Generic Resource (GRES) Scheduling

Generic resource (GRES) scheduling is supported through a flexible plugin mechanism. Support is currently provided for Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) and Intel® Many Integrated Core (MIC) processors.


Slurm supports no generic resources in the default configuration. One must explicitly specify which resources are to be managed in the slurm.conf configuration file. The configuration parameters of interest are:

  • GresTypes a comma delimited list of generic resources to be managed (e.g. GresTypes=gpu,mic). This name may be that of an optional plugin providing additional control over the resources.
  • Gres the generic resource configuration details in the format
    The first field is the resource name, which matches the GresType configuration parameter name. The optional type field might be used to identify a model of that generic resource. A generic resource can also be specified as non-consumable (i.e. multiple jobs can use the same generic resource) with the optional field ":no_consume". The final field must specify a generic resource count. A suffix of "K", "M" or "G" may be used to multiply the count by 1024, 1048576 or 1073741824 respectively. By default a node has no generic resources and its maximum count is 4,294,967,295.

Note that the Gres specification for each node works in the same fashion as the other resources managed. Depending upon the value of the FastSchedule parameter, nodes which are found to have fewer resources than configured will be placed in a DOWN state.

Sample slurm.conf file:

# Configure support for our four GPUs
NodeName=tux[0-7] Gres=gpu:tesla:2,gpu:kepler:2,bandwidth:lustre:no_consume:4G

Each compute node with generic resources must also contain a gres.conf file describing which resources are available on the node, their count, associated device files and cores which should be used with those resources. The configuration parameters available are:

  • Name name of a generic resource (must match GresTypes values in slurm.conf ).
  • Count Number of resources of this type available on this node. The default value is set to the number of File values specified (if any), otherwise the default value is one. A suffix of "K", "M" or "G" may be used to multiply the number by 1024, 1048576 or 1073741824 respectively (e.g. "Count=10G"). Note that Count is a 32-bit field and the maximum value is 4,294,967,295.
  • Cores Specify the first thread CPU index numbers for the specific cores which can use this resource. For example, it may be strongly preferable to use specific cores with specific devices (e.g. on a NUMA architecture). Multiple cores may be specified using a comma delimited list or a range may be specified using a "-" separator (e.g. "0,1,2,3" or "0\-3"). If specified, then only the identified cores can be allocated with each generic resource; an attempt to use other cores will not be honored. If not specified, then any core can be used with the resources, which also increases the speed of Slurm's scheduling algorithm. If any core can be effectively used with the resources, then do not specify the Cores option for improved speed in the Slurm scheduling logic. NOTE: If your cores contain multiple threads only list the first thread of each core. The logic is such that it uses core instead of thread scheduling per GRES. Also note that since Slurm must be able to perform resource management on heterogeneous clusters having various core ID numbering schemes, an abstract index will be used instead of the physical core index. That abstract id may not correspond to your physical core number. Basically Slurm starts numbering from 0 to n, being 0 the id of the first processing unit (core or thread if HT is enabled) on the first socket, first core and maybe first thread, and then continuing sequentially to the next thread, core, and socket. The numbering generally coincides with the processing unit logical number (PU L#) seen in lstopo output.
  • File Fully qualified pathname of the device files associated with a resource. The name can include a numeric range suffix to be interpreted by Slurm (e.g. File=/dev/nvidia[0-3]). This field is generally required if enforcement of generic resource allocations are to be supported (i.e. prevents a user from making use of resources allocated to a different user). Enforcement of the file allocation relies upon Linux Control Groups (cgroups) and Slurm's task/cgroup plugin, which will place the allocated files into the job's cgroup and prevent use of other files. Please see Slurm's Cgroups Guide for more information.
    If File is specified then Count must be either set to the number of file names specified or not set (the default value is the number of files specified). NOTE: If you specify the File parameter for a resource on some node, the option must be specified on all nodes and Slurm will track the assignment of each specific resource on each node. Otherwise Slurm will only track a count of allocated resources rather than the state of each individual device file.
  • Type Optionally specify the device type. For example, this might be used to identify a specific model of GPU, which users can then specify in their job request. If Type is specified, then Count is limited in size (currently 1024).

