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Supercomputing at the IAC

Why Supercomputing?

Supercomputing is a general term that encompasses any high-speed computational process, and whose definition changes as new computing methods are developed. There is a large bibliography about this topic, but in this page we focus on the advantages that can be achieved by IAC researchers by using Supercomputing. If you are interested in theoretical aspects, this Wikipedia article about Supercomputing gives you a good overview and many references and links to further information.

The main reason to use Supercomputing is to get your computational results in less time. That time could be reduced by factor of 1.5, 2, 5, 10, 100, 1000, ... the limit will depend on the restrictions of your problem and program, the Supercomputing techniques you apply and the available resources to compute it. Even if time is not a limiting factor in your computations, using Supercomputing you may be able to work with much bigger problems than those you were previously able to, in the same time.

We describe here the available Supercomputing resources at IAC and some links with more information about them. If you are thinking about using Supercomputing at IAC and need any help, please contact with us (Antonio Dorta: ). We may help you to choose the best option depending on your problem, to compile your applications and transfer your data to these environments, to prepare your submit files and perform the submissions, etc.

Teide-HPC and LaPalma Supercomputers (Parallel Computing)

Parallel Computing is the simultaneous execution of the same task (split up and specially adapted) on multiple processors in order to obtain faster results (see also: Parallel Computing by Wikipedia). If you have a problem that requires a huge amount of calculations to be processed, but some of those operations are independent and could be performed at the same time, then you should consider using Parallel Computing in order to get your results in less time. Algorithms with huge loops and iterations with no (or a few) dependencies among them (like simulations of galaxies) are good candidates to be parallelized. Once you have your parallel code, a Supercomputer is needed in order to run it.

Researches at IAC have access to two Supercomputers, Teide-HPC and La Palma:

  1. Teide-HPC (Teide High Performance Computing) is a supercomputer located in the Instituto Tecnológico de Energías Renovables S.A. (ITER). It is the second most powerful supercomputer in Spain and it appears in the 169th position (June 2014) within the Top500 list of the most powerful computers in the world. It is composed of 1,100 Fujitsu computer servers, with a total of 17,800 computing cores (featuring the latest in Intel Sandy Bridge processors, allowing to obtain not only the best performance but also great energy efficiency), 36 TB of memory, a high-performance network and a parallel system of NetApp storage. According to Top500 it has a theoretical peak performance of 340.8 TFLOPs with a maximal LINPACK performance achieved of 274.0 TFLOPs.

    IAC's users need an account to be able to connect and run their programs in Teide-HPC. Please, send an email to support ( to get this account and also to solve any issue related to Teide-HPC. We have also prepared documentation about this machine for IAC's users, it is available at SIEwiki in venus.
  2. LaPalma belongs to IAC and it is one of eight nodes located on Spanish territory linked together to form the Spanish Supercomputing Network (RES). LaPalma node was previously part of MareNostrum, one of the most powerful computers in Europe. In its present status (Dec. 2013), LaPalma has a pick of 9.4 TFLOPS with 1024 cores (4 per CPU) IBM PowerPC PPC970 MP and 2GB of RAM per core. The total disk space is 37 TB and there is a fast communication network (10G) to transfer data between IAC and La Palma. A large set of scientific programs and libraries are already installed, and it is possible to install new software packages on demand (like those available at RES) if they are compatible and widely used. 50% of the computation time of LaPalma is assigned to the RES, and the other 50% (1.156.710 hours, that is 132 years per four-month period) is available for IAC researchers, who can apply for it at any time, although it is recommendable to do it in the official periods to get higher priority.

    Please, visit the following links for more information (some of them are only available when connected to the internal IAC network):

HTCondor (Distributed Computing)

Distributed computing is the process of running a single computational task on more than one computer (see also: Distributed Computing by Wikipedia). For instance, suppose we need to reduce some data using an application we have developed. We have a very large number of sets of data to reduce and the processing time is some hours per each set. If we compute all sets one by one in our machine, it may take several weeks to have all results... Now imagine we have hundreds of machines where we could run our program reducing different sets of data at the same time, then we could get all results just in a few hours!! HTCondor software makes this possible, and it will do all the work for you: HTCondor will copy the input files to the remote machines, execute your program there with different data and bring back the results to your machine when they are complete.

At the IAC the HTCondor system -High-Throughput Computing (HTC) system- is installed in most of the Linux Desktop PCs, allowing us to run our applications (shell scripts, astronomical software, our own programs written in C, Fortran, Python, IDL, Matlab, etc.) in other computers when they are not being used by their owners. At this time (Apr. 2014), more than 230 PCs with about 720 cores are ready to execute other users' programs when they are idle, i.e. you could get the equivalent to one month of serial execution in just one hour! (this is the theorical maximum, as not all HTCondor slots are always idle; a more realistic estimation could be an average value between 350 and 500 idle slots).

Please, visit the following links for more information (some of them are only available when connected to the internal IAC network)

"Burros" (High Performance Linux PCs)

Users who need to run CPU- or memory-intensive jobs, which are unsuitable for LaPalma Supercomputer or for the HTCondor system, can access any of several high performance Linux PCs. They are also suitable for developing, debugging and testing parallel applications before submitting them to other Supercomputers. These machines are open to any user and do not require advanced reservation. Some of them are listed below:

Sorry, this list is only available when connecting from IAC's intranet. Contact SIE for further details...

Other HPC Resources

There are more resources available in other institutions that can be accessed by researchers at IAC: