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Slurm Resource and Job Management System

ULHPC uses Slurm (Simple Linux Utility for Resource Management) for cluster/resource management and job scheduling. This middleware is responsible for allocating resources to users, providing a framework for starting, executing and monitoring work on allocated resources and scheduling work for future execution.

Official docs Official FAQ ULHPC Tutorial/Getting Started


If you want more details on the RJMS optimizations performed upon Aion acquisition, check out our IEEE ISPDC22 conference paper (21st IEEE Int. Symp. on Parallel and Distributed Computing) presented in Basel (Switzerland) on July 13, 2022.

IEEE Reference Format | ORBilu entry | ULHPC blog post | slides
Sebastien Varrette, Emmanuel Kieffer, and Frederic Pinel, "Optimizing the Resource and Job Management System of an Academic HPC and Research Computing Facility". In 21st IEEE Intl. Symp. on Parallel and Distributed Computing (ISPDC’22), Basel, Switzerland, 2022.

TL;DR Slurm on ULHPC clusters

In its concise form, the Slurm configuration in place on ULHPC supercomputers features the following attributes you should be aware of when interacting with it:

  • Predefined Queues/Partitions depending on node type
    • batch (Default Dual-CPU nodes) Max: 64 nodes, 2 days walltime
    • gpu (GPU nodes nodes) Max: 4 nodes, 2 days walltime
    • bigmem (Large-Memory nodes) Max: 1 node, 2 days walltime
    • In addition: interactive (for quicks tests) Max: 2 nodes, 2h walltime
      • for code development, testing, and debugging
  • Queue Policy: cross-partition QOS, mainly tied to priority level (low \rightarrow urgent)
    • long QOS with extended Max walltime (MaxWall) set to 14 days
    • special preemptible QOS for best-effort jobs: besteffort.
  • Accounts hierarchy associated to supervisors (multiple associations possible), projects or trainings
  • Slurm Federation configuration between iris and aion
    • ensures global policy (coherent job ID, global scheduling, etc.) within ULHPC systems
    • easily submit jobs from one cluster to another using -M, --cluster aion|iris

For more details, see the appropriate pages in the left menu (or the above conference paper).


A job is an allocation of resources such as compute nodes assigned to a user for an certain amount of time. Jobs can be interactive or passive (e.g., a batch script) scheduled for later execution.

What characterize a job?

A user jobs have the following key characteristics:

  • set of requested resources:
    • number of computing resources: nodes (including all their CPUs and cores) or CPUs (including all their cores) or cores
    • amount of memory: either per node or per CPU
    • (wall)time needed for the users tasks to complete their work
  • a requested node partition (job queue)
  • a requested quality of service (QoS) level which grants users specific accesses
  • a requested account for accounting purposes

Once a job is assigned a set of nodes, the user is able to initiate parallel work in the form of job steps (sets of tasks) in any configuration within the allocation.

When you login to a ULHPC system you land on a access/login node. Login nodes are only for editing and preparing jobs: They are not meant for actually running jobs. From the login node you can interact with Slurm to submit job scripts or start interactive jobs, which will be further run on the compute nodes.

Submit Jobs

There are three ways of submitting jobs with slurm, using either sbatch, srun or salloc:

### /!\ Adapt <partition>, <qos>, <account> and <command> accordingly
sbatch -p <partition> [--qos <qos>] [-A <account>] [...] <path/to/>

### /!\ Adapt <partition>, <qos>, <account> and <command> accordingly
srun -p <partition> [--qos <qos>] [-A <account>] [...] ---pty bash
srun is also to be using within your launcher script to initiate a job step.

# Request interactive jobs/allocations
### /!\ Adapt <partition>, <qos>, <account> and <command> accordingly
salloc -p <partition> [--qos <qos>] [-A <account>] [...] <command>


sbatch is used to submit a batch launcher script for later execution, corresponding to batch/passive submission mode. The script will typically contain one or more srun commands to launch parallel tasks. Upon submission with sbatch, Slurm will:

  • allocate resources (nodes, tasks, partition, constraints, etc.)
  • runs a single copy of the batch script on the first allocated node
    • in particular, if you depend on other scripts, ensure you have refer to them with the complete path toward them.

