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Research Computing Systems


Three people working with computer hardware


Research Computing Systems at the Geophysical Institute provides advanced computing, storage, data sharing solutions and research IT support to University of Alaska research communities, collaborators and supporters.



  511 Elvey Building 
  Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.


Proposal Support

Service Rates

High Performance Computing Condo Model (Chinook)

  Service Description Price $HOME Quota $CENTER1 Quota
Tier 1 Open to the UA research community using nodes procured for the community and unused portions of shareholder nodes. No cost for UA faculty, staff, and students 50 GB Project: 1 TB
Additional: $0.15/GB/yr*
Tier 2 For projects requiring runtimes beyond what is offered by Tier 1 or priority access to HPC resources. Approx. $9600/standard node for 3-yr membership 50 GB Project: 1 TB + 1 TB per node or equivalent investment
Approx. $9850/standard node for 4-yr membership
Approx. $10100/standard node for 5-yr membership Additional: $0.15/GB/yr*
Tier 3 For projects requiring dedicated HPC resources. Contact RCS Contact RCS Contact RCS


Online Spinning Disk
Lease Disk $0.12/GB/yr*
Purchase Disk Price of hardware, 20 hours labor install first year
Under Warranty: $5/TB/yr
Out of Warranty: $5/TB/yr + cost of replacement parts/drives + hourly labor for repair time
Additional copies on tape $0.05/GB/yr*
Offline Tape Archive ($ARCHIVE)
PI Quota 10 TB subsidized
Additional Quota $0.05/GB/yr*
Restricted Data Services (PENDING)
File Share No cost for UA faculty, staff, and students.
60 day purge policy.
Spinning Disk Storage $0.12/GB/yr*
Archive Storage 2 TB per UA PI

Virtual Machines

  CPU Memory Image Storage Price/year**
Limit: 1 per PI.
1 1 GB 20 GB $0
Small 1 2 GB 20 GB $180
Medium 2 4 GB 20 GB $360
Large 4 8 GB 20 GB $720

Web Hosting Options

UA Google Sites Free 
RCS Hosted Drupal or WordPress Cost of Virtual Machine + $300/year
Minimum VM Size: Small

*Offered in 100 GB increments.
**Includes backup of VM image.

Please contact RCS at for assistance to assess your project IT needs.

RCS services are for research projects and groups. Colleges, administrative offices and academic departments should contact OIT at

All services are subject to availability and rates are subject to change.

A minimum $25 per year will be charged for any unsubsidized services utilized.

Services are invoiced upfront annually at the start of the fiscal year.

Additional labor to support project development or implementation may be coordinated between a PI and RCS, and direct charged to an award fund/org with permission granted by the PI through a Work Authorization.


Facilities Statement

Access to the RCS Facilities Statement (requires UA login).


RCS Citation

Has your recent work using RCS resources resulted in publication? Please include the following text in your publication(s):

This work was supported in part by the high-performance computing and data storage resources operated by the Research Computing Systems Group at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute.


Proposal Support and Cost Estimates

Please contact RCS if additional proposal support or information is needed. Any project subject to data restrictions such as ITAR or NIST standards should also contact RCS for assistance. For current service rates please refer to our current Service Rates above.




New Users

Access to RCS resources requires that you be a member of a project established by a UA principal investigator. Tenured or tenure track faculty, research faculty and emeritus faculty are normally allowed to serve as a principal investigator. Other university employees, including staff, research associates or post-doctoral fellows, may not serve as principal investigators unless granted an exception by their institute director or academic dean with the approval of the UAF Office of Sponsored Programs.


UA Principal Investigator

To establish a new project please fill out the project account application form.

Principal investigators are responsible for the members, storage and other resource use of a project, and if additional resources are needed that are not covered by RCS subsidized services, procurement will be routed through the PI.

Prior to establishing a project the principal investigator should note any special data management needs such as any obligations on data security, how long data must be retained, and/or ITAR compliance, and notify RCS during the project creation process.


