Supercomputer Time Allocation Committee and ANU Usage

The Supercomputer Time Allocation Committee (STAC) has had the responsibility for allocating time on the Fujitsu vector processors since 1987. In March 1993, the Parallel Computing Research Facility agreed that the STAC should take responsibility for making grants of production time on the Connection Machine. The PCRF agreed to 50 per cent of the CM-5 being allocated in this way.

The Committee's policy is that all but small start-up allocations of time to local researchers should be subject to a peer-review process. This is in contrast to other centralized computer resources at the ANU where there are no such procedures. Applicants are required to provide an academic justification for the amount of time requested, as well as information by which the suitability of the computer system for the proposed research can be judged. The Chairman of the Committee obtains reports on proposals from referees throughout Australia and in many cases from overseas. New projects and continuing projects that make large requests for resources are routinely refereed. The Committee makes grants of time on the basis of these reports and on the effective use of previous grants. Since the time between meetings of the Committee is quite long, procedures are implemented to assist researchers who wish to commence projects that evolve between meetings of the Committee.

Not only do ANU researchers make full use of the available time on the VP2200, but the rigorous refereeing and review by the Supercomputer Time Allocation Committee ensures that this work is of the highest standard. Furthermore, as demonstrated in an earlier Annual Report, exceptionally efficient use is made of the VP hardware as a result.

The Committee met twice during the year (on 5 April to allocate time from April to September and on 4 October to allocate time from October to March 1995).

Membership of the Time Allocation Committee

Members of the Committee are academics appointed on a two-year rotating basis by the Chairman. The Chairman is appointed by the Vice-Chancellor. During 1994, members were:

Professor W R Levick, FRS, John Curtin School of Medical Research (Chairman)

Professor M A Bennett, Research School of Chemistry

Dr G V Bicknell, Mount Stromlo and Siding Spring Observatories

Prof R P Brent, CSL, Research School of Physical Sciences and Engineering

Dr R A Gingold, ANUSF (non-voting member)

Internal VP2200 Allocations

Since the VP2200 user base is quite mature, the new policy under which users of large amounts of VP2200 time were not able to request substantially more than their previous grant was continued. This made it easier to manage the allocation process and to introduce several new large users. In view of the maturity of the user base and supercomputer systems, the procedures of the STAC were relaxed somewhat during 1994 for small and established projects.

A total of 82 internal VP2200 projects were approved by the Time Allocation Committee in 1994. The STAC received 22 proposals for new projects on the VP2200. During the year, there have been 158 researchers associated with ANU projects on the VP2200, comprising 51 Principal Investigators and 107 co-investigators, of whom some 127 have individual user accounts on the system. (The totals obtained by summing the columns headed `Number of Researchers' in the following tables are greater than 158 because some researchers work on more than one project.)

Grants to ANU projects amounted to 9736 Service Units, and the total CPU time used by ANU projects was 7241 hours. (A Service Unit is related to cpu use and the priority of the job; at normal priorities, one Service Unit corresponds to one hour of cpu time.)

Some 757 hours of `bonus time' were used in 1994. Bonus jobs run at low priority and should only have access to the CPU when other jobs are inactive. Projects can access `bonus time' when they have exhausted their allocations.

The remaining time was used by external users, for systems development and for the Fujitsu collaborative software development projects and similar activities.

Table 2 presents a summary of the number of researchers and time allocations by research field. Table 3 lists grants and usage by project. A detailed description of each project is presented in Appendix A.

External VP2200 Allocations

As outlined in the External Use Scheme section of this annual report, the STAC continued to take responsibility for allocating the bulk of external usage of the VP2200. Details of the outcome and usage are presented in that section.

Internal CM-5 Allocations

The STAC received 27 applications for projects on the Connection Machines at its April meeting. The total resources requested were around 50 per cent over that formally available. With the permission of the PCRF, 75 per cent of the machine was allocated under the assumption that some users will not make use of their grants. At the October meeting, demand was somewhat less and 18 projects were supported, including 6 new ones. A total of 40 projects and 62 users were active on the CM-5 using STAC grants during the year (including projects from 1993 finishing in March). There were 12 projects which were granted time on both the VP2200 and CM-5 (such projects are marked by an asterisk in the tables). The Service Units used totalled 3474 with an additional 1217 hours of bonus time being used.

The user base of the CM-5 as allocated by the STAC is quite similar to that of the VP2200. Detailed descriptions of each project are presented in Appendix A.

Use of the CM-5 by non-STAC users was quite small, amounting to only 227 hours. There is no evidence that access for non-STAC users was disadvantaged by the STAC approved projects.