About Our Approach
CHTC’s specialty is High Throughput Computing (HTC), which involves breaking up a single large computational task into many smaller tasks for the fastest overall turnaround. Most of our users find HTC to be invaluable in accelerating their computational work and thus their research. We support thousands of multi-core computers and use the task scheduling software called HTCondor, developed right here in Madison, to run thousands of independent jobs on as many total processors as possible. These computers, or “machines”, are distributed across several collections that we call pools (similar to “clusters”). Because machines are assigned to individual jobs, many users can be running jobs on a pool at any given time, all managed by HTCondor.
The diagram below shows some of the largest pools on campus and also shows our connection to the US-wide Open Science Grid where UW computing work can “backfill” available computers all over the country. The number under each resource name shows an approximate number of computing hours available to campus researchers for a typical week in Fall 2013. As demonstrated in the diagram, we help users to submit their work not only to our CHTC-owned machines, but to improve their throughput even further by seamlessly accessing as many available computers as possible, all over campus AND all over the country.
The vast majority of the computational work that campus researcher have is HTC, though we are happy to support researchers with a variety of beyond-the-desktop needs, including tightly-coupled computations (e.g. MPI), high-memory work (e.g. metagenomics), and specialized hardware like GPUs.
What kinds of applications run best in the CHTC?
“Pleasantly parallel” tasks, where many jobs can run independently, is what works best in the CHTC, and is what we can offer the greatest computational capacity for. Analyzing thousands of images, inferring statistical significance of hundreds of thousands of samples, optimizing an electric motor design with millions of constraints, aligning genomes, and performing deep linguistic search on a 30 TB sample of the internet are a few of the applications that campus researchers run every day in the CHTC. If you are not sure if your application is a good fit for CHTC resources, get in touch and we will be happy to help you figure it out.
Within a single compute system, we also support GPUs, high-memory servers, and specialized hardware owned by individual research groups. For tightly-coupled computations (e.g. MPI and similar programmed parallelization), our resources include an HPC Cluster, with faster inter-node networking.
How to Get Access
While you may be excited at the prospect of harnessing 100,000 compute hours a day for your research, the most valuable thing we offer is, well, us. We have a small, yet dedicated team of professionals who eat, breathe and sleep distributed computing. Request an account, and one of our dedicated Research Computing Facilitators will follow up to provide specific recommendations to accelerate YOUR science.