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The Research & High-Performance Computing Support group provides various levels of computing support to the research and high-performance computing communities at McMaster.

Advanced / High-Performance Computing

A growing number of research fields require A/HPC as a key component of their tool-chests. RHPCS was formed with a mandate to support advanced and high-performance computing installations as a central part of the university infrastructure. Our services include:

  • Recommending hardware configurations and getting vendor quotes for funding grant applications
  • Site planning and configuration
  • Hardware and software installation and administration
  • Application software development, user management, integration with desktop systems

Desktop and server System Administration

System administration support for research computing falls roughly into three categories:

  • on-going system management under annual contract;
  • system-management tasks charged according to time and materials;
  • consultation re. system/software problems;
Contract System Administration

Administration of Unix systems is our bread and butter. But research computing clusters are never homogeneous, so that administration includes network administration as well as managing file and printer sharing and backup services for Windows and MacOS systems. Departments or research groups pay an annual fee, based on an average number of hours of service per week. Administration includes installation, configuration, security, patches and upgrades, software installation and user administration, but the exact description varies somewhat from group to group. We support most major version of Unix (including Mac OS X) as well as configuring and maintaining linux servers for MS Windows research clusters. In general, the larger the contract, the more room there is for flexibility in the exact arrangements. Contact Ranil Sonnadara or Todd Pfaff for more information.

System Management Tasks

RHPCS may be contracted on a time-and-materials basis to do installation, configuration and system work for groups who do not have a support contract or who need work beyond the scope of their contract. These jobs can only be undertaken when staff are not fully occupied with regular support work, and are billed at a standard rate of $120 / hr. Contact Ranil Sonnadara or Todd Pfaff for more information.

System and Software Problems

RHPCS can provide consultation to researchers without contracts on a first-come, first-served basis, depending on staff availability. That is: we can't promise to help, but we'll certainly try. Again, consultations are billed at our standard rate of r$120 / hr. Contact the RHPCS analysts for help or information.

Other Research Computing Support

These services are available to the research community on a no-charge, first-come first-served basis:

  • Consultation re. purchases and equipment grant applications
  • Graphics and visualization
  • Strategic planning at the institutional level
Purchase Consultation

RHPCS can provide advice on equipment purchases based on the requirements of your research and the size of the user group. This includes getting quotes from vendors, help with preparing the technical specifications for RFPs and ensuring compliance with the proposal requirements of the granting agencies.

Graphics and Visualization

RHPCS is developing support services in graphics application consultation & software. The graphics and visualization Research Engineer may be seconded to research groups to develop visualization applications. Two pilot projects have been completed. The mechanism for applying for programmer services is being developed. Interested researchers should contact RHPCS. We welcome input from the research community regarding your requirements in this area. Contact

Strategic Planning

RHPCS provides assistance to the Office of Research Services and equipment grant proposers by seeking to leverage the university investment in research computing infrastructure through negotiating with vendors for site licenses and discounts, providing staff management for contract support staff, and through encouraging the use of shared institutional facilities (e.g. SHARCNET) where feasible.

Our rates

You can check our current rates here.