Accounts and Allocations
All USC students, staff, and faculty have access to the Center for Advanced Research Computing's systems for their research projects. CARC offers different types and sizes of computing and storage resource allocations for these projects.
Access to CARC systems
In order to access CARC's systems, you must either be the Principal Investigator (PI) of a research project or an authorized member of a PI's research project.
CARC systems are accessed using your USC NetID and password, so there is no additional requirement for CARC-specific account creation.
Note: Your USC NetID is the first part of your USC email address (e.g., email@example.com's NetID is ttrojan).
A connection to the USC network, either via direct connection or a USC VPN, is also required. For instructions on how to set up a VPN connection, please see the Introduction to CARC page.
Duo two-factor authentication is required to access the VPNs. If you have not already signed up for Duo on your USC NetID account, please visit this page to enroll.
Access to and use of resources is based on participation in projects. Project setup and resource allocation requests must be made by a project's PI using the CARC User Portal. Detailed instructions for project and resource management are available in the CARC User Portal user guides.
Principal Investigator (PI) eligibility
PhD-level researchers, which include faculty, research staff, and postdocs (but not PhD students), are eligible for PI status, which is required for project creation and allocation requests. If you're eligible for PI status, the CARC User Portal will recognize this when you log in and you will automatically be granted PI permissions (account creation, resource requests, adding users to a project, etc.).
If you believe you're eligible for PI status but this isn't reflected in the CARC User Portal, please submit a help ticket to CARC.
Discovery computing resource allocations
CARC offers three types of computing resource allocations on the Discovery cluster: class, graduate student project, and research. Both resources are measured by system units (SUs). SUs are determined by CPU, memory, and GPU usage combined with job run time. More details on resource allocations can be found in our Running Jobs guide. Computing resource allocations can be requested in the CARC User Portal by a project's PI.
The class allocation supports academic classes with limited size and timeline. It supports up to 600,000 SUs and expires at the end of a semester. Faculty who need a class allocation should request this resource in the CARC User Portal at least two weeks before the beginning of the semester.
Graduate student project (GSP) allocations
The graduate student project (GSP) allocation supports up to 6,000,000 SUs and is designed for students who conduct research work that is separate from a PI's main research project. A PI can create a project for students and request a new GSP allocation for it in the CARC User Portal. A student seeking a GSP allocation still requires their PI/advisor to create the project and request the allocation for them, as only a PI can do this.
Note: This allocation was designed for graduate students, but a PI may also create this allocation for undergraduate students that they advise.
The research allocation has three size tiers depending on the computational needs of the associated projects. The allocation usually starts in the new fiscal year, and it must be renewed annually at the end of each fiscal year to continue use of the allocation. Requests for new research allocations and renewals must be submitted 30 days prior to the start of the allocation period/new fiscal year.
The table below shows a summary of the computing allocation tiers and their sizes.
|Size (in SUs)
Endeavour computing resource allocations
Endeavour is CARC's HPC condo cluster. As part of the Condo Cluster Program (CCP), researchers can purchase or subscribe to their own dedicated compute nodes. The CCP gives researchers the convenience of having their own dedicated compute nodes, without the responsibility of purchasing and maintaining the nodes themselves.
The CCP operates on both an annual subscription-based model, with research groups subscribing to their selected number of compute nodes on a yearly basis, as well as a traditional purchase model, with research groups purchasing compute nodes from CARC for a fixed term (e.g., five years). For more information on the computing resources available on Endeavour, see the Condo Cluster Program Information page.
Project storage resource allocations
All active projects are eligible for a storage allocation on the CARC /project file system. Storage allocations are measured using disk space in terabytes (1 terabyte is equivalent to 1,000 gigabytes). Each PI can request up to 10 TB of storage across their project(s) at no cost.
PIs must request storage allocations in the CARC User Portal. When requesting a new storage allocation, the default minimum allocation size is 5 TB per project. All users for a project will have access to that project's allocation.
If more than 10 TB is needed, a PI can request additional storage space at a cost. Additional storage can be added in increments of 5 TB, and the current price is $40/TB/year. For example, when a PI requires 20 TB total of space, the annual cost for the data storage space will be:
20 TB per year = 10 TB free + (10 x $40/TB/year) = $400 annual cost
If you're requesting a new storage allocation and require more than 10 TB, you can request your allocation in the User Portal and indicate the amount of storage you need (in 5 TB increments). See the Request New Allocation user guide for more information.
If you have an existing storage allocation but would like to increase the amount of storage, please submit a help ticket under the "Accounts/Access" category. Please include your project ID, desired allocation size, and reason for this increase. The CARC team will consult with you to determine your needs and the total cost.
Cryo-EM storage allocations
Cryo-EM research has a dedicated /cryoem2 file system with 1.4 PB of space. Allocations are requested in the User Portal the same way as the Project file system. See the Request New Allocation user guide for instructions. Cryo-EM storage allocations can be requested in 5 TB increments.
Cyro-EM storage space does not have a free tier like the Project file system. The current price is $40/TB/year. Users can request a decrease in their /project storage allocation to offset costs, if needed.
Currently, CARC systems do not support the use or storage of sensitive data. If your research work includes sensitive data, including but not limited to HIPAA-, FERPA-, or CUI-regulated data, see our Secure Computing user guides or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org before using our systems.
Yearly renewal of allocations
The duration of computing and storage resource allocations is one year. Each year, PIs must renew their projects and associated allocations in the CARC User Portal. Changes to allocation sizes or types can be made during this renewal. Failure to apply for a renewal will result in the deletion of all data and the space will become available for use by other users.
For more information on yearly project renewals, see the Yearly Project Renewal user guide.