CDTools at TACC

Last update: April 11, 2024

Leveraging each node's /tmp directory space can effectively minimize the I/O load on the global Lustre file system and can also improve the performance of I/O work. Due to its limited size, the /tmp space is appropriate for executables/binaries, frequently-used object files, and small size common files, e.g. the global configuration files or the initial/pre-processed data files.

Collect-Distribute (CDTools) has been designed and developed to distribute files or directories to or from each compute node's /tmp directory.

CDTools has two utilities:

  1. distribute.bash - copy/clone the binaries and frequently accessed input files to the local /tmp space on each compute node prior to computation/when a job starts,
  2. collect.bash - collect output files and log files back to $WORK or $SCRATCH after computation is complete/before a job finishes.

You can employ CD Tools within a job script, or interactively within an idev session.

Using CD Tools

CDTools is currently installed on TACC's Stampede3, Frontera, and Lonestar6 resources.

1. Initialize CD Tools Environment Variable

Load the CDtools module in your job script or within an idev session:

$ module load cdtools

2. Distribute Files to Each Node's /tmp Space

Distribute your files/directories to the local /tmp space of each compute node allotted for your job:

$ distribute.bash ${SCRATCH}/inputfile #put the full path of your input file here

$ distribute.bash ${SCRATCH}/inputdir #put the full path of the directory of your input files here

If you ssh to those compute nodes after running the above command, you would find an identical copy of your input file or directory in the /tmp directory on each node.

3. Collect your Output Files


Each node's /tmp directory is purged once a job ends and before the node is released back into the pool of available nodes.

Collect the job output files from the /tmp space of each node using the collect.bash script. Place this at the end of your job script or issue this command at the end of your idev session.

collect.bash /tmp/outputdir ${SCRATCH}/output_collected
$ collect.bash /tmp/outputfile ${SCRATCH}/output_collected

You will obtain a list of output files or directories copied back to your target directories in $SCRATCH. These output files or directories have been appended with an underscore and a number that indicates the rank of compute nodes. For example, given a job run on four nodes: files outputfile_0, outputfile_1, "outputfile_2 and "outputfile_3 will all be placed in the "/output_collected directory.

Sample Job Script

#SBATCH -J testrun           # Job name
#SBATCH -o CDtest.%j.out     # Name of stdout output file (%j expands to jobId)
#SBATCH -e CDtest.%j.err
#SBATCH -p development       # Queue name
#SBATCH -N 2                 # Total number of nodes requested
#SBATCH -n 16                # Total number of cores requested
#SBATCH -t 00:30:00          # Run time (hh:mm:ss) - 5.0 hours
#SBATCH -A P-1234567         # <-- Allocation name to charge job against

# 0. Preparation

module load cdtools

# 1. Run distribute: Distribute input files and directories
#    to /tmp on each compute node.
#    Distribute your programs/binaries if necessary.

distribute.bash ${SCRATCH}/datafiles/inputfile
distribute.bash ${SCRATCH}/datafiles/inputdir


# 2. Run your application here!

ibrun ./myapp


# 3. Run collect: Collect output files and directories from /tmp.
#    All importnat data files must be archived 
#    to $WORK or $SCRATCH before the job finishes!

collect.bash /tmp/outputdir ${SCRATCH}/datafiles/new_output_collected


  • This tool should work for both batch mode and interactive mode.
  • Always test your workflow with CDTools before any substantial productions runs to ensure required files are successfully distributed and collected.
  • Users should still understand and respect the /tmp limit and other I/O rules.