The Research Computing Services (RCS) group at Boston University maintains computing resources to provide high performance computing, without charge, to our research community. On occasions, a research project may have special needs that are not adequately served by our local systems. For those projects, the external resources provided through the XSEDE program may be appropriate.

| What is XSEDE? | Resources ? | How to apply? | When can I use it? | Login | Tutorials | Help | Of Interest | More Info |

  • What is XSEDE?

    XSEDE (eXtreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment) is the follow-on NSF initiative to Teragrid (which had a primary goal of providing free compute cycles to US researchers) to expand its mission to facilitate research collaboration among institutions, enhance research productivity, provide remote data transfer, and enable remote instrumentation, to name a few.

  • What resources are available?

    Here is an overview of XSEDE resources.
    Workshops on various topics are available throughout the year.

  • How do I apply for XSEDE allocations ?

    There are three primary considerations:

    • Who qualifies?
      The Principle Investigator (PI) must be a faculty, staff, post-doc of a US-based educational institution or member of a commercial organization. Members of the project may be any researcher, including graduate students and visiting scholars. For detail, see XSEDE PI qualifications.
    • What type of computer systems?
      To determine the system that best match your hardware and software requirements, please see available resources.
    • Which type of allocations (CPU time and disk storage allotments)?
      There are 4 types of allocations available. A summary is given below. (For details, please consult the XSEDE allocation policy page.) Many may find it useful to start by experimenting with the existing RCS allocations on a few machines; then request a startup allocation on a specific system to do more in depth analyses which may eventually lead to a research allocation proposal that require strong justifications to win approval. However, if your computing resource requirement are fully understood, proceed directly with a startup or research application:

      1. RCS allocations

        This is the simplest and quickest way to “sample” resources.

        If you are not sure which resources are appropriate for your computing needs, this is the right place to start.
        We, as an XSEDE member institution, have been given allocations by a few of the resource providers (institutions) across the country through XSEDE. We can add you as a member under this project, subject to approval by XSEDE.

        PROS: no need to write a proposal; time to approval is two business days.
        CONS: you can only run relatively short duration jobs and are limited to the resources available to Boston University.

        Resource Provider Machine
        Key Features Status
        Blacklight Pittsburg Supercomputing Center
        login with: ssh
        (USER is assigned by PSC, may be different than XSEDE portal USERID)
        SMP Large memory: 16 / 32 TB
        For 1440 cores, walltime<=48 hrs
        For 256 cores, walltime<=96 hrs
        You can run OpenMP jobs with lots of cores.
        Through 1st quarter, 2015
        Gordon San Diego Supercomputing Center (SDSC)
        login with: ssh
        Cluster Good for IO-bound apps with 4.8 TB of SSD (FLASH) storage. Through 1st quarter 2015
        Kraken NICS
        login with:
        (CPU + GPU)
        There are 36 nodes, each with 16 cores and 6 GPUs.
        Max walltime is 12 hours. No limit on nodes requested.
        Decommissioned May, 2014
        Maverick Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC)
        login with: ssh
        Cluster For visualization, 512 GPUs
        14.5 TB aggregate memory
        Until 2017
        Stampede TACC
        login with: ssh
        Cluster Intel Xeon Phi coprocessors (MIC architecture) Until 2017
        Trestle SDSC
        login with: ssh
        Cluster For 1024 cores, walltime<=48 hrs (336 hrs by arrangement) Through 2014.
        What you need to do to access XSEDE facilities through RCS allocations:
        1. First, go to and apply for a userid, i.e., an XSEDE portal account.
        2. With XSEDE userid, complete this form so that we could add you to our XSEDE project. This enables you to access one or more of the above listed systems within a few days, subject to XSEDE approval.
        The purpose of the RCS allocation is to provide the simplest, quickest, way for our users to explore the wide-ranging XSEDE facilities to identify the most appropriate resource for your Start-up allocation applications — with on-site testing. While no resource-usage limit is enforced, we strongly recommend that each user adhere to a quota of 1000 SUs (CPU hours), per facility. Thank you for your cooperation.
      2. Startup allocations

        This is suitable for researchers who need a moderate amount of resources or as a first step towards a more significant research allocation.

        Unlike the RCS allocation above, you are the PI with up to 200,000 SUs. Submitting an application with XSEDE is required.

