Using Flux in a College of Engineering Course
To use Flux in a College of Engineering course, the course instructor needs to:
- Have course assignments that are suitable for the use of Flux.
- Decide on a Flux allocation for the course.
- Identify an appropriate funding source, likely your department’s course funding, for the use of Flux in the course.
- Establish a Flux project for the course's use and provide the Flux operators with a list of students enrolled in the course.
Flux is an HPC Linux-based cluster intended to support parallel and other applications that are not suitable for departmental or individual computers. Each Flux compute node comprises multiple CPU cores with at least 4 GB of RAM per core; Flux has over 8,000 cores. All compute nodes are interconnected with InfiniBand networking.
Computing jobs on Flux are managed through a combination of the Moab Scheduler, the Terascale Open-Source Resource and QUEue Manager (Torque) and the GOLD Allocation Manager from Adaptive Computing.
Flux Configuration has a detailed description of the Flux cluster.
The system also includes high speed scratch storage using the Lustre parallel network file system. The storage is also connected with InfiniBand. This file system allows researchers to store data on a short term basis to perform calculations; it is not for long term data storage or archival purposes.
All Flux nodes are interconnected with quad-data rate InfiniBand, delivering up to 40 Gbps of bandwidth and less than 5μs latency.
Flux is connected to the University of Michigan’s campus backbone to provide access to student and researcher desktops as well as other campus computing and storage systems. The campus backbone provides connectivity to the commodity Internet and the research networks Internet2 and MiLR.
The Flux cluster includes a comprehensive software suite of commercial and open source research software, including major software compilers, and many of the common research specific applications such as Mathematica, Matlab, R and Stata.
Data Center Facilities
Flux is housed in a HP Performance Optimized Data Center (POD) 240a that is professionally run by Information and Technology Services. The HP POD has batteries to provide power sufficient for a graceful shutdown of Flux. The high cooling efficiency of the POD reduces the over-all cost for Flux allocations.
Flux computing services are provided through a collaboration of University of Michigan units: The Office of Research Cyberinfrastructure (in the Office of the VP of Research and the Provost’s Office), the College of Engineering's central IT group, CAEN, and Information and Technology Services, as well as the computing groups in schools and colleges at the University.
The following steps will help you use Flux in a College of Engineering Course
- Determine the suitability of Flux for use in your course by considering whether a large computing resource is needed by the students enrolled in the class, the concepts taught in the course benefit from a high performance computing component, or there is a parallel programming aspect to the course materials. Flux supports long-running, unattended jobs better than desktop computers in CAEN student computer labs.
- Determine the size of the Flux allocation you need for the course by reviewing Flux Sizing.
- Determine the funding for the course allocation; departmental accounts should provide funding for the course's use. Contact your department's Unit Administrator for more information. If departmental instructional accounts do not have sufficient funding available, the College may be able to provide additional funds. For more information please contact Deborah Mero, Executive Director of RPM in the College of Engineering.
- Request a Flux project by emailing the size and duration of the allocation, short code, and student list for the course to email@example.com.
- Ask the enrolled students to request Flux user accounts (for those that don't have them).
- Schedule training with the Flux user support staff in the College if you would like assistance with Flux setup for courses or an introductory session on how to use Flux for the students in the course. The course instructor or GSI are responsible for integrating Flux use and course material. To request training with the Flux user support staff, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Inform the students and plan for the end of the course allocation at the end of the term. Flux accounts remain active while they have access to an allocation. Students whose only Flux allocation is a course allocation should copy data from Flux to a more permanent location. Their Flux account, including their Flux file storage, will be deleted after the following term if it remains unassociated with a Flux allocation. Many students may continue to use Flux based on what they learned in your course. However, their accounts will have to be associated with an active Flux allocation to be usable.