The Research & High-Performance Computing Support group provides various levels of computing support to the research and high-performance computing communities at McMaster.
A growing number of research fields require HPC as a key component of their tool-chests. RHPCS was formed with a mandate to support HPC installations as a central part of the university infrastructure, at no cost to the end user. Our services include
- Recommending hardware configurations and getting vendor quotes for HPC grant applications
- Site planning and configuration
- Hardware and software installation (typically with vendor support)
- Application software installation, user management, integration with desktop systems
Desktop and server System Administration
System administration support for research computing falls roughly into three categories:
- on-going system management under annual contract;
- system-management tasks charged according to time and materials;
- consultation re. system/software problems;
- Contract System Administration
- Administration of Unix systems is our bread and butter. But research computing clusters are never homogeneous, so that administration includes network administration as well as managing file and printer sharing and backup services for Windows and MacOS systems. Departments or research groups pay an annual fee, based on an average number of hours of service per week. Administration includes installation, configuration, security, patches and upgrades, software installation and user administration, but the exact description varies somewhat from group to group. We support most major version of Unix (including Mac OS X) as well as configuring and maintaining linux servers for MS Windows research clusters. In general, the larger the contract, the more room there is for flexibility in the exact arrangements. Contact Patricia Monger or Todd Pfaff for more information.
- System Management Tasks
- RHPCS may be contracted on a time-and-materials basis to do installation, configuration and system work for groups who do not have a support contract or who need work beyond the scope of their contract. These jobs can only be undertaken when staff are not fully occupied with regular support work. Contact Patricia Monger or Todd Pfaff for more information.
- System and Software Problems
- RHPCS can provide consultation to researchers without contracts on a first-come, first-served basis, depending on staff availability. That is: we can't promise to help, but we'll certainly try. Contact the RHPCS analysts for help or information.
Other Research Computing Support
These services are available to the research community on a no-charge, first-come first-served basis
- Consultation re. purchases and equipment grant applications
- Graphics and visualization
- Strategic planning at the institutional level
- Purchase Consultation
- RHPCS can provide advice on equipment purchases based on the requirements of your research and the size of the user group. This includes getting quotes from vendors, help with preparing the technical specifications for RFPs and ensuring compliance with the proposal requirements of the granting agencies.
- Graphics and Visualization
- RHPCS is developing support services in graphics application consultation & software. The graphics and visualization Research Engineer may be seconded to research groups to develop visualization applications. Two pilot projects have been completed. The mechanism for applying for programmer services is being developed. Interested researchers should contact RHPCS. We welcome input from the research community regarding your requirements in this area. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Strategic Planning
- RHPCS provides assistance to the Office of Research Services and equipment grant proposers by seeking to leverage the university investment in research computing infrastructure through negotiating with vendors for site licenses and discounts, providing staff management for contract support staff, and through encouraging the use of shared institutional facilities (e.g. SHARCNET) where feasible.
Other McMaster Resources for Research Computing
RHPCS provides access to a number of site-licensed tools and applications; contact RHPCS for more information about the items below or questions about other products.
- the Sun Solaris operating system is provided free of charge for customer-owned systems (funded by UTS, since it is heavily used for networking and departmental LAN servers that UTS administers)
- Sun application software through the Sun Workshop University software site license programme (C, C++, Fortran 77 & 90, iMPact parallelizing compiler environment), on a shared-cost basis among interested research groups
- other site-licensed software (eXceed, Zmail, VMware, XWin-32, SAS, SPSS, Maple, Matlab -- various license terms depending on vendor, based on shared-cost, volume-purchase agreements among groups of interested researchers)
UTS manages site licenses for some general-use packages (e.g. TrendMicro anti-virus, CorporateTime Calendar). More information can be found on the UTS Supported Software List or by contacting the UTS help desk at "email@example.com", which takes care of UTS-maintained licenses.
Numerical Software & Large-Scale Computing
Fred Kus, retired CIS Large-Scale Computing Specialist, maintained an extensive archive of software and references for numerical software. By request from the Internet numerical community, these pages are preserved here.