UA Collaborator

If you are a UA principal investigator wanting to collaborate with non-UA colleagues on RCS or UA systems, please email with the subject: "Guest Account Application." Please include your project name and the collaborator's first name, last name and email address. Sponsored user accounts expire annually on June 30.


UA Classes and Course Instructors

Instructors may request a project for their classes. Please complete a project account application form and user account application form, and provide a list of students and their UA usernames to be added to the class project. One TB of long-term, offline tape storage ($ARCHIVE) is provided for class projects. Student data stored in the high performant online spinning disk ($CENTER1) will be deleted annually at the end of the spring semester. Class accounts must be renewed annually.


UA Staff or Student

You will need to fill out a user account application form and the PI of your project must email RCS and request to add you as a member of their project. 


High Performance Computing

Are you interested in using the Chinook HPC cluster in your computational work? Please read our directions on how to obtain RCS project and user accounts.

In 2016, the Geophysical Institute launched Chinook as an energy efficient Linux cluster purchased from Penguin Computing, Inc. Chinook is the foundation for an energy-efficient, condo-style HPC cluster for UA researchers. The computing environment includes:

  • 100+ Relion 1900 Compute Nodes each with dual Intel Xeon 12- or 14-core processors (24 or 28 cores per node) and 128 GB memory
  • 3x Relion 1900 Compute Nodes each with dual Intel Xeon 14-core processors (28 cores per node) and 1.5 TB memory
  • 2x Relion 1903GT Compute Nodes each with dual Intel Xeon 14-core processors (28 cores per node), 128 GB memory, and 3 dual GPU Tesla K80m accelerators
  • Multiple login nodes with dual Intel Xeon processors and 48 or more GBs memory
  • CentOS operating system, Slurm open-source workload management software, and Scyld ClusterWare HPC management software
  • Compute and login node access to the 307 TB Lustre scratch file system
  • Login node access to the 7+ PB long term tape storage file systems

Chinook is named in honor of long time GI colleague Kevin Engle's unique, strong, collaborative nature and passion for salmon and Alaska. In 2016 and 2017, Chinook expansions were supported with funding from the M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust. Chinook is also made possible by the Geophysical Institute, IARC, the Institute of Arctic Biology, the UAF vice chancellor for research, and your fellow colleagues who contribute shares.

Chinook HPC Documentation



WiFi is available to UA students and employees through the eduroam or UAlaska networks. Visitor access is available via the UAGuest network.

To connect to the eduroam network from Linux, see these instructions (UA login required).



Access to some GI and RCS resources is restricted to the UA network and VPN. To connect to the VPN, see OIT's Cisco AnyConnect VPN Configuration Instructions page.


Port Activation

For Ethernet port activations, please contact



High-Performance Computing Storage

High-Performance Computing storage ($CENTER1) is fast, high throughput, scratch storage available to Chinook users. $CENTER1 is a Lustre filesystem best used for large files. Reading or writing many small files may result in a noticeable performance reduction. As a scratch workspace, data in $CENTER1 is not backed up. Files that need long-term storage should be copied to a different system or filesystem, such as $ARCHIVE.

Projects are subject to a quota in $CENTER1. Quotas may be checked using the “show_storage” command. Always check to see if there is storage available for your file to be written as files written that go over the quota may be truncated, unwritten, or block move and write access to the filesystem.

Subsidized quota: 1 TB


Online Spinning Disk

Online spinning disk is used to share data and VM storage. Data may be backed up automatically to $ARCHIVE for an additional service fee or principal investigators may back up online spinning disk data manually to their $ARCHIVE account using their subsidized 10 TB or any additional purchased $ARCHIVE storage. Online spinning disk storage will generally perform more slowly when used with high-performance computing.


Offline Tape Archive

The offline tape archive ($ARCHIVE) is a long-term storage solution for infrequently accessed data, such as retention of completed work or an archive of data. Data stored in $ARCHIVE is written out to magnetic tape and must be retrieved when copied to another filesystem, resulting in very slow access times. Files in $ARCHIVE should be copied or moved to another filesystem before modifying or using the files.

