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Using HPC

Obtaining an account

Unlike many other Information Technology services, HPC access is by request only. If you have not yet obtained an account, or your account has expired, please submit an account request.


You will need to be comfortable using a Unix/Linux command-line after logging in with SSH.

Logging in

The subcluster pages will tell you which "front-end" server to log in to, depending on which hardware you want to use. Generally, you must log in to the HPC systems from the campus network (at William & Mary or VIMS), via the university's VPN, or via a host that is on the campus network (i.e. the W&M bastion host) or you will see errors like Connection timed out or Network is unreachable. Chesapeake is behind VIMS' (more restrictive) firewall and from W&M must be accessed via the W&M bastion host or be logged into the main-campus cluster already.  Please see "Logging in to HPC systems" for more information.

Running calculations

The login servers are called "front-ends" because you do not run your calculations there, but rather on back-end "compute" servers that the front-end server provides access to. Access compute servers via the batch system, using the qsub command.

In order to use installed software, you must generally "load" it using Environment Modules, or you will see errors like Command not found. We have specific guidance for users of MATLAB, Python, and other software under our Tutorials and Software pages, as well as for users compiling software themselves.

If you need to work with or produce more than a few gigabytes of data, familiarize yourself with filesystems other than your home directory, and with preventing your disk usage from disrupting others' work.

When you are finished

The HPC systems cannot provide archival or long-term storage. If files no longer need to be available for work on the system, copy them off and delete them so that the space can be used for active projects. All files will be completely and permanently deleted after your HPC account expires, so if your files need to remain available for work on the system, keep track of when your account will expire, and before it expires either renew your account or contact us to arrange to have your files reassigned to another user.


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