The High End Computing (HEC) Cluster is 

a centrally-run service to support researchers and research students at Lancaster who require high performance and high throughput computing

. This includes computing workloads with requirements that can't be met by the Interactive Unix Service (IUS) or desktop PCs.

The service combines what was the previously separately supported services for local high performance computing (HPC) users and the local Particle Physics research group (GridPP).The combined facility offers 8,800 cores, 40 TB of aggregate memory, 70TB of high performance filestore for general use and 4PB of medium performance filestore for GridPP data.

The cluster operating system is CentOS Linux, with job submission handled by Son of Grid Engine (SGE). The service supports a wide variety of third-party software including numerical packages, libraries and C and Fortran compilers.

Using the HEC

The HEC has three basic components:

login node, where users login in to submit jobs;

the compute nodes, which run those jobs; and 

dedicated file systems, which share user and other files across the cluster.

From the login node, users create a batch job script which describes the tasks their job(s) are to perform in a format similar to a unix shell script. The batch job is then submitted to the SGE job scheduler which will portion out user jobs to free compute nodes. Job submission commands can be supplemented with additional information, such as requests for specific amounts of memory (for large memory jobs), or multiple nodes (in the case of parallel jobs).

High End Computing cluster diagram


Login nodeThe login node is a 6-core virtual machine emulating Haswell architecture, with 48GB of memory.

Compute nodes: The compute nodes consist 445 servers covering a variety of generations of Intel processor, offering a mixture of 16 cores (Ivy Bridge through to Broadwell architecture) or 40 cores (for Skylake). The memory size for a standard compute node is 4G per core, with a few nodes offering double that in order to support jobs with larger memory requirements. Compute node network interconnects are 10 Gbit/s low latency Ethernet.

File store: The primary file storage system is an 70TB Panasas Activestor Series 16 Storage Cluster. A series of Viglen HS424i storage nodes act as secondary file system providing 4PB of medium-performance filestore for the local GridPP initiative.


A number of statistical and numerical packages and libraries are installed in addition to Fortran 90, C and C++ compilers. Most software is accessed via environment modules.

Get access to the HEC

Introduction to Linux by Robin Long

Unix Tutorial (generic unix) - from the University of California at Berkeley

Search for Unix books using the Lancaster University Library OneSearch facility

Logging in to the HEC

Using Filestore on the HEC

Transferring files to the HEC from the IUS or a Linux desktop

Transferring files to the HEC from a Windows PC

Transferring files to the HEC from luna or other smb-compliant services

Using environment modules on the HEC

Submitting jobs on the HEC

Monitoring jobs on the HEC

Running large memory jobs on the HEC

Submitting multiple similar jobs on the HEC

Requesting specific node types for jobs on the HEC

Using C and Fortran compilers on the HEC

Using the Ansys CFD package on the HEC

Using the COMSOL Multiphysics Package on the HEC

Using CP2K on the HEC

Using FFTW on the HEC

Using GROMACS on the HEC

Using the GNU Scientific Library (GSL) on the HEC

Using the LAMMPS molecular dynamics simulator on the HEC

Using the NAMD molecular dynamics simulator on the HEC

Using MATLAB on the HEC

Using the R Stats Package on the HEC

Using Stata on the HEC

Using StataMP on the HEC

Using Turbomole on the HEC

Using the Message Passing Interface (MPI) on the HEC

Using OpenMP on the HEC

Job fail errors on the HEC

Compilation fail errors on the HEC

Secure file transfer fail errors on the HEC

HEC service flyer (pdf)

overview hec HEC H.E.C heck