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Storage Services at CHPC

CHPC currently offers four different types of storage: home directories, group space, scratch file systems and a new archive storage system.  All storage types except for the archive storage system are accessible from all CHPC resources.  Data on the new archive storage space must be moved to one of the other spaces in order to be accessible. Home directories and group spaces can also be mounted on local desktops.  See the Data Transfer Services page for information on mounting CHPC file systems on local machines along with details on moving data to and from CHPC file systems. 

In addition we have limited tape back up systems for both home directories and group spaces.  

Home Directories

CHPC provides several options for home directory file systems.

General HPC  home directories

The General HPC home directory storage system is the default home directory file system that is available to groups free of charge.   If your group has not purchased storage or you do not fit into one of the other categories listed below, then this is the space where your CHPC home directory will be provisioned. This file system has a 50 GB per user quota which is enforced. CHPC can provide temporary increases to this space. THIS SPACE IS NOT BACKED UP. It is assumed important data will be copied to a departmental file server or another location.

INSCC home directories

This file system is available free of charge to groups residing in the INSCC building. Quotas are set at a group level to allow more fluidity between users. This file system is backed up to tape, with nightly incremental and weekly full back ups and a two week retention window.

Owner home directories

CHPC currently allows CHPC PIs with sponsored research projects to buy-in to storage at a price determined based on cost recovery. The current limit for this space is 1TB/group, and all members of the research group will have home directories on this space. The current pricing is $500/TB for the 5 year warranty period of the hardware.  We prorate the charge based on the remaining warranty time.  When it is time to refresh the hardware, CHPC will contact all groups who have purchased space about the new pricing policy.  This file system is backed up to tape, with nightly incremental and weekly full back ups and a two week retention window. Please contact us by emailing and request to meet with us to discuss your needs and timing. 

NOTE -- Proposed New Home Directory Solution - January 2017 

CHPC is starting to explore options for the refresh of the current home directory file systems as the hardware that is currently being used for home directories goes out of warranty in August 2017.  Note that this includes all home directories in the general environment (NOT the protected environment home directories) – both the default 50GB/user spaces (that do not have tape backup) and the larger home directory spaces purchased by groups, which do have backup support.

The explorations have focused on ways to: (1) Improve the overall performance, (2) Improve the reliability/time available, (3) Increase the amount of home directory space in order to accommodate existing and new groups, and (4) Have a price point that strives to find a balance between cost and improved reliability and performance over our previous generation.

Our preferred solution is one that addresses all of these items. It is based on an offering from Dell known as their Compellent solution.  In this solution there are two RAID disk based copies, one of which is the primary storage with which users will normally interact.  The second copy is used as a fail over, and is effectively a replicated copy of the primary side.  In case of hardware issue with the primary copy, the fail over will become the active working copy until repairs can be made. For increased performance, there are solid state drives that will be used in an transparent manner as a first tier for I/O to this space in front of the larger capacity traditional spinning drives. Note that these features, including the fail over copy, will be present for all home directories, including the default 50GB ones provided to users whose groups do not purchase the larger home directory space.

For those groups that purchase space, the estimated cost of this proposed option is $1000/TB -- this is a one-time charge for the warranty lifetime of the hardware, which is 5 years from the date of purchase,  and this price includes a backup solution (details of this solution are still being considered).  Note that having a redundant copy is not a backup solution as any changes in the primary side will be synced to the secondary side, for example deleting or overwriting a file.  Initially groups will be limited to their current size, and any new purchases are limited to 1TB.  

UPDATE on New Home Directory Solution - 03 July 2017

At the end of 2016, we sent out a message and survey to all CHPC PIs  about the need to refresh the current home directory solution (described above).  Based on the replies and additional exploration of options on our end,  we made the decision to proceed with the purchase of the Dell Compellent solution. The hardware for this solution has arrived, and is scheduled to be deployed mid-July. The migration of data to this space will occur in August.

The pricing of the new home directory solution has been determined to be $1250/TB for the 5 year warranty period of the hardware.  As discussed below, this price covers the hardware cost for the two redundant copies, along with the backup (nightly incremental and weekly full back ups of the space, with a two week retention window). 

Any group that currently owns home group space will either need to purchase the new solution or move to the default general HPC home directory space provided free of charge (50GB per user with no backup) in August.  Over the month of July we will be reaching out to all PIs (or departments in the cases where the purchase is made at the departmental level) who currently own space in the current home directory solution to get their decision, and if buying into the new solution to get a chart field for the purchase.

Further details of the transition schedule will follow as we get closer to this time frame and have information on the time table for the migration of data.

Group Level Storage File Systems

CHPC currently allows CHPC PIs with sponsored research projects to buy-in to file storage at a price determined based on cost recovery.  A more detailed description of this storage offering is available.  The current pricing is $150/TB for the lifetime of the hardware which is purchased with a 5 year warranty.  CHPC purchases the hardware for this storage in bulk (currently 320TB at a time) and then sells it to individual groups in TB quantities, so depending on the amount of group storage space you are interested in purchasing, CHPC may have the storage to meet your needs on hand.  Please contact us by emailing and request to meet with us to discuss your needs and timing.

Archive backups of group level storage is available by request for the cost of the backup tapes. These backups are performed quarterly. We recommend that groups purchase a quantity of tapes to allow for two copies, so that backups can be alternated between the two sets. Contact us at for current pricing and to request an archive of your group space.

Scratch File Systems

There are various scratch file systems which are available on the HPC clusters. THESE FILE SYSTEMS ARE NOT BACKED UP. This space is provided for users to store intermediate files required during the duration of a job on one of the HPC clusters. On these scratch filesystem, files that have not been accessed for 60 days are automatically scrubbed. There is no charge for this service.

The current scratch file systems are:

  • /scratch/general/lustre - a 700TB lustre parallel file system accessible from all all CHPC resources
  • /scratch/kingspeak/serial - a 175 TB NFS system accessible from all CHPC resources except lonepeak
  • /scratch/lonepeak/serial - a 33 TB NFS system accessible from all interactive nodes and from the comput nodes of Lonepeak

Archive Storage 

CHPC now has a new archive storage solution based around object storage, specifically ceph, a distributed object store suite developed at UC Santa Cruz.   We have an initial raw capacity of 1.15PB, with a cost of $80/TB raw space.  In order to calculate the cost per TB of usable space you must consider the replication configuration.  Initially, we will be offering an 6+3 erasure coding configuration which results in a price of $120/TB of usable capacity for the 5 year lifetime of the hardware.  As we currently do with our group space, we will operate this space in a condominium model by reselling this space in TB chunks.  This space is a stand alone entity, and will not be mounted on other CHPC resources.

One of the key features of the archive system is that users manage the archive directly, unlike the tape archive option. Users can move data in and out of the archive storage as needed -- they can archive milestone moments in their research, store an additional copy of crucial instrument data, or retrieve data as needed. This archive storage solution will be accessible via applications that use Amazon’s S3 API.  GUI tools such as transmit  (for Mac) as well as command-line tools such ass3cmd and rclone can be used to move the data. In addition Globus can be used to access this space; however note that the globus ceph plugin is a new tool that is still be developed and should be treated as such.

It should also be noted that this archive storage space is for use in the general environment, and is not for use with regulated data;  CHPC is actively working on vetting this solution for human genomic data that is covered by NIH’s dbGaP policies.

Backup Policy

The backup policies of each type of storage have been described above. 

Mounting CHPC Storage

For making direct mounts of home and group space on your local machine see the instructions provided on our Data Transfer Services page. 

Additional Information

For more information on CHPC Data policies, visit: File Storage Policies

Last Updated: 7/3/17