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iCER Director's Note

Dear MSU Community, 

Things are quickly moving forward on this year’s new machine purchase. We’ve already transitioned out some of the older hardware (intel07, gfx10 and intel10) to make room for the new equipment. Please see the HPCC News section below for a tentative timeline for the new cluster installation.
Dr. Leo Kempel (left), the first director of HPCC and current Dean of the College of Engineering, stopped by for a visit last month for the retirement of intel07, iCER’s oldest cluster. “Over the last 10 years, the machine has evolved from being a basic service for MSU researchers to becoming an institutionalized resource, like the library,” Dr. Kempel reminisced. “This (resource) plays a central role in the research being done on campus. It’s just as important a tool for MSU researchers as wind tunnels are for aerodynamics engineers or wet labs are for microbiologists.”
In other news, the iCER team continues to grow. Nicholas Rahme (right) joined the team last month as a new HPCC Information Technologist II. Nicholas comes to us from Liquid Web, where he was the System Restore Team Lead. Nicholas has a B.A. in Game Design and describes himself as an avid gamer.
“I’m eager to learn everything about HPC, as well as to help ensure the integrity of users' data,” Nicholas said. “I’m very happy to be a part of the team, and have been made to feel very welcome already.”

Welcome aboard, Nicholas, and Happy Spring everyone! 
Kennie Merz
iCER Director


Make sure to visit the 2016 Cluster Blog and follow the progress of iCER's new cluster installation. Our goal is to keep you up-to-date with all the latest information and pictures on the installation, and to allow you to share your thoughts and ask us questions about the process.

As iCER prepares the room, some of the older clusters — starting with intel07, intel10 and gfx10 — are being removed. Users will experience longer wait times in the queue as the work gets redirected to the remaining compute resources. Researchers who have been selecting any of the older machines are asked to join the queue for intel14 to run their jobs. Once the new machine is up and running, queue wait times should decrease dramatically.  

Additionally, next Tuesday, April 19, the scheduler will be paused between 8-10am to facilitate electrical work being done inside the Machine Room. Jobs that are running will continue to run but no new jobs starting during this time. We will post updates on the iCER Service Status page
Below is a tentative timeline for retirement of old machines and installation of new hardware:

Training News
Upcoming HPC workshops and seminars at iCER include:
ACM SIGHPC/Intel Graduate Fellowships in Computational and Data Sciences
Submissions are invited from women and/or members of minority groups currently underrepresented in the computing field. Fellowship recipients in this international program receive an annual stipend of $15,000 annually for up to five years, adjusted depending on the country where the degree will be earned. Deadline to apply is April 30. Click here for more information. 

HPCC Best Practices

The iCER team is recommending that HPCC users run jobs on scratch rather than on the “Home” or “Research” file systems. Several users have recently reported job failure errors when their programs read or write files on these file systems. “Home” and “Research” were designed for stability, not speed; when many users are reading/writing files to them, the system becomes unstable.

The scratch file system, meanwhile, is designed for speed. It is about 20 times faster, can hold almost 2000 terabytes, and does not count against your disk quota. To run your job on scratch, copy the input files and programs to your scratch folder and do your work from there. After your work is successful, copy all files you need to save back to your “Home” or “Research” space. This last step is critical, as the scratch file system is not backed up, and files older than 45 days are deleted.

Feel free to contact iCER if you need assistance or have questions on how to run on scratch. Your cooperation is greatly appreciated.

Outreach News 
As part of the Science Festival Schools program, iCER hosted almost 70 4th-8th graders last month from local public, private and home schools.
Students were engaged in hands-on activities designed to explore how supercomputers speed up scientific discovery. Student groups toured through five rotating stations: There was a cartoon introduction to parallel computing, an open node presentation, a hard drive teardown area, an introduction to binary code (including a game on how computers detect errors), and a tour of iCER’s HPCC. 
Students described their experience as “fun,” and “really cool.” Mary Jane from Wexford Montessori Academy and Owen, a homeschool student, both said they “loved” seeing the supercomputer. Elly and Alex from City School said their favorite thing was learning about how “computers speak” using binary code.
Business News

Don't forget to save the date for the 2016 CI Forum, which will be held this year on Oct. 6. This forum exists to support the implementation and use of cyberinfrastucture (CI) at research institutions.
Please plan to join us at SC16, which is being held in Salt Lake City, Utah, this year from Nov. 13-18. The iCER team will be set up at booth #1543.  
iCER's on Instagram!
Make sure to follow us, as we continue sharing photos and videos of all the cool stuff we do and the latest HPCC developments. 
iCER welcomes you to Weekly Open Office Hour every Monday and Thursday from 1-2 p.m. To get one-on-one help with computational-based questions, visit us in the Biomedical and Physical Sciences (BPS) Building Room 1440.

Do you know about an event, opportunity, job posting, or general news that would be of interest in our community? Email us at and we will get the word out. All submissions will be posted at the discretion of the iCER Communications Coordinator.

Copyright © 2016 Michigan State University, Institute for Cyber-Enabled Research, All rights reserved.

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