Principal investigators in $ARCHIVE are subject to quota. When quota is reached files may no longer be written, and a file that is currently being written to the filesystem may be truncated or deleted, and access to writing and moving files may be lost. It is always recommended to check that there is enough space to write your file. Quotas and current usage can be viewed with the “show_storage” command.

Subsidized quota: 10 TB per Project Investigator


Restricted Data Services

Launching in Winter 2019/2020

Restricted data services are for data with specific data guidelines such as NIST or ITAR requirements and cover file sharing and additional online spinning disk and $ARCHIVE storage. The restricted file share is available at no cost to UA faculty, staff and students, but all data will be purged after 60 days. Restricted $ARCHIVE is subsidized at 2 TB, and additional restricted online spinning disk and $ARCHIVE can be purchased according to RCS service rates.

If you are unsure if a project's data needs require the restricted data service, please contact RCS (


Storage Documentation

Software & Operating Systems

Proprietary software licenses hosted by RCS are made available to the UAF campus network. Please see the below links (log in using your UA credentials) for more information.

If you need assistance installing any of these, or any other software, contact RCS at

Web Services

Content Management Systems


Drupal is a popular open source content management system (CMS). The Drupal community provides thousands of themes and plugins to customize the appearance and functionality of websites. Its modular architecture makes Drupal an ideal choice for rapid development of virtually any type of website.

Examples of the many things that can be built with Drupal include:

  • Websites with complex access roles and editing privileges.
  • Conference websites with attendee abstract submission and review systems.
  • Audio/video content catalogs that are simultaneously served out as podcasts.
  • User-friendly databases with intricate tagging and searching systems to aid discovery.
  • API endpoints that integrate with other web applications or mobile apps.

For more information, see RCS provides full support for Drupal hosting, including consultation and development services.



WordPress is another popular CMS that is geared towards blogging. Like Drupal, the WordPress community provides thousands of themes and plugins to customize the appearance and functionality of your website. WordPress is best suited for:

  • Small-to-medium sized websites.
  • Websites with frequent blog entries and simple, static web pages.
  • Ease of use at the expense of flexibility.

For more information, see RCS provides limited support for WordPress hosting.


RCS Supported Features

  Drupal WordPress
File & Database Backups Yes Yes
Uptime & Performance Monitoring Yes Yes
Security Upgrades Yes Yes
SSL Yes Yes
Google Analytics Yes Yes
Static Archiving / Retirement Available Available
Consulting & Development Available Available
Domain Registration Available Available

Please contact to schedule a consultation to assess your website's needs.


Consulting / Development

RCS provides consulting and development services spanning many areas of web development, including:

  • Drupal
  • PHP
  • JavaScript / Node.js
  • Leaflet
  • MySQL
  • PostreSQL / PostGIS


Policies and Limitations

Limited to Research Projects & Groups

RCS web hosting services are for research projects and groups. Colleges, administrative offices and academic departments should contact OIT at


Security Updates

Security updates are performed automatically on RCS web hosts to prevent attacks and unauthorized access. In rare cases these updates may introduce compatibility issues that will need to be resolved. RCS is not responsible for fixing issues that arise from automated security updates, but PIs may open a Work Authorization to support consultation and development as needed.



Each website hosted at RCS expires at the end of each fiscal year unless renewed by the PI. PIs may coordinate with RCS to identify available archive options if a site has reached end-of-life.


Custom Domains

Custom domains (domains not ending in or can be purchased at additional cost. These domains must be managed by RCS. New domains will need to be purchased by RCS on the PI's behalf. Existing custom domains will need to be transferred to RCS.


Workstation Support

RCS provides workstation support to facilitate Geophysical Institute research. Researchers at the Geophysical Institute should contact for workstation support.

Administration staff should contact the OIT Help Desk for workstation support.


Supported Platforms

Linux, Windows and Mac (including Apple-certified repairs)



We keep a collection of cables, adaptors and peripherals on hand for use within the Geophysical Institute. Larger hardware components (e.g., monitors) must be checked out.


Licensed Software

We provide several licensed software packages for workstations. Other licensed software is provided to employees and students though OIT.