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Environment Setup

AWS suggest to use Spack to setup your software environment. There is no hard requirement that you must use Spack. However we have included it here, as it is a quick, simple way to setup a development environment. The official ULHPC swsets are not available on the AWS cluster. If you prefer to use EasyBuild or manually compile softwares, please refer to the ULHPC software documentation for this purpose.

Install Spack

  • To do this, please clone the Spack GitHub repository into a SPACK_ROOT which is defined to be on a your project directory, i.e., /shared/project/<project_id>.

  • Then add the configuration to you ~/.bashrc file.

  • You may wish to change the location of theSPACK_ROOT to fit your specific cluster configuration.

  • Here, we consider the release v0.19 of Spack from the releases/v0.19 branch, however, you may wish to checkout the develop branch for the latest packages.

git clone -c feature.manyFiles=true -b releases/v0.19 $SPACK_ROOT
  • Then, add the following lines in your .bashrc
export PROJECT="/shared/projects/<project_id>"
export SPACK_ROOT="${PROJECT}/spack"
if [[ -f "${SPACK_ROOT}/share/spack/" && -n ${SLURM_JOB_ID} ]];then
    source ${SPACK_ROOT}/share/spack/" 

Adapt accordingly

  • Do NOT forget to replace <project_id> with your project name

Spack Binary Cache

At ISC'22, in conjunction with the Spack v0.18 release, AWS announced a collaborative effort to host a Binary Cache . The binary cache stores prebuilt versions of common HPC packages, meaning that the installation process is reduced to relocation rather than compilation. To increase flexibility the binary cache contains package builds with different variants and built with different compilers. The purpose of the binary cache is to drastically speed up package installation, especially when long dependency chains exist.

The binary cache is periodically updated with the latest versions of packages, and is released in conjunction with Spack releases. Thus you can use the v0.18 binary cache to have packages specifically from that Spack release. Alternatively, you can make use of the develop binary cache, which is kept up to date with the Spack develop branch.

  • To add the develop binary cache, and trusting the associated gpg keys:
spack mirror add binary_mirror
spack buildcache keys -it

Installing packages

The notation for installing packages, when the binary cache has been enabled is unchanged. Spack will first check to see if the package is installable from the binary cache, and only upon failure will it install from source. We see confirmation of this in the output:

$ spack install bzip2
==> Installing bzip2-1.0.8-paghlsmxrq7p26qna6ml6au4fj2bdw6k
==> Fetching
gpg: Signature made Fri 01 Jul 2022 04:21:22 AM UTC using RSA key ID 3DB0C723
gpg: Good signature from "Spack Project Official Binaries <>"
==> Fetching
==> Extracting bzip2-1.0.8-paghlsmxrq7p26qna6ml6au4fj2bdw6k from binary cache
[+] /shared/spack/opt/spack/linux-amzn2-x86_64_v4/gcc-7.3.1/bzip2-1.0.8-paghlsmxrq7p26qna6ml6au4fj2bdw6k

Bypassing the binary cache

  • Sometimes we might want to install a specific package from source, and bypass the binary cache. To achieve this we can pass the --no-cache flag to the install command. We can use this notation to install cowsay.

    spack install --no-cache cowsay

  • To compile any software we are going to need a compiler. Out of the box Spack does not know about any compilers on the system. To list your registered compilers, please use the following command:

    spack compiler list

It will return an empty list the first time you used after installing Spack

 ==> No compilers available. Run `spack compiler find` to autodetect compilers

  • AWS ParallelCluster installs GCC by default, so you can ask Spack to discover compilers on the system:
    spack compiler find

This should identify your GCC install. In your case a conmpiler should be found.

==> Added 1 new compiler to /home/ec2-user/.spack/linux/compilers.yaml
 ==> Compilers are defined in the following files:

Install other compilers

This default GCC compiler may be sufficient for many applications, we may want to install a newer version of GCC or other compilers in general. Spack is able to install compilers like any other package.

Newer GCC version

For example we can install a version of GCC 11.2.0, complete with binutils, and then add it to the Spack compiler list. ```·bash spack install -j [num cores] gcc@11.2.0+binutils spack load gcc@11.2.0 spack compiler find spack unload

As Spack is building GCC and all of the dependency packages this install can take a long time (>30 mins).

## Arm Compiler for Linux

The Arm Compiler for Linux (ACfL) can be installed by Spack on Arm systems, like the Graviton2 (C6g) or Graviton3 (C7g).o
spack install arm@22.0.1
spack load arm@22.0.1
spack compiler find
spack unload

Where to build softwares

The cluster has quite a small headnode, this means that the compilation of complex software is prohibited. One simple solution is to use the compute nodes to perform the Spack installations, by submitting the command through Slurm.

srun -N1 -c 36 spack install -j36 gcc@11.2.0+binutils

AWS Environment

  • The versions of these external packages may change and are included for reference.

  • The Cluster comes pre-installed with Slurm , libfabric , PMIx , Intel MPI , and Open MPI . To use these packages, you need to tell spack where to find them.

    cat << EOF > $SPACK_ROOT/etc/spack/packages.yaml
            variants: fabrics=efa,tcp,udp,sockets,verbs,shm,mrail,rxd,rxm
            - spec: libfabric@1.13.2 fabrics=efa,tcp,udp,sockets,verbs,shm,mrail,rxd,rxm
              prefix: /opt/amazon/efa
            buildable: False
            variants: fabrics=ofi +legacylaunchers schedulers=slurm ^libfabric
            - spec: openmpi@4.1.1 %gcc@7.3.1
              prefix: /opt/amazon/openmpi
              - spec: pmix@3.2.3 ~pmi_backwards_compatibility
                prefix: /opt/pmix
            variants: +pmix sysconfdir=/opt/slurm/etc
            - spec: slurm@21.08.8-2 +pmix sysconfdir=/opt/slurm/etc
              prefix: /opt/slurm
            buildable: False
            - spec: armpl@21.0.0%gcc@9.3.0
              prefix: /opt/arm/armpl/21.0.0/armpl_21.0_gcc-9.3/

Add the GCC 9.3 Compiler

The Graviton image ships with an additional compiler within the ArmPL project. We can add this compiler to the Spack environment with the following command: spack compiler add /opt/arm/armpl/gcc/9.3.0/bin/

Open MPI

For Open MPI we have already made the definition to set libfabric as a dependency of Open MPI. So by default it will configure it correctly.

spack install openmpi%gcc@11.2.0

Additional resources

Last update: May 22, 2023