What is the XSEDE Compatible Basic Cluster (XCBC)?

The XSEDE Compatible Basic Cluster (XCBC) is a standard set of packages designed to streamline the process of configuring high- performance, parallel computing clusters that are comparable to (and compatible with) Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) digital services.

The current incarnation of the XCBC is based on the OpenHPC project, which has strong support from both industrial and academic institutions. (The previous version was based on the Rocks cluster distribution solution.) The new XCBC uses the CentOS 7 operating system, by default, and the Warewulf Cluster Management software used by the OpenHPC project.

Building an XCBC system can be done either with real hardware or virtual machines. Exact documentation is available from the XCBC GitHub repository. In brief, building an XCBC system involves cloning the repository and running the included Ansible playbooks (after modifying the variables file to reflect your local situation; specific details on this are given in the technical documentation). The playbooks can be run either on the cluster's head node (after CentOS 7 is installed) or from a remote machine with SSH access to the head node.

The playbooks are set up to be run in step-by-step fashion. They take you through the process of installing the OpenHPC tools, configuring the head node, adding compute nodes to the Warewulf database, and configuring the scheduler. The XCBC currently includes templates for "plain" compute nodes, login nodes, and NVIDIA GPU-based nodes.

The XCBC is configured to use the XSEDE National Integration Toolkit (XNIT) repository as a source for scientific software. Both the XCBC and the XNIT are distributed at no cost for use by the US science community.