Advanced Research Computing Launch HPC Cloud Services Pilot
16 June 2022
ARCCA recently completed the deployment of a new HPC Cloud Pilot Service with Amazon Web Services (AWS). Supported by ARCCA technical staff, this service looks to explore the optimum provision of HPC resource through a mix of on premise and cloud-based offerings. Driven by a number of workshop sessions hosted by ARCCA, research groups from across the University are now starting to exploit and evaluate this service.
Following completion of a market evaluation exercise last year, AWS were selected through JISC to offer an HPC cloud services capability through ARCCA to assess its features, functionality, and value to the research community. A key component of this new service is the cloud-based self-service research platform built on AWS, RONIN Core. This management tool provides both ARCCA and researchers with a secure, self-service environment to manage systems, clusters and storage, with both budget control and full visibility.
To ensure a suitable variety of HPC workflows that are reflective of the Cardiff research community, a series of demonstration sessions were held to promote interest and identify suitable projects to evaluate and promote this new service. While this activity remains on-going, pilot projects from the Schools of Chemistry, Physics and Astronomy, Biosciences and Engineering have already been identified and begun exploiting and evaluating the new Cloud resources.
The range of options available from AWS allow HPC clusters to be targeted for particular use cases. Projects from the School of Chemistry may range from student projects requiring small amounts of storage and CPU with immediate access, to a project requiring a high number of CPUs with high performance interconnect capabilities (through AWS’ Elastic Fabric Adapter, EFA). A second example from the School of Physics requires high memory nodes whilst a third requires a range of processor types to assess the performance of new codes. To target solutions to particular projects provides a different approach to the traditional HPC procedure of designing projects based on a single solution. Using the Ronin interface, these different designs can control their costs and ensure the solutions stay within budget.
As well as extending and working with the existing set of pilot research groups, ARCCA aim over the coming months to further refine and mature the HPC cloud service offering. By delivering features such as integration with on-site capabilities, the benefits of adopting a hybrid approach to HPC service delivery will be fully explored.