In a research environment, High Performance Computing (HPC) is the use of hardware, software, tools and programming techniques to accelerate research computation, which in turn will enable the execution of large cutting-edge research simulation that accelerates new discoveries. At the National University of Singapore, a combination of centralized and distributed approaches has been adopted in the provisioning and support of High Performance Computing (HPC) for research computation. In this hybrid environment, some departments and research groups are providing local resources to support their users, whereas the HPC team at the NUS Computer Centre is focusing on providing central HPC resources and services to support all staff and student researchers across campus.
Central HPC support at NUS Computer Centre began in 1989 when a shared vector supercomputer was made available to the NUS research community. Since then, a variety of HPC systems and technologies had been introduced to meet wide range of research computing requirements, which include cc-NUMA multi-processor system, Linux and Windows based cluster parallel computing system, remote visualization system, parallel file system, Grid computing resources, and more recently the GPU system and the HPC private cloud technology.
In a continuing effort to improve ease of use and to enable anytime anywhere access to HPC resources, a number of operational initiatives had been carried out in the past few years. For example, a HPC Portal had been developed to enable browser based access to the compute and visualization resources and services. The Unix and Linux authentication and access control had been integrated with the central Active Directory to enable single account and password to access both research and non-research services and resources. Integration of user accounts with central Active Directory greatly reduced the efforts to manage local accounts on the large number of compute nodes in the clusters. In addition, user home directory had been integrated with the central file system to allow seamless access of file and data across laptop, desktop and server, enhancing the ease of use of HPC resources further.
To access the central HPC resources and services, NUS staff and student can register online through the HPC Portal. The following figures provide an overall view of the central resources and services provided by NUS Computer Centre today:
Figure 1: HPC Hardware and Services
Figure 2: Commercial and Open Source Software Supported