What is Kamiak?

Kamiak is a high performance computing cluster operated under the principles of the condominium computing model. Kamiak consists of a collection of compute nodes, management nodes, and high performance storage all of which is connected by a fast internal network. As a condominium, the compute nodes and storage are purchased and owned by Kamiak investors while the underlying infrastructure and support are provided by Kamiak sponsors.

What are the advantages of Kamiak?

Kamiak benefits the WSU computational research community by providing a robust, professionally administered, scalable compute environment. Designed for both reliability and speed, Kamiak provides a venue in which simulations can run be for extended periods of time across hundreds of cores.

Can anyone use Kamiak?

There are several levels of engagement available to researchers who wish to use Kamiak. At the highest level, members of the WSU research community may invest directly in Kamiak by purchasing compute nodes. Those nodes will be owned by the investor and administered by the Kamiak team. Investors are guaranteed on-demand, immediate access to the nodes they own. At the next level, sponsoring institutions have purchased compute resources and made them available to researchers affiliated with their institution. Finally, all users can run computations in our backfill queue. These backfill jobs will run on what would otherwise be idle resources.

How do I use Kamiak?

Kamiak user accounts can be requested by going to the Service Desk. Once you have access to Kamiak, you can log in from your terminal using ssh. This will connect you to one of the Kamiak login nodes. From here you can manage your files, submit jobs and monitor your project. You should not run programs on the login nodes. For more information see the Quick Start Guide or the more extensive User’s Guide.

Who can invest in Kamiak?

Any member of the WSU research community may invest in Kamiak by purchasing compute nodes or storage to be installed in the cluster. A list of approved hardware can be found on the Become an Investor page.

Who provides the Kamiak Cyber-Infrastructure and support?

Both the infrastructure and support for Kamiak has been provided by the Kamiak Sponsors. Their generous contributions have purchased the racks, chassis, network switches, etc. that house and support the investors’ compute nodes. Sponsors also fund the staff needed to support and administer Kamiak. Sponsors include


  • College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences – CAHNRS
  • College of Arts and Sciences – CAS
  • Office of Research
  • Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture – VCEA
  • WSU Information Technology Services

I haven’t invested in Kamiak; can I still use the cluster?

Yes. While priority access is given to Kamiak investors, the cluster is open to the entire WSU research community. Anyone with a WSU NID can obtain an account on Kamiak. However, only those who are affiliated with an investor or investor/sponsor will have on-demand access to compute resources. All others have access to idle compute resources through the backfill queue. Each user is also given a 10GB home directory for personal storage, and access to temporary scratch storage. Those who are looking for long term storage in addition to the 10GB home spaces can purchase project storage space in 100GB increments through our Service Desk. Members of Kamiak Sponsoring institutions may also request an allotment from their Sponsor’s storage space.

How does the backfill queue work?

The backfill queue is designed to capture idle compute resources on investor hardware without impeding investor access. This is accomplished through job preemption. When a compute job is submitted to the backfill queue, it runs on any available idle resource that meets the jobs requirements (number of cores, amount of RAM, etc). If the owner of that resource submits their own job while a backfill job is running, then the backfill job will be preempted and returned to the backfill queue to be resubmitted to the next available idle resource. In this way we can guarantee on-demand, immediate access to our investors while still offering compute to the larger research community.


Investors also have access to the backfill queue.  Additionally, since all compute nodes are included in the backfill queue users can access accelerators such as GPUs and Intel Xeon Phi.

I’m a member of a Sponsoring College; how do I get access to my College’s resources?

Currently, CAHNRS, CAS, and VCEA have purchased compute nodes and storage on Kamiak for use by their faculty, staff, and students. Kamiak users who would like access to these resources should contact their Colleges Kamiak representative for approval. The representatives are


  • CAHNRS – Bill Bonner
  • CAS – Wade Lafferty
  • VCEA – Tony Burt

Is Kamiak connected to the HSSRC?

Yes. Kamiak is connected to the High Speed Scalable Research Core (HSSRC) via two 40Gb/s connections. This is to facilitate the high-speed movement of data to and from Kamiak. This allows users to share data with peer institutions or pull in datasets hosted outside of Kamiak.

Can I buy storage space separate from compute hardware?

Yes. Storage on Kamiak is available for lease in 100GB or 500GB increments over a fixed time frame. For pricing see the Become an Investor page.

Can I purchase hardware that is not on the service sheet?

We are currently only installing hardware from the list of pre-approved architectures. If none of the available compute options meet your needs please contact our Service Desk and we will attempt to find a solution that works for you.

I have existing hardware, will you install it in Kamiak?

No. Only newly purchased hardware may be installed in the Kamiak cluster.

Can I use Kamiak as something other than a compute server, e.g. a Web or database server?

Generally, no. If your software stack requires the use of a Web server or database, one option is to run one within a job as described here. Kamiak was designed solely as a compute cluster and lacks the infrastructure to support hosting persistent database and Web servers. You can host such a server elsewhere (cloud providers, hosting services of ITS or CAHNRS, etc.) and access it from compute jobs on Kamiak.