'UNSW - Science

UNSW - Science - HPC

Katana Overview

Request a Katana Account

Katana is a computational cluster that is designed to support the scientific computing needs of staff and postgraduates in various UNSW schools and research groups, primarily within the Faculty of Science. The cluster currently comprises 150 compute nodes with a total of 2,160 Intel CPU cores. Its configuration is similar in style to the cluster at the NCI National Facility.

Funding for Katana is provided by the Faculty of Science and the schools and research groups who use the cluster. The Faculty of Science funds all the critical cluster infrastructure, and the schools and research groups fund the compute nodes to meet their requirements.

A 10GbE network connects compute nodes in the cluster and provides access to home and scratch storage. Every user is provided with a personal 10GB home directory and access to a shared 336TB scratch space. Home directories are backed up, but scratch directories are not. Other network storage, such as users' H-drives, are also available on the head node of the cluster.

User jobs are prepared, submitted and managed on the head node of the cluster, but they are executed on one or more of the compute nodes. Katana incoporates a job scheduler with various fair-share algorithms to determine when and where jobs are dispatched across the cluster. The scheduling policy will permit any job with an expected run-time of less than 12 hours to run on any compute node in the cluster. Longer jobs can only run on the compute nodes purchased by the user's school or research group.

Currently, there are over 400 users of the Katana cluster. A typical Katana user is concerned with solving a series of CPU-bound numerical problems. The CPUs in Katana are not necessarily an order of magnitude faster than the CPUs in a modern desktop computer. Instead, the benefits offered by Katana are the high number of CPU cores (per node and in total) and the large memory capacity. This often enables users to tackle larger scale research problems, either by increasing the resources (threads, processes, memory) dedicated to a single job, or by increasing the number of jobs running simultaneously.

To request access please send an email to itservicecentre@unsw.edu.au and mention Katana in the email. Postgraduate students should also include the contact details of their supervisor. The same email address can also be used to report any problems or seek help from the members of IT staff who support Katana.