Frequently Asked Questions about ICSE’s Computing Facilities

  1. What do you charge to use the cluster? Unless you become a large user of the cluster’s resources, most people will be charged $250 per month to access the machines and take advantage of all of ICSE’s existing infrastructure (firewalls, file servers, disk storage, etc.).
  2. Is that $250/m charge per student? No. The $250/m covers all the students in your research group, whether that is 1 student or 10 students!
  3. Can post-docs, M.Eng., and undergraduate researchers use the cluster? Yes, as long as they are members of your research group and you vouch for their integrity, they can have an account.
  4. Do you have to be a CBE (Chemical Engineering) faculty member to use the facilities? No. We currently serve faculty from a number of Cornell departments and centers (from CCMR to KAUST-CU to the Earth Energy IGERT). We are open to use by any Cornell faculty research groups.
  5. How secure are the data? We have a remote disaster recovery set-up in Rhodes Hall to which files are incrementally backed-up nightly. A full backup is performed once a month. We have duplicate disks that shadow each other’s activity. The servers are also duplicated. There is only one A/C unit in the facilities; if that failed, we would be down until it was fixed. We have an outstanding record of file security.
  6. I do imaging (or massive CFD calculations, or many other possible topics) and need a lot of memory and storage capability. What resources do you have for that? We have a file storage capability of over 200 TB of disk. To put this in context, a typical student researcher uses about 1 TB on average, but we have had users with needs of ~10 TB. The storage is duplicated for added security.
  7. Do I have to write a proposal to get an account on the CCMR-ICSE cluster? No. Just send us a list of netIDs in your group and a start date and we can get you set up within 24 hours, typically. Our accounts person will then ask you for an account number.
  8. My colleague, Prof. X, and I want to work on a joint project, do we each have to pay the usage fee? Yes. We would make an exception if only one or two shared students are involved between the two groups.
  9. I have my own cluster; will you manage it? Yes, we will manage your private cluster for you at a competitive price that scales non-linearly with the number of processors.
  10. I don’t have my own computers, but I need access to computing resources. What can ICSE do to help? We have a pool of shared computers that you can use, as and when you need it.
  11. I want to use computer resources in my course, can ICSE help? Yes, this is a new option for us. Contact the Director, Paulette Clancy, to discuss your needs.
  12. How is the ICSE Facility different from other Cornell facilities? We share some common services with other entities on campus, but some of our characteristics are unique to ICSE. Points of distinction of ICSE Facilities include:
  • ICSE’s Facilities have a pool of shared computers for users to use. No need to buy your own equipment
  • We offer the ability for research groups to join and leave easily, as their computing needs dictate. So short-term projects can be easily and quickly accommodated.
  • We do not charge for consulting on software or hardware issues.
  • We employ a batch queuing system, NBS (Network Batch System) that ensures “fair play” for users so that one user or one group does not dominate use of the facilities.
  • ICSE continually advances the capabilities of the infrastructure. For example, we continually search for better security, faster network communications, new file system capabilities, etc. In other facilities, your cluster’s system remains static until you tell them to change it. At ICSE, we are constantly looking for ways to implement state of the art tools in system management to improve services for our clients.
  • ICSE provides free access to our software licenses. There is a shared pool of software licenses that we provide. This includes codes such as Gaussian 09, Matlab, Materials Studio, etc. We also provide access to freeware without you having the trouble of setting them up correctly; examples include LAMMPS, Quantum Espresso, etc. If your particular code/suite of programs is not mentioned, contact us to discuss.
  • ICSE provides access to a lot of shared disk space, which is great for experimentalists and computational people alike.
  • We are still a relatively small community, which allows us to tailor our policies to help our clients.
  • Our IT support actively talks to student users to help them with their research issues.

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