Technology for Research: High Performance Computing

  • Faculty & Staff

High Performance Computing (HPC)

Although desktop computers continue to get more powerful every year, many researchers in SAS find that they need more computing power than a desktop can provide. High Performance Computing, or HPC, encompasses a wide variety of specialized computing processes that require lots of computing power in the form of many cores, a large amount of system memory, or even many such computers connected together in a cluster.

These researchers might need a computing system that can crunch very large amounts of data, handle the complexity of millions of iterations in a simulation program, or execute jobs that require massively parallel calculations.



In the School of Arts and Sciences, researchers have several options for HPC, depending on their needs and the resources.

  • GPC: The new General Purpose Cluster, or GPC, provides high-performance computing resources to researchers who need at least some access to HPC but don't necessarily need to make the investment in a privately managed cluster.
  • Private computing cluster: Some faculty with very big, long-term research projects that require a lot of computing power purchase their own computing cluster in consultation with the ISUS group. The System Administrators in ISUS provide support for every step from advising and consulting on the purchase to contracting for management of the cluster in one of our data centers. Please email to initiate this conversation.
  • Social Sciences Computing (SSC): There are some shared servers for HPC in the Social Sciences departments; interested users can request an account on those servers, including Tesla and Hawk.


HPC at Penn

  • PMACS at PSOM: The Penn Medicine Academic Computing Support (PMACS) department has invested in a large, on-premises HPC environment where computing power can be rented by the core-hour by anyone at Penn, not only PSOM researchers. 


HPC Grants from the NSF

  • XSEDE: The Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment, or XSEDE, is supported by the National Science Foundation. XSEDE makes supercomputers, massive data sets, and some expertise available to researchers who apply for and are awarded a grant. Interested researchers can contact our Campus Champion to get help and advice on the grant submission process. 


For Further Assistance

For assistance with any of the above options or if you do not see something that you are looking for, please contact your LSP, who can provide additional information and expertise to help you find the right resource.