In addition to providing free access to shared compute resources, the Research Computing Center enables researchers to purchase dedicated compute and storage resources through the Cluster Partnership Program. Via this program, faculty can augment the Midway compute cluster with high-performance, professionally managed compute nodes and storage dedicated exclusively to their research group.
RCC works with top-tier vendors to deliver an expandable computing environment to the University of Chicago community. This infrastructure includes core hardware, software, administrative, technical, and user support that can be used by researchers to convert funding into research computing resources in a highly efficient and cost-effective manner.
Through the Cluster Partnership Program, RCC will support you in all phases of the technology lifecycle including:
- Working with you to determine what type(s) of compute resources best meet your research needs
- Negotiating competitive prices from a range of top-tier vendors using bulk purchasing prices
- Hosting your dedicated compute resources in a secure on-campus data center
- On-going support, updates, and maintenance by a team of professional system and network administrators
RCC will configure any resources purchased through the Cluster Partnership Program to meet your needs. This includes limiting access to your resources to groups of users you specify.
By locating your dedicated hardware inside of RCC’s computing environment, you will be able to leverage RCC’s existing network and interconnect, storage, software, and secure data center. Additionally, you can have peace of mind knowing that your compute resources and storage are being hosted and maintained securely by professional staff.
Through the Cluster Partnership Program, researchers can purchase dedicated computing resources to augment any of the following pools of Midway resources:
- Tightly-coupled nodes: Ideal for distributed and data-intensive computing, these compute servers are equipped with an InfiniBand interconnect device capable of extremely low latency, high-bandwidth inter-node communication.
- High-throughput nodes: Ideal for large batch jobs that do not require inter-node communication or extremely fast access to storage. These nodes are identical to the tightly-coupled nodes but without the high-speed InfiniBand interconnect.
- Large Memory nodes: Ideal for data-intensive computations requiring extremely large amounts of RAM. Configurations are available ranging from 128 GB up to 1.5 TB of RAM.
- GPU Computing nodes: Compute servers equipped with one or more NVIDIA General Purpose GPU devices, ideal for massively parallel computing through GPU-aware software.
The RCC is continually adding new node configurations to its list of Midway building blocks. Contact RCC to determine what computing hardware will best satisfy your needs.
RCC offers storage space by the terabyte, but not all terabytes are equal. Because every byte purchased is snapshotted multiple times a day and backed up to tape nightly, the value of each terabyte purchased is effectively multiplied many times over. Your data is replicated many times both locally and remotely, so if a disk or even an entire data center fails, your data remains safe. RCC provides professional management of your storage, so if a question or problem arises, knowledgeable staff is available and waiting to help.
The RCC currently offers two storage solutions: GPFS ("General Parallel File System") and CDS ("cost-effective storage"). GPFS is the most reliable and most commonly used storage option. CDS is a slower-access, less expensive option that is suitable for data that are not in active use. To get more details on costs for buying dedicated computing hardware and storage through the CPP, please contact us.
If you have unique requirements for compute infrastructure or if you have existing compute hardware, in certain cases RCC can host and maintain your independently purchased compute resources. Through RCC’s Special Cluster Partnership Program we will work with you to integrate your hardware into RCC’s Midway compute environment.
While RCC has worked to develop a turn-key process for purchasing dedicated compute resources, all Cluster Partnership Program purchases are handled on a case-by-case basis. If you are interested in purchasing or integrating dedicated hardware through RCC’s Cluster Partnership Program, contact us and a computational scientist will work with you to secure appropriate hardware and configurations to meet your needs.