10 May 2017

Limited-time free computing power for researchers

Does it sometimes take you days or even weeks to do complex calculations for your research? The enhanced computing power of high performance computers (HPC) like at SURFsara could save you lots of time. For a limited period, the Research IT programme is offering researchers free credits to tap into this HPC power.  

SURFsara Credits is a service for researchers who are reaching the limits of their desktop or laptop when conducting complex calculations. On an HPC system, tools like 'R', Matlab, SAS and STATA can put multiple processors (8, 16, 32, 64, ...) to work simultaneously to complete a calculation job. SURFsara Credits makes the switch to HPC easier for researchers. 

184 minutes 

‘I had assembled nine desktops to perform calculations for my research, but that was nowhere near enough. It would have taken them weeks to complete just a fraction of the work.’ Michail Moatsos is doing a PhD in history at UU and needed more desktops, so he came to the ITS Department. They told him about the temporary offer of free credits to use one of SURFsara's HPC systems.  

‘A week later I had an account, and three days later the results of one subset were in. Another calculation with 10,000 iterations would have taken my computers 38 hours, whereas the Lisa HPC needed a mere 184 minutes.’  

At a recent conference in London, Michail gave a talk on his research, presenting an alternative method to measure poverty underpinned by calculations generated by the Lisa HPC system.   

Limited offer 

The free credits are being offered this year (2017) by the Research IT programme as part of a pilot to gain experience in directing researchers to these HPC services and thereby maximise access to SURFsara facilities. The number of credits available is limited; however, if there is lot of interest the pilot may be extended.   

According to an interim evaluation, initial users are very satisfied. They are especially impressed with the speed of the results and freedom to use the system from wherever and whenever they please.  

More info? 

Interested to find out if HPC could aid your research or to learn more about the pilot conditions? You can find full details on the intranet.