MSI Users Bulletin - December 2020

The Users Bulletin provides a summary of new policies, procedures, and events of interest to MSI users. It is published quarterly.

To request technical assistance with your MSI account, please contact the Help Desk via email at or by using the online Support Request Form.

MSI Users pipeline information

1. Mesabi +1:

The award process for MSI's new HPC cluster has a finalist, and has received approval from the Board of Regents. We expect to be able to announce more specifics early in the New Year, but the new system will provide a dramatic performance increase over Mesabi and Mangi, with a notable focus on GPU acceleration and large memory systems.

2. HIPAA Cluster:

MSI’s new HIPAA-compliant cluster been named Blackwell. This name acknowledges historical and geographic facts:

  • Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States. Read more about Dr. Blackwell.
  • Blackwell Lake is located northwest of the Twin Cities, near Alexandria, MN; MSI has a tradition of naming systems after Minnesota lakes.

The system has been delivered and is being installed. The current timeline for testing is:

  • December 2020 /January 2021 - MSI internal beta testing
  • February 2021 - selected user testing
  • February/March 2021 - public beta testing

3. Transition to Slurm:

MSI is nearing completion of our transition to Slurm. Information about using Slurm, including video of the Slurm tutorial offered in October, can be found on the MSI website: 

4. Abandoned Data Policy:

MSI has instituted new procedures for handling abandoned data stored on our systems. Data is considered “abandoned” after a PI has not renewed their account twice. Data will be either archived or deleted depending on the storage system on which it was housed. Please review the new webpage describing these new procedures: Data Lifecycle After a PI Leaves MSI.

MSI strongly encourages all PIs to remove all data from MSI storage before they cease use of MSI systems. MSI staff are able to assist with this process if needed.

5. User Services:

Jim Ferguson has joined MSI as the Assistant Director for User Services. In this role, Jim will oversee several important functions to help our users: Help Desk operations, tutorials, website, events, and others.

6. Research Exhibition 2021:

Save the date! The annual MSI Research Exhibition will be held on April 20, 2021. Due to the ongoing pandemic and restrictions on large gatherings, this event will be held online.

The Research Exhibition will include a poster competition and industry presentations on current and future HPC technologies.

The Call for Posters will be sent out in early February. The event webpage will be updated as information becomes available.

7. U of MN Day of Data 2021:

Many people and groups across the University are implementing interesting approaches to data, but don’t always get a chance to share work across departments and units. Connect with other data enthusiasts at the University of Minnesota Day of Data 2021 to share and learn from each other. Because 2020 has been a year of change and creative problem-solving, this year's event will explore the ways that "data matters" across disciplines, to help participants appreciate the many ways that data are used to tackle pressing local and global issues.

  • Wednesday, January 13 - Friday, January 15, 2021
  • Virtual events spread out over three exciting "days of data." Attend as many events as you would like! 
  • This event is open to all students, faculty, staff, and alumni from all University of Minnesota campuses. The event is free of charge and all levels of data expertise are welcome. 
  • More information and registration

The U-Spatial Mapping Prize celebrates great design and cartography through maps. There are cash prizes awarded in several categories. The submission deadline for the 2021 prizes is May 14, 2021. Complete information and links to previous winners can be found at the U-Spatial website.

Registration for the 2021 Design of Medical Devices Conference opens in January 2021. The conference will be held on April 12-15, 2021. Complete information can be found on the conference website.

10. Spring Tutorials:

Spring 2021 tutorials will be held remotely. The schedule and streaming details about the individual tutorials will be posted on the MSI website in January 2021.

Tutorials are also live-streamed on the MSI YouTube channel. Tutorials can also be viewed on the channel afterwards.

11. MSI Operations During COVID-19 Pandemic:

MSI staff are continuing to work from home. All MSI systems continue to be operational and can be accessed remotely. You can contact the MSI Help Desk for assistance by using the online Support Request Form, requesting a video consultation, or emailing

The MSI labs are closed while MSI staff are not working on campus. We are not processing access requests during this time. 

12. Requesting MSI Resources for COVID-19 Research:

The conditions surrounding the COVID-19 epidemic are changing fast and MSI staff want to do what we can to support and accelerate research and development that is directed toward solutions to this epidemic. If you are engaged in COVID-19 research, please contact us with a synopsis of your research and briefly describe how staff expertise or additional computational and data storage resources can help to advance and accelerate your research. We are working to develop “resource grants” for COVID-19 projects, which might include things like “code/workflow optimization,” “accelerated access to computing,” and “added allocations of storage” for COVID-19 related research. Your feedback will help us figure out how best to proceed. Please email withCOVID-19 Research” in the subject line.

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