        • Generally, first-time XSEDE users request this type of allocation.
        • May apply at any time. Requires a one-page abstract. Approval process is 2 to 3 weeks.
        • Allocation expires after one year. It may be extended but is not normally renewable. If further usage is needed, a startup allocation PI is encouraged to proceed with a Research allocation request (see below).
        • You can request up to 200,000 SUs on multiple resources (Service Units, a rated CPU hour to reflect different clock speeds of a wide range of resources). The limit on any resource, however, is 30,000 to 50,000 SUs.
        • Review allocation policies
        • To apply:
          1. Have PI’s CV prepared and ready for uploading (to XSEDE).
          2. Prepare a concise, one-page, summary of your project.
            Describes research, computational methodology, resources required. May be helpful to read what constitutes a “winning proposal.”
          3. Make sure cookies are enabled in your browser (in case you need to save session for submission at a later time).
          4. Login using your XSEDE portal login/password   (apply at if you don’t have one).
          5. Select “ALLOCATIONS” on the task bar, then click “Submit/Review Request” drop-down menu item
          6. In the new page, click on “Click to Enter or View Request”
      3. Education allocations

        These allocations enable the PIs to provide classroom instruction or training activities. Please refer to “Startup allocations” above for application requirement and procedure. (click here to apply. )

      4. Research allocations

        Research allocations enable PIs to continue research they began with Startup allocations. However, a Startup allocation is not a prerequisite for requesting a Research allocation. A successful Research allocation request requires a detailed justification of resource usage (a 10 to 15 page proposal). Requests are reviewed quarterly by the Resource Allocations Committee. (To apply,    Sample Research Allocation,    How to write a winning proposal )

        XSEDE is about to accept Research Allocation Requests for the allocation period, July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015. The submission period is from March 15, 2014 until April 15, 2014. Please review the new XSEDE systems and important policy changes (see below) before you submit your allocation request through the “XSEDE User Portal”:
  • How soon can I start using XSEDE allocations ?

    It depends on the type of allocation you apply for. Generally, it takes

    1. two to three days if you want to use the RCS allocation; apply at any time.
    2. two to three weeks for a startup or education allocation; apply at any time.
    3. around three months if you apply for a research allocation; application deadlines are October 15, January 15, April 15, and July 15. Corresponding award notification dates are: January 1, April 1, July 1, and October 1.
  • How do I login?

    There are several ways to log in to a system on which you have an allocation. The easiest way is to log in via the XSEDE portal using a web browser. On the other hand, if you prefer to use ssh, you will need to generate the key code as well as apply for a userid and password for each and every system on which you have an allocation. Alternatively, there is the GSI-SSHTerm method, which lies somewhere in between in terms of effort. It requires a software download from NCSA but there is no need to apply for individual passwords. This latter method is most practical; it offers ssh without the hassle of needing additional passwords.

    • Login via XSEDE portal
      This is the default browser connection method.
      PROS: The advantage is that there is a universal userid/password for all the XSEDE systems you have access to.
      CONS: Somewhat cumbersome in the display window, such as limited control over font style and size setting. Graphics are supported but appear to be slow.
      A few notes:

      • Logging in at the XSEDE home page sends you to “MY XSEDE.” This page displays the Allocation/Usage page. To launch a terminal session, select the “Accounts” tab under MY XSEDE. This new page displays all systems. Click on the “Login” link of the intended system to connect. This process requires Java, make sure that it is installed and enabled. You will need to click permission several times to get in.
      • The terminal session opened within the browser cannot change in dimension or font size. However, you can open a new terminal session by selecting Tools/Terminal Session and change the font size as you wish.
    • GSI-SSHTerm
      With this software, you can connect to an XSEDE host system from a PC (running Windows XP or Window 7), Mac, or Linux with the same XSEDE userid and password.

      1. How to Use the GSI-SSHTerm Java Applet
        You will need to know the login hostname of your preferred resource; see “Other information ?” below.
    • Login with ssh (Some sites, e.g., PSC Blacklight, may require that you apply for a separate userID and password to access via ssh)
  • Any tutorials or instructions on site operations ?

    1. Blacklight of PSC:   BU’s Getting Started with Blacklight,   Blacklight User Guide
    2. Gordon of SDSC:   BU’s Getting Started with Gordon,   Gordon User Guide
  • Need help?

    • Shaohao Chen (, 617-353-8294) and Keith Ma ((, 617-358-1873) are the XSEDE liaisons at Boston University. Contact them for general questions such as allocations, programming, and HPC issues. Contact the XSEDE helpdesk (see below) for help on system-specific issues.
    • XSEDE Help Desk

      You can use this webpage to ask for help from a specific resource provider. They also have a 24/7 phone service (1-866-907-2383).

  • Of Interest ?

  • Other information ?