About clusters and your work


Watch this in our courses: 2022 February, 2021 January

This is the first tutorial. The next is Connecting to Triton.

Science-IT is an Aalto infrastructure for scientific computing. Its roots was a collaboration between the Information and Computer Science department (now part of CS), Biomedical Engineering and Computational Science department (now NBE), and Applied Physics department. Now, it still serves all Aalto and is organized from the School of Science.

You are now at the first step of the Triton tutorial.

About Triton

Triton is a mid-sized heterogeneous computational Linux cluster. This means that we are not at a massive scale (though we are, after CSC, the largest publically known known cluster in Finland). We are heterogeneous, so we continually add new hardware and incrementally upgrade. We are designed for scientific computing and data analysis. We use Linux as an operating system (like most supercomputers). We are a cluster: many connected nodes with a scheduling system to divide work between them. The network and some storage is shared, CPUs, memory, and other storage is not shared.

A real Ship of Theseus

In the Ship of Theseus thought experiment, every piece of a ship is incrementally replaced. Is it the same ship or not?

Triton is a literal Ship of Theseus. Over the ~10 years it has existed, every part has been upgraded and replaced, except possibly some random cables and other small parts. Yet, it is still Triton. Most clusters are recycled after a certain lifetime and replaced with a new one.

On an international scale of universities, the power of Triton is relatively high and it has a very diverse range of uses, though CSC has much more. Using this power requires more effort than using your own computer - you will need to get/be comfortable in the shell, using shell scripting, managing software, managing data, and so on. Triton is a good system to use for learning.

Building your skills

See also

Main article: Training

As time goes on, computers are getting easier and easier to use. However, research is not a consumer product, and the fact is that you need more knowledge to use Triton than most people learn in academic courses.

We have created a modular training plan, which divides useful knowledge into levels. In order to use Triton well, you need to be somewhat proficient at Linux usage (C level). In order to do parallel work, you need to be good at the D-level and also somewhat proficient at the HPC level (E-level). This tutorial and user guide covers the D-level, but it is up to you to reach the C-level first.

See our training program and plan for suggested material for self-study and lessons. We offer routine training, see our Scientific Computing in Practice lecture series page for info.

You can’t learn everything you need all at once. Instead, continually learn and know when to ask for help.

Getting help

See also

Main article: Getting Triton help

First off, realize it is hard to do everything alone - with the diversity of types of computational research and researchers, it’s not even true that everyone should know everything. If you would like to focus on your science and have someone else focus on the computational part, see our Research Software Engineer service. It’s also available for expert consultations.

There are many ways to get help. Most daily questions should go to our issue tracker (direct link), which is hosted on Aalto Gitlab (login with the HAKA button). This is especially important because many people end up asking the same questions, and in order to scale everyone needs to work together.

We have daily “SciComp garage” sessions where we provide help in person. Similarly, we have chat that can be used to ask quick questions.

Also, always search this scicomp docs site and old issues in the issue tracker.

Please, don’t send us personal email, because it won’t be tracked and might go to the wrong person or someone without time right now. Personal email is also very likely to get lost. For email contact, we have a service email address, but this should only be used for account matters. If it affects others (software, usage problems, etc), use the issue tracker, otherwise we will point you there.

What’s next?

The next tutorial is connecting to the cluster.