When you submit the job, Slurm responds with the job's ID, which will be used to identify this job in reports from Slurm.

# /!\ ADAPT path to launcher accordingly
$ sbatch <path/to/launcher>.sh
Submitted batch job 864933


srun is used to initiate parallel job steps within a job OR to start an interactive job Upon submission with srun, Slurm will:

  • (eventually) allocate resources (nodes, tasks, partition, constraints, etc.) when run for interactive submission
  • launch a job step that will execute on the allocated resources.

A job can contain multiple job steps executing sequentially or in parallel on independent or shared resources within the job's node allocation.


salloc is used to allocate resources for a job in real time. Typically this is used to allocate resources (nodes, tasks, partition, etc.) and spawn a shell. The shell is then used to execute srun commands to launch parallel tasks.

Specific Resource Allocation

Within a job, you aim at running a certain number of tasks, and Slurm allow for a fine-grain control of the resource allocation that must be satisfied for each task.

Beware of Slurm terminology in Multicore Architecture!

  • Slurm Node = Physical node, specified with -N <#nodes>
    • Advice: always explicit number of expected number of tasks per node using --ntasks-per-node <n>. This way you control the node footprint of your job.
  • Slurm Socket = Physical Socket/CPU/Processor
    • Advice: if possible, explicit also the number of expected number of tasks per socket (processor) using --ntasks-per-socket <s>.
      • relations between <s> and <n> must be aligned with the physical NUMA characteristics of the node.
      • For instance on aion nodes, <n> = 8*<s>
      • For instance on iris regular nodes, <n>=2*<s> when on iris bigmem nodes, <n>=4*<s>.
  • (the most confusing): Slurm CPU = Physical CORE
    • use -c <#threads> to specify the number of cores reserved per task.
    • Hyper-Threading (HT) Technology is disabled on all ULHPC compute nodes. In particular:
      • assume #cores = #threads, thus when using -c <threads>, you can safely set
        OMP_NUM_THREADS=${SLURM_CPUS_PER_TASK:-1} # Default to 1 if SLURM_CPUS_PER_TASK not set
        to automatically abstract from the job context
      • you have interest to match the physical NUMA characteristics of the compute node you're running at (Ex: target 16 threads per socket on Aion nodes (as there are 8 virtual sockets per nodes, 14 threads per socket on Iris regular nodes).

The total number of tasks defined in a given job is stored in the $SLURM_NTASKS environment variable.

The --cpus-per-task option of srun in Slurm 23.11 and later

In the latest versions of Slurm srun inherits the --cpus-per-task value requested by salloc or sbatch by reading the value of SLURM_CPUS_PER_TASK, as for any other option. This behavior may differ from some older versions where special handling was required to propagate the --cpus-per-task option to srun.

In case you would like to launch multiple programs in a single allocation/batch script, divide the resources accordingly by requesting resources with srun when launching the process, for instance:

srun --cpus-per-task <some of the SLURM_CPUS_PER_TASK> --ntasks <some of the SLURM_NTASKS> [...] <program>

We encourage you to always explicitly specify upon resource allocation the number of tasks you want per node/socket (--ntasks-per-node <n> --ntasks-per-socket <s>), to easily scale on multiple nodes with -N <N>. Adapt the number of threads and the settings to match the physical NUMA characteristics of the nodes

16 cores per socket and 8 (virtual) sockets (CPUs) per aion node.

  • {sbatch|srun|salloc|si} [-N <N>] --ntasks-per-node <8n> --ntasks-per-socket <n> -c <thread>
    • Total: <N>\times 8\times<n> tasks, each on <thread> threads
    • Ensure <n>\times<thread>= 16
    • Ex: -N 2 --ntasks-per-node 32 --ntasks-per-socket 4 -c 4 (Total: 64 tasks)

14 cores per socket and 2 sockets (physical CPUs) per regular iris.

