If you read nothing else, read this. This page is an insanely simple guide to just barely get you going. The documentation on this page will not be complete. It will not tell you everything. It will tell you just enough to get started with using Research Computing Cluster, SPORC (Scheduled Processing on Research Computing). First off, email firstname.lastname@example.org if you encounter any issues with the cluster or if your account doesn't get created within one hour of completing the application process.
Research Computing also has a wiki site! It has much of the same information as the official site, but not the questionnaire, My Projects tab, or RIT branding aesthetic. You can consider the wiki site the definitive source of our documentation. It also has some of our more technical information, like what SPORC is made of and its testing results.
If you are unfamiliar with the topic of research computing or want to know more about what we offer check out our Services and About page.
Apply for a User Account
In order to access SPORC and begin using Research Computing's resources you must first apply for a Research Computing User account. You will need to login in with you RIT username and password, and an account will be made for you. If one hour passes without receiving an account creation email, email us.
Research Computing aims to know the researchers, their research, and their computational and research computing needs. After creating an account make sure to fill out this questionnaire so we can provide what you need for your project. After completion, you response can be found under My Projects. Your submissions can be edited there as well.
Logging in to Research Computing
Now that you have an account, you are ready to get onto our cluster, SPORC. To login SPORC or other Research Computing provided resources, you will need to use either SSH or FastX. The first time you access SPORC, I would recommend you do it through SSH. FastX is useful for when you need a graphical interface, such as when you are visualizing data or analyzing graphs. Remember: the host name for SPORC is sporcsubmit.rc.rit.edu.
Whether you logged in with SSH or FastX, it is important that you know how to navigate the terminal. Through the terminal you will do most of the work for your research with Research Computing, including creating and editing files, loading software, and running jobs. If you have never used a terminal before, start by learning some Basic Unix Commands and how to use a Text Editor.
Linux and Mac users have a built-in commands for transferring files over SSH, but there are applications available for every platform to do the same thing. We currently provide documentation for using FileZilla and in the future we will be using Globus. However, these are not your only options; if you are logged onto a computer with a graphical interface via FastX you can use web applications like Dropbox.
Slurm is the software we use to manage your research computation on SPORC. You tell it what resources you need (read this if you need help determining what you need), and it dispatches your work to one or more computers that make up SPORC, and then the program runs to completion. When your work is done, Slurm frees up those resources so that someone else can use them. Below we have outlined two ways to submit jobs. Before writing and submitting your first job, become familiar with how to view your jobs and the resources available on SPORC.
This is the preferred method for creating work for the Research Computing Cluster. An SBATCH file consists of some commands telling Slurm what resources you need, followed by the Linux commands necessary to perform the requested work. Here you can tell Slurm how many cores (CPU) you need and how much memory (RAM), as well as how long to let your job run before it has taken too long. This file can then be run using the "sbatch" command to submit it to the Slurm Queue.
For example SBATCH files, please run "grab-examples" from the command line. This will create the folder "slurm-examples" in your Home Directory and fill it will some scripts showing you the basic usage of the cluster. NOTE: Since the examples were made, we have changed the name of our partitions (groups of certain computers). Instead of #SBATCH-p work -n 4 use #SBATCH -p tier3 -n 4.
Using Interactive Mode (sinteractive)
If you need user interaction or are only running something once then run `sinteractive`. This will ask you for the resources you require and then connect you to the scheduled node. If you don't know what that entails, just try it. Be sure to exit from your sinteractive session by running exit when you're done, otherwise you're a terrible person for requesting resources you aren't using. For the full process, see our documentation.
Try to avoid requesting more resources than you need on the cluster. Any resources that you tell Slurm you're going to use cannot be offered to other users regardless of whether you actually use those resources. If you fudge your numbers too much, you're eligible to have your allocation terminated by admins.
"sinteractive" is not the best way to run jobs by any means. For any sort of repeatable workflow, you will need to write SBATCH jobs.
Your research more than likely needs software, whether it's for creating, analyzing, or visualizing data. So before you start researching, you need to learn how to use modules. Modules are the way Research Computing provides a lot of software without it all conflicting with each other. If you need it, we might have it. If we don't have it email us.
If you need help using any Research Computing resources, don't hesitate to stop by our lab. Our infrastructure is changing all the time and our documentation may not always be up-to-date. We're more than happy to work with you to accommodate your research needs.