ANU Supercomputer Facility - Annual Report 1997

Time Allocation Committee and ANU Usage


The Supercomputer Time Allocation Committee (STAC) has had the responsibility for allocating time on the University's production high performance computing systems since 1987.

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. 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.

The STAC processed two rounds of proposals during the year. Given the large increase in resources available following the upgrades of the systems, the process was relatively informal in 1997.

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 1997, members were:

Allocations in 1997

Table 3 presents a summary of the number of researchers and time allocations by research field on each system.

Internal VPP300 Allocations

A total of 67 internal VPP300 projects were approved by the Time Allocation Committee. There were 13 new projects. During the year, there were 161 researchers associated with ANU projects on the VPP300, comprising 46 Principal Investigators and 138 individual user accounts on the system. (The totals obtained by summing the columns headed `Number of Researchers' in the following tables are greater than 161 because some researchers work on more than one project.) While the number of projects has not increased greatly over previous years, the number of associated researchers grew by 25% in 1997.

Grants are allocated in Service Units. 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 on a single processor. The system was heavily used throughout the year. Note that time was also used by external users, for systems development and for the Fujitsu collaborative software development projects and similar activities.

Table 5 lists grants and usage by project. A detailed description of each project is presented in Appendix A.

Internal SGI-PowerChallenge Allocations

A total of 65 projects involving 45 Principal Investigators and 148 researchers were awarded allocations totalling 147,016 Service Units. There were 21 new projects (8 of which were also new projects on the VPP300). There were 44 projects which also were allocated time on the VPP system. The number of projects and associated researchers grew by around 30 and 40 percent respectively in 1997. Total cpu usage by internal STAC users was 125,895 hours.

In addition, there were 87 `Class B' users of the system who are not subject to allocation by the STAC. Class B accounts are provided for `low-end supercomputer' users who require occasional use of a computational resource beyond that which they can reasonably expect to have available on their desktop or in their Department or School. It is intended that such users be granted relatively ready access to the PowerChallenge system, but not on the `free-for-all' basis that has been the case on some central non-supercomputer services in the past. Class B users used 2,600 hours during the year.

Table 6 lists grants and usage by project. A detailed description of each project is presented in Appendix A.

External VPP300 Allocations

As outlined in the Collaboration and Outreach section of this annual report, the STAC continued to take responsibility for allocating the bulk of external usage of the VPP300 and on the SGI-PowerChallenge. Details of the outcome and usage are presented in that section.

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