High Performance Computing (HPC) is the use of supercomputers and parallel software to create complex models and simulations.
We provide HPC support, expertise and infrastructure to our research community.
Enabling HPC for academics
High performance computing (HPC) facilities are designed to save you valuable processing time with access to high-speed processors, interconnect and software applications. HPC systems allow academics to build complex computational models and simulations in days rather than weeks.
There are a number of options available, including RMIT’s HPC facility, ‘Trifid’, managed by the V3 Alliance (formerly the Victorian Partnerships for Advanced Computing, VPAC). The greater speed of HPC systems like Trifid can increase academics' capabilities ten-fold, compared to the previous in-house supercomputing cluster, enabling them to provide data which may lead to significant breakthroughs.
RMIT University is also a partner in the National Computational Infrastructure (NCI) located at the Australian National University Campus in Canberra. The NCI is Australia’s national peak supercomputing facility. This partnership allows RMIT researchers access to a certain compute and storage capacity at the NCI, outside of the so-called National Merit Allocation Scheme, which is funded by the Australian Research Council for eligible grant holders. Through the National Merit Allocation Scheme, RMIT researchers also have access to other national facilities such as the Victorian Life Sciences Computation Initiative.
Enabling cloud for academics
Cloud-based technologies allow us to grow steadily as an organisation and extend our research activity beyond the campus. The benefits of enabling cloud services include:
- storing data or other related cloud services
- a central web interface to manipulate, view and analyse data
- streamlined access to powerful HPC-in-cloud capabilities
- a behind-the-scenes scheduler which automates efficiencies in the areas of security and execution time
- running certain limited HPC jobs on tens or hundreds of cloud servers without the steep learning curve for HPC software and systems programming
- freeing up academics' time for more creative input into a project.
RMIT is a partner in the National eResearch Collaboration Tools and Resources (NeCTAR) initiative, an NCRIS funded project which has established a national research cloud including a fraction of highly-performance servers capable of running certain data-centric and moderately low-communication jobs at the speed of supercomputers by engaging tens or hundreds of servers in the same job. This is suitable for certain biophysics applications and highly parametric modeling and simulation tasks, for example. Through the NeCTAR user access portal provided to all Australian researchers, RMIT researchers gain access to NeCTAR services however without the limitations of national merit allocation.
With NeCTAR funding, the eResearch team has also been able to maintain expertise and conduct a project enabling academics to schedule compute runs on external clusters (such as Trifid and NCI) or on external cloud servers (such as NeCTAR or Amazon) to automatically schedule highly parallel jobs and retrieve or store their results within the MyTardis storage facility. This enables users to run complex computing tasks without the need to use a command line or manually log into compute nodes.
In order to facilitate cloud computing, in this NeCTAR project, RMIT has developed two software interfaces – Smart Connector and Smart Scheduler.
Smart Connector links an academic's desktop application to a cloud or HPC facility. It emphasises cloud and HPC access abstraction, allowing it to talk to cloud and HPC services and categories of services, such as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS), on behalf of the academic.
Smart Scheduler provides a switch for the Smart Connector to a suitable cloud provider or HPC facility, such as NeCTAR cloud, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Trifid (at V3 on RMIT Campus) or National Computing Infrastructure (NCI).
When used together the Smart Connector can link you to a cloud provider or a HPC facility and the Smart Scheduler can recognise different types of service providers.
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