Central processing unit
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Cloud computing
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a collection of computers configured to enable collaboration on a common task by means of purposefully configured hardware (e.g., networking) and software (e.g. workload management).
Distributed memory
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Grid computing
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High availability computing
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[High performance computing](
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Shared memory
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… “a major scientific instrument” …
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Grid Engine
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Parallel File System
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