Sample gres.conf file:

# Configure support for our four GPUs, plus bandwidth
Name=gpu Type=tesla  File=/dev/nvidia0 Cores=0,1
Name=gpu Type=tesla  File=/dev/nvidia1 Cores=0,1
Name=gpu Type=kepler File=/dev/nvidia2 Cores=2,3
Name=gpu Type=kepler File=/dev/nvidia3 Cores=2,3
Name=bandwidth Type=lustre Count=4G

Running Jobs

Jobs will not be allocated any generic resources unless specifically requested at job submit time using the --gres option supported by the salloc, sbatch and srun commands. The option requires an argument specifying which generic resources are required and how many resources. The resource specification is of the form name[:type:count]. The name is the same name as specified by the GresTypes and Gres configuration parameters. type identifies a specific type of that generic resource (e.g. a specific model of GPU). count specifies how many resources are required and has a default value of 1. For example:
sbatch --gres=gpu:kepler:2 ....

Jobs will be allocated specific generic resources as needed to satisfy the request. If the job is suspended, those resources do not become available for use by other jobs.

Job steps can be allocated generic resources from those allocated to the job using the --gres option with the srun command as described above. By default, a job step will be allocated all of the generic resources allocated to the job. If desired, the job step may explicitly specify a different generic resource count than the job. This design choice was based upon a scenario where each job executes many job steps. If job steps were granted access to all generic resources by default, some job steps would need to explicitly specify zero generic resource counts, which we considered more confusing. The job step can be allocated specific generic resources and those resources will not be available to other job steps. A simple example is shown below.

# gres_test.bash
# Submit as follows:
# sbatch --gres=gpu:4 -n4 -N1-1 gres_test.bash
srun --gres=gpu:2 -n2 --exclusive &
srun --gres=gpu:1 -n1 --exclusive &
srun --gres=gpu:1 -n1 --exclusive &

GPU Management

In the case of Slurm's GRES plugin for GPUs, the environment variable CUDA_VISIBLE_DEVICES is set for each job step to determine which GPUs are available for its use on each node. This environment variable is only set when tasks are launched on a specific compute node (no global environment variable is set for the salloc command and the environment variable set for the sbatch command only reflects the GPUs allocated to that job on that node, node zero of the allocation). CUDA version 3.1 (or higher) uses this environment variable in order to run multiple jobs or job steps on a node with GPUs and ensure that the resources assigned to each are unique. In the example above, the allocated node may have four or more graphics devices. In that case, CUDA_VISIBLE_DEVICES will reference unique devices for each file and the output might resemble this:


NOTE: Be sure to specify the File parameters in the gres.conf file and ensure they are in the increasing numeric order.

MIC Management

Slurm can be used to provide resource management for systems with the Intel® Many Integrated Core (MIC) processor. Slurm sets an OFFLOAD_DEVICES environment variable, which controls the selection of MICs available to a job step. The OFFLOAD_DEVICES environment variable is used by both Intel LEO (Language Extensions for Offload) and the MKL (Math Kernel Library) automatic offload. (This is very similar to how the CUDA_VISIBLE_DEVICES environment variable is used to control which GPUs can be used by CUDA™ software.) If no MICs are reserved via GRES, the OFFLOAD_DEVICES variable is set to -1. This causes the code to ignore the offload directives and run MKL routines on the CPU. The code will still run but only on the CPU. This also gives a somewhat cryptic warning:

offload warning: OFFLOAD_DEVICES device number -1 does not correspond
to a physical device

The offloading is automatically scaled to all the devices, (e.g. if --gres=mic:2 is defined) then all offloads use two MICs unless explicitly defined in the offload pragmas.

Last modified 7 November 2017