The VSC account
In order to use the infrastructure of the VSC, you need a VSC-userid, also called a VSC account. The account gives you access to most of the infrastructure, though only with a limited compute time allocation on some of the systems. Also, For the main Tier-1 compute cluster you need to submit a project application (or you should be covered by a project application within your research group). For some more specialised hardware you have to ask access separately, typically to the coordinator of your institution, because we want to be sure that that (usually rather expensive hardware) is used efficiently for the type of applications for which it was purchased.
Who can get a VSC account?
- Researchers at the Flemish university associations. In many cases, this is done through a fully automated application process, but in some cases you must submit a request to your local support team. Specific details about these procedures can be found on the "Account request" page in the user documentation.
- Master students in the framework of their master thesis if supercomputing is needed for the thesis. For this, you will first need the approval of your supervisor. The details about the procedure can again be found on the "Account request" page in the user documentation.
- Use in courses at the University of Leuven and Hasselt University: Lecturers can also use the local Tier-2 infrastructure in the context of some courses (when the software cannot run in the PC classes or the computers in those classes are not powerful enough). Again, you can find all the details about the application process on the "Account request" page in the user documentation. It is important that the application is submitted on time, at least two weeks before the start of the computer sessions.
- Researchers from iMinds and VIB. The application is made through your host university. The same applies to researchers at the university hospitals and research institutes under the direction or supervision of a university or a university college, such as the special university institutes mentioned in Article 169quater of the Decree of 12 June 1991 concerning universities in the Flemish Community.
- Researchers at other Flemish public research institutions: You can get compute on the Tier-1 infrastructure through a project application or access the Tier-2 infrastructure through contact with one of the coordinators.
- Businesses, non-Flemish public knowledge institutions and not-for-profit organisations can buy compute time on the infrastructure. The procedures are explained on the page "Buying compute time".
Before you apply for VSC account, it is useful to first check whether the infrastructure is suitable for your application. Windows or OS X programs for instance cannot run on our infrastructure as we use the Linux operating system on the clusters. The infrastructure also should not be used to run applications for which the compute power of a good laptop is sufficient. The pages on the Tier-1 and Tier-2 infrastructure in this part of the website give a high-level description of our infrastructure. You can find more detailed information in the user documentation on the user portal. When in doubt, you can also contact your local support team. This does not require a VSC account.
You should also first check the page "Account request" in the user documentation and install the necessary software on your PC. You can also find links to information about that software on the “Account Request” page.
Furthermore, it can also be useful to take one of the introductory courses that we organise periodically at all universities. However, it is best to apply for your VSC account before the course since you also can then also do the exercises during the course. We strongly urge people who are not familiar with the use of a Linux supercomputer to take such a course. After all, we do not have enough staff to help everyone individually for all those generic issues.
There is an exception to the rule that you need a VSC account to access the VSC systems: Users with a valid VUB account can access the Tier-2 systems at the VUB.
Your account also includes two “blocks” of disk space: your home directory and data directory. Both are accessible from all VSC clusters. When you log in to a particular cluster, you will also be assigned one or more blocks of temporary disk space, called scratch directories. Which directory should be used for which type of data, is explained in the user documentation.
Your VSC account does not give you access to all available software. You can use all free software and a number of compilers and other development tools. For most commercial software, you must first prove that you have a valid license or the person who has paid the license on the cluster must allow you to use the license. For this you can contact your local support team.