  • {sbatch|srun|salloc|si} [-N <N>] --ntasks-per-node <2n> --ntasks-per-socket <n> -c <thread>
    • Total: <N>\times 2\times<n> tasks, each on <thread> threads
    • Ensure <n>\times<thread>= 14
    • Ex: -N 2 --ntasks-per-node 4 --ntasks-per-socket 2 -c 7 (Total: 8 tasks)

28 cores per socket and 4 sockets (physical CPUs) per bigmem iris

  • {sbatch|srun|salloc|si} [-N <N>] --ntasks-per-node <4n> --ntasks-per-socket <n> -c <thread>
    • Total: <N>\times 4\times<n> tasks, each on <thread> threads
    • Ensure <n>\times<thread>= 28
    • Ex: -N 2 --ntasks-per-node 8 --ntasks-per-socket 2 -c 14 (Total: 16 tasks)

Job submission options

There are several useful environment variables set be Slurm within an allocated job. The most important ones are detailed in the below table which summarizes the main job submission options offered with {sbatch | srun | salloc} [...]:

Command-line option Description Example
-N <N> <N> Nodes request -N 2
--ntasks-per-node=<n> <n> Tasks-per-node request --ntasks-per-node=28
--ntasks-per-socket=<s> <s> Tasks-per-socket request --ntasks-per-socket=14
-c <c> <c> Cores-per-task request (multithreading) -c 1
--mem=<m>GB <m>GB memory per node request --mem 0
-t [DD-]HH[:MM:SS]> Walltime request -t 4:00:00
-G <gpu> <gpu> GPU(s) request -G 4
-C <feature> Feature request (broadwell,skylake...) -C skylake
-p <partition> Specify job partition/queue
--qos <qos> Specify job qos
-A <account> Specify account
-J <name> Job name -J MyApp
-d <specification> Job dependency -d singleton
--mail-user=<email> Specify email address
--mail-type=<type> Notify user by email when certain event types occur. --mail-type=END,FAIL

At a minimum a job submission script must include number of nodes, time, type of partition and nodes (resource allocation constraint and features), and quality of service (QOS). If a script does not specify any of these options then a default may be applied. The full list of directives is documented in the man pages for the sbatch command (see. man sbatch).

#SBATCH directives vs. CLI options

Each option can be specified either as an #SBATCH [...] directive in the job submission script:

#!/bin/bash -l                # <--- DO NOT FORGET '-l'
### Request a single task using one core on one node for 5 minutes in the batch queue
#SBATCH --ntasks-per-node=1
#SBATCH -c 1
#SBATCH --time=0-00:05:00
#SBATCH -p batch
# [...]

Or as a command line option when submitting the script:

$ sbatch -p batch -N 2 --ntasks-per-node=1 -c 1 --time=0-00:05:00 ./

The command line and directive versions of an option are equivalent and interchangeable: if the same option is present both on the command line and as a directive, the command line will be honored. If the same option or directive is specified twice, the last value supplied will be used. Also, many options have both a long form, eg --nodes=2 and a short form, eg -N 2. These are equivalent and interchangable.

Common options to sbatch and srun

Many options are common to both sbatch and srun, for example sbatch -N 4 ./ allocates 4 nodes to, and srun -N 4 uname -n inside the job runs a copy of uname -n on each of 4 nodes.

If you don't specify an option in the srun command line, srun will inherit the value of that option from sbatch. In these cases the default behavior of srun is to assume the same options as were passed to sbatch. This is achieved via environment variables: sbatch sets a number of environment variables with names like SLURM_NNODES and srun checks the values of those variables. This has two important consequences:

  1. Your job script can see the settings it was submitted with by checking these environment variables
  2. You should NOT override these environment variables. Also be aware that if your job script tries to do certain tricky things, such as using ssh to launch a command on another node, the environment might not be propagated and your job may not behave correctly

HW characteristics and Slurm features of ULHPC nodes

When selecting specific resources allocations, it is crucial to match the hardware characteristics of the computing nodes. Details are provided below:

Node (type) #Nodes #Socket / #Cores RAM [GB] Features
aion-[0001-0354] 354 8 / 128 256 batch,epyc
iris-[001-108] 108 2 / 28 128 batch,broadwell
iris-[109-168] 60 2 / 28 128 batch,skylake
iris-[169-186] (GPU) 18 2 / 28 768 gpu,skylake,volta
iris-[191-196] (GPU) 6 2 / 28 768 gpu,skylake,volta32
4 4 / 112 3072 bigmem,skylake

As can be seen, Slurm [features] are associated to ULHPC compute nodes and permits to easily filter with the -C <feature> option the list of nodes.

