Managing Slurm accounts

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Each job submitted to the job scheduler Slurm has an associated Resource Allocation Project (RAP) which is selected with the --account option to sbatch. The scheduling priority of the job will be determined by the target share of the account relative to the account's recent usage, as described at Job scheduling policies.

A research group may have many individual users submitting jobs to a given RAP account. The usage of all the users within the RAP is charged to a single account, thus each user affects the priority of jobs submitted by all the users in the group. Because of this, there are circumstances when active coordination among users may improve the project's throughput.

When can managing usage within a RAP account be useful?[edit]

A user who has not used many resources may submit a job and find that it has very low priority because other users in the group have run a lot of work recently. In this case all users of that account will have to wait for the account's fairshare (LevelFS) to return to a competitive value. Because the fairshare principle is applied within a group as well as between groups, jobs belonging to the underserved user will have the highest priority and, all else being equal, will run first when the group's fairshare recovers.

This may not happen, however, if different users in the group have jobs with drastically different requirements. For example, if one user runs a lot of small jobs which fit into scheduling gaps ("back filling" or "cycle scavenging") they may be able to achieve substantial throughput even while the group priority remains low. This will make it difficult for other users within the RAP to run jobs with greater resource requirements.

What strategies are there for managing usage within accounts?[edit]

Several of the strategies are things that can be discussed by the group in lab meetings.

  • If various users have distinct deadlines that require bursts of computation it can be valuable to schedule their usage on the system so that they do not affect each others' priority at critical times.
  • Use different clusters. The national general purpose systems are largely identical in capability, and each RAP is independently accounted on each cluster. User X of account Y on Graham will not affect the priority of jobs submitted by user Z to account Y on Cedar.
  • Use multiple accounts. A group that has a RAC award can submit jobs to both the RAC account and the default account; jobs running under one account will not affect the fairshare of the other account.
  • If the research involves collaboration between different research groups, each Principal Investigator (PI) involved in the research can obtain their own account and the users' work can be divided appropriately among the separate Resource Allocation Projects.

If the above strategies are ineffective, please contact an analyst. The analyst might wish to consult A group in conflict with itself in the staff-facing documentation for further suggestions.