Running jobs in Slurm#

VSC clusters using the Slurm job scheduler

UAntwerp (AUHA)
KU Leuven/UHasselt


Other clusters might use the Torque job scheduler

This page covers the more basic Slurm use, including starting jobs, basic job management and some templates for job scripts for various scenarios. It is the minimum a user should master. A second page describes more advanced use of Slurm.

Since the start of the VSC, Torque and Moab were used as the resource manager and scheduler respectively. The resource manager is responsible for keeping track of resources and making sure jobs use the resources allocated to them. The scheduler is the piece of software that prioritises jobs that are waiting in the queue and decides which job can start with which resources. It is clear that both have to work together very closely. Torque and Moab were developed and supported by Adaptive Computing. This company was acquired by ALA Services Technology Companies. Since then the software isn’t well supported anymore, resulting in problems to keep it running on our systems.

Therefore, the decision was taken to transfer to a different resource manager and scheduler software. Slurm Workload Manager was chosen due to its wide use in academic supercomputer centres. We’ve been preparing for this switch for over two years now by stressing in the introductory courses those features of Torque and Moab that resemble Slurm features the most.

Slurm Workload Manager is also used on the clusters at UGent (but with a wrapper that still accepts Torque job scripts with some limitations) and will also be the scheduler on Hortense, the successor of the BrENIAC Tier-1 system.

Historically, Slurm was an acronym of Simple Linux Utility for Resource Management. The development started around 2002 at Lawrence Livermore National Lab as a resource manager for Linux clusters. Slurm has always had a very modular architecture. From 2008 on increasingly sophisticated scheduling plugins were added to Slurm. Nowadays it is used on some of the largest systems in the world. Slurm is completely open source though commercial support can be obtained from SchedMD, a spin-off company of the Slurm development.


Glossary of concepts and terms related to Slurm


A node is (commonly) the largest part of the cluster running a single operating system image, and hence capable of supporting a shared memory program. Nodes are connected with each other through an interconnect, and communication between nodes is done via message passing.


The CPU is the Computer Processing Unit. Each node in a cluster can have one or multiple CPUs and each CPU has multiple cores capable of executing compute instructions.


A core is the smallest processor of the CPU. It can execute a single thread of instructions.


Groups of nodes with limits and access controls, basically the equivalent of a queue in Torque. A node can be part of multiple partitions.


A resource allocation request.

Job step

A set of (possibly parallel) tasks within a job. A job can consist of just a single job step or can contain multiple job steps which may use all or just a part of the resource allocation of a job and can run sequentially or in parallel (or a mix of that). The job script itself is a special job step, called the batch job step, but additional job steps can be created (e.g., for running a parallel MPI application).


A task is executed within a job step and essentially corresponds to a Linux process: a single- or multithreaded process, or a single rank within a MPI process. Specifying the number of tasks one wants to run simultaneously and the number of cores per task is a very convenient way to request resources to Slurm as afterwards starting a MPI or hybrid MPI/OpenMP program using the srun command is very easy.