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Augie: Villanova’s University-wide high-performance computing (HPC) cluster

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Augie is a key research tool that provides the Villanova community with the computational resources they need to succeed in their research and educational programs. Its mission is to advance research computing at Villanova through a research community of faculty, IT administrators and students.

Supported by a National Science Foundation Campus Cyberinfrastructure (CC*) grant, this cluster will be available to all Villanova members and will continue to grow with collaboration from the Villanova community.

Augie houses state-of-the-art AMD CPU’s with HDR InfiniBand interconnects and runs CentOS 7. The cluster also contains a node with NVIDIA A100 GPUs, which are the best available on the market. The cluster will be connected to the Open Science Grid (OSG), which is the premier vehicle for high throughput computing (HTC).

The cluster will also use a condo-computing model. Any Villanova member can contribute hardware to the cluster (subject to a minimum performance requirement) and receive priority compute time to their contributed hardware, while also giving more compute power to the cluster itself.

About

With the name “Augie,” we look back to the Villanova tradition of adventure and look ahead to the challenges of extending research potential both on campus and in collaboration with others–both locally and nationally.

Looking Back

In October 1841, two Irish Augustinians–Frs. Kyle and Moriarty–found a way to purchase the 200-acre Belle Aire Estate in Radnor where the Augustinian College of Villanova was founded. These parish priests, inspired by the love that St. Augustine had for seizing opportunities to make a difference, faced several successive challenges: the Nativist riots of 1844, a world financial crisis in 1857 and the Civil War. Each time, however, a way was found to adapt and move on, strengthened by the experience.  

Augustine once said: “Anyone who has learned to love the new life has learned to sing a new song” (Sermon 43,1). He added that the song is new because the people that sing it are new, and Christ has made them new. Rising to new challenges was a significant part of his experience, whether in his time as a student in North Africa or as imperial rhetor in Milan, Italy in his early 30s. Then, seized by the people of Hippo as their priest, he learned how to help a down-trodden people come together and care for the common good of others over the 33 years of being their bishop.

That same spirit was found in the 13th century men who came together to form the Augustinian Order. With courage and a sense of the needs of the time, they used their restlessness to serve others with a passion for truth and a willingness to adapt to the needs of the time.

Looking Ahead

A new and important means to do something new and to do so with others is now provided by the grant which allows Villanova to use “Augie”–the High-Performance Computing Backbone–to enhance research on campus (for research faculty and in graduate and undergraduate courses) and to collaborate with others, both locally and nationally. Like Augustine and Augustinians of other ages, the faculty at Villanova have another way to sing a new song for the common good.

Mission:

"We are a partnership of faculty, technical staff and students that empowers Villanova to maximize its computational research potential."

Vision:

"Advancing Research Computing Through a Research Community" that features management of Augie, a center of HPC expertise, and HPC user support.

Aaron P. Wemhoff, PhD
Principal Investigator

Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Ryan Jorn, PhD
Co-Principal Investigator
Associate Professor of Chemistry

David Cereceda, PhD
Co-Principal Investigator
Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Jonathan Graziola
Co-Principal Investigator
Manager, IT Operations, CLAS IT

Michele Dickinson

Chief Information Security Officer, UNIT

Contact the HPC Oversight Team to learn more.

Hardware

  • 11,392 GB Total High Performance DDR4 ECC System Memory
  • 192 TB RAW Storage Space
  • 1,632 Total AMD EPYC Series CPU Cores
  • 2x Tesla A100 / 40 GB HBM2 Memory (GPU Node)
  • High Speed Mellanox 200 Gbps HDR Infiniband Network Backplane

Software

The following software is anticipated to be readily available in 2021:

  • LAMMPS
  • CP2K
  • Quantum Espresso
  • Simulink
  • MATLAB
  • R
  • Abaqus
  • TensorFlow
  • Python
  • COMSOL
Please contact the HPC Oversight Team to request additional software installation.


Contribute Via Condo-Computing

Condo computing is a model to grow the cluster that benefits the equipment owner as well as others that use the cluster. This approach is popular among HPC facilities in other universities. The general concepts behind condo computing are:

  • A user (generally a faculty member) purchases equipment to be integrated into the cluster. The equipment must meet the minimum standards set by the HPC advisory board. The user is considered the equipment owner.
  • The equipment is available for use by anyone who uses the cluster. However, the owner gets priority access to the equipment.
  • In some condo models, the owner pays a rental fee for housing the equipment. However, no fee will be issued for condo computing with Augie.

Why Condo Computing?

  • It saves time: the HPC cluster has high-priority IT support, meaning rapid turnaround times for issues. Users can focus on the research and not IT administration, meaning higher research productivity.
  • It benefits the Villanova community: available equipment can be used by the general research community, effectively reducing idling processors and other unused resources.
  • It makes research more flexible: By incorporating their equipment into the cluster, owners can take advantage of other resources in the cluster to help their research. For example, owners can run large jobs on additional nodes.


Research and Education

Villanova faculty are engaged in active projects, utilizing HPC resources to conduct research and complete analyses.

Our goal is to integrate Augie into up to 10 new and existing courses on campus. Please contact the HPC Oversight Team if you are interested in this opportunity.