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SCINet High-Performance Computer Systems

Ceres HPC Cluster | Ames, IA

Ceres is an ARS-owned high-performance computing (HPC) cluster connected to SCINet and located in Ames, IA. The original cluster build included 72 regular compute nodes (65 available compute nodes, 2 data transfer nodes, a login node, and service nodes), 5 high memory nodes, and a two Petabyte file system for a range of scientific applications. During 2018, the cluster was enlarged by 20 regular, 5 high-memory, and 1 GPU “priority” nodes, all funded by individual Research Units. In December 2019, the Ceres cluster was expanded further by 64 regular-, 2 mid-, and 5 high-memory nodes. This capacity expansion included 36 regular-, 2 mid-, and 3 high-memory “priority” nodes funded by Research Units. “Priority” nodes are available to all ARS users when not in use by their funders. The ‘Technical Overview’ in the Ceres User Manual describes the number of logical cores and available memory for each type of node.

All nodes run on Linux Centos and compute jobs are managed by the SLURM scheduler. The system is configured with a login node, which users access to submit compute jobs to the SLURM scheduler.

Compute jobs are run on functional groups of nodes called partitions or queues. Each partition has different capabilities (e.g. regular memory versus high memory nodes) and resource restrictions (e.g. time limits on jobs). There are 10+ different partitions on Ceres to which users can submit compute jobs. For details on the current partitions/queues, see ‘Partitions or Queues’ in the Ceres User Manual.

Members of the SCINet Virtual Research Support Core (VRSC) in Ames, IA are the operational administrators of the Ceres HPC cluster. The VRSC maintains the system hardware, software, and provides user support. To learn more about the VRSC, visit the VRSC page. For a current list of command-line software managed by the VRSC through the module system, see the Software Overview.

All Ceres users (ARS and formal collaborators) receive 10GB of storage in their /home directory and can request additional storage up to 1TB (or more if justified) in a /project directory.

Additional technical information about the Ceres HPC cluster can be found in the Ceres User Manual.

New users may also want to reference the Ceres Quick Start Guide.

Many additional user guides are available under the “User Guides” dropdown list.

Other helpful links:
Apply for a SCINet Account to access Ceres
SCINet/Ceres FAQs
Request Project Storage
Request Software

Starkville, MS HPC Cluster

ARS researchers will also have access to a Cray system in Starkville, MS through an agreement with the Mississippi State University to supplement Agency scientific computing capacity. Installation and testing of the cluster will begin in December 2019.

Beltsville, MD HPC Cluster

A second Agency-owned HPC cluster is planned for Beltsville, MD and will consist of a blend of compute nodes and multi-tier storage.

SCINet AWS Augmentation

In addition to the ARS in-house compute infrastructure, Amazon Web Services (AWS) are available to augment the HPC capability of Ceres with cloud resources.
Request SCINet AWS