MSI Users Bulletin - June 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 contact the Help Desk via email at or using the online Support Request Form. Phone and in-person support are not available during reduced University operations.

MSI Users pipeline information

1. MSI Operations During COVID-19 Pandemic:

MSI staff will continue to work from home until the University returns to normal operations. 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

2. 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.

3. COVID-19 Risk Factor Modeling Challenge:

The Veterans Health Administration Innovation Ecosystem is holding a COVID-19 Risk Factor Modeling Challenge. The challenge runs through July 3, 2020.

The goal of the challenge is to use provided datasets to create algorithms to model the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection and severe outcomes of COVID-19 in veterans. The model will predict COVID-19 status, days hospitalized, days in the ICU, controlled ventilation status, and mortality for each synthetic veteran in the dataset. The model will be evaluated for each of the five predicted outcomes. Selected participants will be publicly recognized and invited to contribute to a scientific manuscript about the challenge and results. Selected participants may also have opportunities to present at a conference and continue solution development with the VHA Innovation Ecosystem. 

Complete information can be found on the challenge website

4. Transition to SLURM:

MSI will be transitioning from Torque/MOAB/MAM to SLURM by the end of 2020. The price of Torque/MOAB is more than doubling, and it has had increasing problems with the job load at MSI. SLURM has better performance and is open source, with a support contract costing less than half of what we’re currently paying for Torque/MOAB. SLURM has plugins that facilitate running containers and Hadoop, and for dynamically allocating scratch disk for jobs. It is also now more commonly used than Torque/MOAB at other HPC centers.

The current plan is to begin executing the final steps for migration beginning September 1, 2020, with the switch being complete by January 1, 2021. More information will be sent out over the next few months.

5. Mesabi +1:

MSI has begun the acquisition process for the new supercomputing system, with the delivery date planned for Spring 2021. The next system is planned to increase Mangi’s capacity by a factor of four, and will support increased demand for GPUs and larger memory.

New rates for purchased services have been set for FY21. They will take effect on July 1, 2020. The chart can be found on the Service Catalog page of the MSI website. 

The acquisition process for the new HIPAA cluster has begun and will continue over the summer. We hope to take delivery in October 2020, but this may be affected by delays in the supply chain.

8. Programming and Pizza:

Experienced programmers from Libraries, Liberal Arts Technology and Innovation Services, and Research Computing are available to help you out with your programming issues. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, DASH has suspended the monthly sessions of Programming and Pizza. However, you can still sign up for a one-to-one consultation held virtually. Email with “Programming & Pizza” in the subject line, and share a bit about your research question. DASH will do their best to match you with a programmer.

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