High Performance Research Computing Core
The High Performance Research Computing (HPRC) core facility provides the VCU community with the high performance computing resources for research, teaching, and outreach activities.
The primary mission of the HPRC core facility is to advance scientific research at VCU in areas that benefit from large-scale computation. The HPRC supports the One VCU Research Strategic Priorities Plan and the recalibration of Quest 2028: One VCU Together We Transform by providing supercomputing clusters, large-scale storage systems, specialized software, and technical expertise in research computing. The HPRC supports research computing in mathematics and computational sciences, physical and chemical sciences, engineering, life sciences, medicine, and arts and humanities. Alberto Cano, Ph.D., associate professor of computer science, is the facility’s faculty director and Mike Davis is the technical director.
The HPRC operates two main clusters: Athena and Fenn, which provide service for different types of small/large, serial/parallel, CPU/GPU applications. The Fenn cluster is the only computing cluster certified at VCU to operate with CAT I data.
Acknowledge the HPRC core
Many of the core laboratories at VCU are supported, in part, by program grants from sponsoring institutes at the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and Virginia state funding. It is essential that core laboratory usage be appropriately cited in publications. This courtesy will help ensure ongoing support and continuity of such services to the VCU community. Please include the following in the acknowledgments:
High Performance Computing resources provided by the High Performance Research Computing (HPRC) core facility at Virginia Commonwealth University (https://hprc.vcu.edu) were used for conducting the research reported in this work.
Suggested grant language
Include the following text in the Facilities and Resources section of grant applications when proposing to conduct work that utilizes the HPRC facility:
The VCU High Performance Research Computing (HPRC) core facility occupies approximately 2,000 square feet of space on the third floor of Harris Hall on the Monroe Park campus. The mission of the HPRC is to provide high performance computing services for the VCU research community. To accomplish this goal, the HPRC maintains two major supercomputing clusters, each specialized for different computing environments:
- athena.hprc.vcu.edu is the primary cluster for large scale parallel computing. Athena consists of 109 compute nodes with a total of 7628 CPU cores, 38 TB of RAM, 28 GPUs, 3 PB of lustre filesystem, and a high-speed InfiniBand architecture of up to 100 Gb/s. Each node comprises between 28 to 128 cores, and 128 GB to 1 TB of RAM. GPU nodes comprise the NVIDIA V100, A100, and H100 GPUs.
- fenn.hprc.vcu.edu is designed to support research using data that must comply with federal security and privacy requirements (CAT I data). It consists of 16 nodes with a total of 480 Intel cores, 4 TB of RAM, 900 TB of GPFS high performance parallel file system storage, and 54 Gb/second InfiniBand networking. The Fenn system employs a security model that requires all access via VPN, and exists on a separate virtual and physical network from other university and HPRC resources.
The clusters provide 70+ software packages including R, SAS, Matlab, MPI, Bioperl, CellRanger, Gaussian16, VASP, Intel compilers, MCNP, nekRS, OpenFOAM, Salmon, etc. To facilitate the usage of the software and lower the barrier to non-traditional users, a web portal based on Open OnDemand offers a graphical user interface to interactive applications, including Jupyter lab, RStudio, VS Code, Matlab, SAS, etc.
The HPRC offers Artificial Intelligence services for research including text/code generation, image generation, and speech recognition.
To support this infrastructure, the HPRC employs 6 FTE staff positions: Alberto Cano, faculty director, Mike Davis, technical director; three systems analysts; and an applications analyst. In addition to maintaining the hardware, the HPRC works collaboratively with VCU researchers to maintain and optimize a large number of applications, scientific, statistical and development software.