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Purchasing in Myriad§

Researchers may purchase additional resources to be used as part of the Myriad High Performance Computing cluster if the free service does not meet their needs. These resources can be made available in one of two ways:

  • Nodes purchased by researchers can be converted into a quarterly allocation of “priority cycles” equivalent to the amount of computation provided by the nodes, but usable across the whole cluster. We calculate how much time exists on your nodes for three months, and every three months you receive an allocation of that much priority time to use however you want on Myriad (GPU/large memory nodes cost more to use, and give you more if you buy them). We recommend this route.
  • The purchaser may request to buy nodes to be reserved for their group or department, restricting usage to the owned nodes. There may be an additional cost implication to this option (price on application).

Costs will include backend infrastructure – racks, switches, cables etc – needed to integrate the compute nodes into the facility. Both options can be costed into research proposals.

FAQs§

Can I add the cost of purchasing nodes to a grant application?§

If you are putting together a grant application and think that you may need to ask for the cost of additional computing resources to be covered, please contact us. We will be able to assess your requirements, recommend appropriate hardware, and then provide an estimate and a supporting statement.

Can you give me advice on what hardware to buy?§

Yes, we’d be happy to discuss this with you. Please contact rits@ucl.ac.uk. Please note that this is not the same address used for support requests.

What type of nodes can we purchase?§

We currently have three types of node in Myriad, which are well tested and work reliably. These are:

  • Standard compute nodes: 36 Cascade Lake Xeon cores, 192GB RAM
  • GPU nodes: 36 Cascade Lake Xeon cores, 192GB RAM, 2x nVidia Tesla V100
  • High memory: 36 Cascade Lake Xeon cores, 1.5TB RAM

If you require an alternative/custom specification, we can’t guarantee that we will be able to accommodate this on the cluster, but we’re happy to look into it.

I want to apply for more than £50k worth of equipment, will we have to go through a tender process?§

No. We have a framework agreement with the vendor which covers all hardware purchases.

I know what hardware I need. Can you send me a quote?§

Even if you know what hardware you need, before we can send you a quote, we will need to agree on a detailed specification. Please email rits@ucl.ac.uk with the following information:

  • Budget holder: name and contact details
  • Type and number of nodes you’d like to purchase

We will then either send you a specification to approve, or ask to meet to discuss your requirements further. Once this is agreed, we aim to get back to you with a quote within two weeks.

How do I manage who has permission to use our nodes/priority queue?§

When you purchase nodes or priority cycles, we will ask you for a list of usernames of people who have permission to use the resource — access is managed using access control lists on Myriad. If your list of users is an entire department, we can automatically generate this list nightly. Resource owners or designated resource administrators can request a change of membership of these groups by submitting a ticket in Remedy Force or emailing [mailto:rc-support@ucl.ac.uk rc-support@ucl.ac.uk].

What is the difference between paying for priority cycles and purchasing dedicated nodes?§

Priority cycles is the better option for most people as it provides greater flexibility: priority cycles can be used across many nodes at once, and there is no time limit to using them. Dedicated hardware however would need to be in use 24/7 in order to get the most out of it. Researchers might want dedicated nodes if they have particular requirements which mean they can only run their work on their own nodes; e.g., they have purchased non-standard nodes, or the software they are using requires a static licence tied to a particular node.

Will my 3-month priority cycle allocation roll over to the next quarter if I don’t use it?§

No.

I want the flexibility of priority cycles, but my funder requires an invoice for specific hardware.§

Even if you require an invoice for specific hardware, you can still convert the physical hardware into priority cycles. We will add the nodes you purchased to the general pool and give you the equivalent in priority cycles.

What happens to nodes I have purchased once they’ve reached the end of warranty?§

The hardware is run for the life-time of the service, however if you buy dedicated nodes and they run out of warranty, they will not be replaced.