Hawk supercomputing resources
31 March 2021
To meet the demand for an extensible service that enables interactive use of HPC resources, ARCCA have installed a number of new software environments to support graphical user access.
Rapid development cycles in modern data science require an extensible and structured service to deliver an interactive experience to enhance the usability of complex computing resources. With user-friendly interfaces such as Jupyter Notebooks becoming more mainstream in both teaching and research environments, their availability centrally with associated support will undubtedly enhance user productivity and help drive computational exploration. Whilst HPC work is traditionally carried out via a command-line interface requiring users to enter system commands and navigate through files or directories, there is an increasing demand for graphical desktop environments and desktop applications to enable more intuitive access to supercomputing resources. The provision of such user-friendly environments promises to reduce the learning curve required in maximising the potential of the underlying hardware resources.
In response to this need, a new Virtual Network Computing (VNC) service was recently setup to allow graphical desktop-sharing access on Hawk. To further enhance this service, ARCCA have been evaluating an open source product, OnDemand, from Ohio State University that will enable access to Hawk through standard web browsers.
The OnDemand environment provides users with web access to Hawk resources, user-based monitoring of the supercomputer, and potentially in the longer term a single landing zone to access a variety of research computing systems (onsite and at partner/collaborating institutions). Popular research applications including RStudio Server, Jupyter Notebook, Matlab and other software packages can be made available via OnDemand, thereby providing complementary routes to use the facility.
A full launch of the OnDemand platform will commence in early April, after successful completion of a pilot evaluation phase. By offering an easy-to-use web-based interface, the Hawk service will not only better meet the community’s requirement to support interactive workflows, but also reduce the barrier to entry and open up access to new research and teaching communities.