How to Beagle

Updated: May 1, 2019

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Beagle clusters serve as an extension of gizmo into AWS cloud infrastructure. It is an alternative way to send your sbatch jobs to clusters other than gizmo. The transition is easy: use sbatch in a similar manner as on gizmo and add -M beagle to the command. The complete beagle cluster user guide is here on SciComp’s wiki. Below is a just quick start.

What is Beagle?

Beagle can be seen as an extension of our on-premise computing cluster gizmo into AWS cloud infrastructure. To make transitioning as easy as possible for users, we’ve retained the familiar Slurm workload manager as well as extending on-campus storage to this system. Thus, your files - shared fast directories, your home directory, the shared app tools directory - are all available at the same paths as on the gizmo compute nodes.

One significant difference in file systems is that the scratch file system is unique to Beagle and is in a different path. The scratch directory created by slurm is in /mnt/beagle/scratch. Temporary storage is available in /mnt/beagle/delete10 with subdirectories based on PI or group name.

Thus, all that is typically necessary are small changes to the Slurm commands to enable your jobs to run on Beagle nodes.

Note: Access to data is much slower than access on campus. On IO intensive workloads you may see up to a 3x slowdown on overall time to complete a job. See the section “Improving Data Performance” for further information on addressing this performance bottleneck.

Basic use

To summit a job, use sbatch in a similar manner as on gizmo and add -M beagle to the command:

sbatch -M beagle -n1

This will request one CPU on an F class node (16GB RAM and four cores). This job will share CPU and memory with other jobs.

Managing jobs

Similarly, use squeue, sacct and scancel and add -M beagle to the command.

squeue -M beagle -u <my_username>

Note that srun and salloc do not support the -M option: for interactive use you need to first log into the host fitzroy where you can run any of the Slurm commands without -M.


There are three classes available: F, G and H, each of which has 16GB, 60GB and 244GB of RAM, respectively. The default partition is campus which contains only F class nodes. The other two classes of nodes are in the largenode partition.

Class CPUs RAM Partition
F 4 16GB campus, c5.2xlarge
G 18 60 GB largenode, c5.9xlarge
H 16 244GB largenode, r4.8xlarge

Use -p <partition name> to select the partition. When selecting the largenode partition you will get a G node unless you request more memory than available on the G class.


Limits on Beagle are enforced in the same way as they are on gizmo: 300 core limit per PI. The limits are typically higher and can be increased upon request.

Improving Performance


Access to data in Beagle is currently a significant bottleneck for job performance. To address this we are making available what we’re calling cache-fast on the beagle nodes. This is a read only and day old copy of some fast file directories. The primary purpose of this file server is as a disaster-recovery copy of data, but we’ve re-purposed it to improve data access performance. It’s available under the path /fh/cache-fast and from that point has the same structure as fast file.

The real problem with using fast file in Beagle is read performance as write performance is actually quite reasonable. Thus, you will see significant improvement by using the cache-fast directory to read in data and the fast directory to write out results. The process would be something like:

  • read in data from /fh/cache-fast/directory_p/path/to/data/file
  • process data
  • write data out to /fh/fast/directory_p/path/to/results

Read performance is significantly improved, up to 10 times faster. However, it is important to note that this cached view can be up to 24 hours old. There is a nightly process that synchronizes fast file to the cache.

Staging into Scratch

There is scratch space available in the path /mnt/beagle/delete10 that can be used to stage data into and out of Beagle. This is a file server that is in the same location as Beagle so we have much better performance compared to accessing fast directly.


Basic: partition on campus (F class)

sbatch -M beagle

Partition on G class without sharing

sbatch -M beagle --exclusive -n1 -p largenode

If --exclusive and -p largenode are set, you get the whole computer with 18 cores and 60 GB RAM (if assigned a G class node) and will not share with others.

Partition on G class with one task and a few cores:

sbatch -M beagle -n1 -c4 -p largenode

This assigns four cores to your job. Without using --exclusive the job may share CPU and memory with other jobs.

Get a larger allocation on an H node

sbatch -M beagle --mem=200G -p largenode

Note that when you add the memory request your job will be limited to that amount- if it should exceed 200GB, the job will be terminated.

Updated: May 1, 2019

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