To list available features, use sfeatures:

# sinfo  -o '%20N %.6D %.6c %15F %12P %f'
# [...]

Always try to align resource specifications for your jobs with physical characteristics

The typical format of your Slurm submission should thus probably be:

sbatch|srun|... [-N <N>] --ntasks-per-node <n> -c <thread> [...]
sbatch|srun|... [-N <N>] --ntasks-per-node <#sockets * s> --ntasks-per-socket <s> -c <thread> [...]
This would define a total of <N>\times<n> TASKS (first form) or <N>\times \#sockets \times<s> TASKS (second form), each on <thread> threads. You MUST ensure that either:

  • <n>\times<thread> matches the number of cores avaiable on the target computing node (first form), or
  • <n>=\#sockets \times<s>, and <s>\times<thread> matches the number of cores per socket available on the target computing node (second form).

16 cores per socket and 8 virtual sockets (CPUs) per aion node. Depending on the selected form, you MUST ensure that either <n>\times<thread>=128, or that <n>=8<s> and <s>\times<thread>=16.

### Example 1 - use all cores available
{sbatch|srun|salloc} -N 2 --ntasks-per-node 32 --ntasks-per-socket 4 -c 4 [...]
# Total: 64 tasks (spread across 2 nodes), each on 4 cores/threads

### Example 2 - use all cores available
{sbatch|srun|salloc} --ntasks-per-node 128 -c 1  [...]
# Total; 128 (single-core) tasks

### Example 3 - use all cores available
{sbatch|srun|salloc} -N 1 --ntasks-per-node 8 --ntasks-per-socket 1 -c 16 [...]
# Total: 8 tasks, each on 16 cores/threads

### Example 4 - use all cores available
{sbatch|srun|salloc} -N 1 --ntasks-per-node 2 -c 64 [...]
# Total: 2 tasks, each on 64 cores/threads

14 cores per socket and 2 sockets (physical CPUs) per regular iris node. Depending on the selected form, you MUST ensure that either <n>\times<thread>=28, or that <n>=2<s> and <s>\times<thread>=14.

### Example 1 - use all cores available
{sbatch|srun|salloc} -N 3 --ntasks-per-node 14 --ntasks-per-socket 7 -c 2 [...]
# Total: 42 tasks (spread across 3 nodes), each on 2 cores/threads

### Example 2 - use all cores available
{sbatch|srun|salloc} -N 2 --ntasks-per-node 28 -c 1  [...]
# Total; 56 (single-core) tasks

### Example 3 - use all cores available
{sbatch|srun|salloc} -N 2 --ntasks-per-node 2 --ntasks-per-socket 1 -c 14 [...]
# Total: 4 tasks (spread across 2 nodes), each on 14 cores/threads

28 cores per socket and 4 sockets (physical CPUs) per bigmem iris node. Depending on the selected form, you MUST ensure that either <n>\times<thread>=112, or that <n>=4<s> and <s>\times<thread>=28.

### Example 1 - use all cores available
{sbatch|srun|salloc} -N 1 --ntasks-per-node 56 --ntasks-per-socket 14 -c 2 [...]
# Total: 56 tasks on a single bigmem node, each on 2 cores/threads

### Example 2 - use all cores available
{sbatch|srun|salloc} --ntasks-per-node 112 -c 1  [...]
# Total; 112 (single-core) tasks

### Example 3 - use all cores available
{sbatch|srun|salloc} -N 1 --ntasks-per-node 4 --ntasks-per-socket 1 -c 28 [...]
# Total: 4 tasks, each on 28 cores/threads

Using Slurm Environment variables

Recall that the Slurm controller will set several SLURM_* variables in the environment of the batch script. The most important are listed in the table below - use them wisely to make your launcher script as flexible as possible to abstract and adapt from the allocation context, "independently" of the way the job script has been submitted.

Submission option Environment variable Typical usage
--ntasks-per-node=<n> SLURM_NTASKS_PER_NODE
--ntasks-per-socket=<s> SLURM_NTASKS_PER_SOCKET
Total number of tasks
srun -n $SLURM_NTASKS [...]

Last update: July 19, 2024