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Gordon User Guide: Storage Overview

SSD Scratch Space

Both the native (non-vSMP) compute nodes and the vSMP nodes on Gordon have access to fast flash storage. Most of the native compute nodes mount a single 300 GB SSD (280 GB usable space), but some of the native nodes, labeled with the "bigflash" property, have access to a 4.4 TB SSD filesystem. The vSMP nodes have access to one or more RAID 0 devices each built from sixteen 300 GB SSDs (4.4 TB usable space).  

The latency to the SSDs is several orders of magnitude lower than that for spinning disk (<100 microseconds vs. milliseconds) making them ideal for user-level check pointing and applications that need fast random I/O to large scratch files. Users can access the SSDs only during job execution under the following directories:

Regular native compute nodes:


Note that the regular compute nodes have 280GB of usable space in the scratch SSD location. For jobs needing larger scratch space, the options are "bigflash" compute nodes and the vSMP nodes.

Bigflash native compute nodes:


Additionally, users will have to change the PBS node request line:

#PBS –l nodes=1:ppn=16:native:bigflash

If more than one bigflash node is needed for a single job, the following line also needs to be added since not all bigflash nodes share the same switch:

#PBS –v Catalina_maxhops=None

vSMP nodes:

/scratch1/$USER/$PBS_JOBID (16-way and larger)

/scratch2/$USER/$PBS_JOBID (32-way and larger)

For the vSMP nodes, /scratch is a symbolic link to /scratch1 and is provided to maintain a consistent interface to the SSDs across all SDSC resources that contain flash drives (Gordon and Trestles).

These directories are purged immediately after the job terminates, therefore any desired files must be copied to the parallel file system before the end of the job.

Noflash Nodes:

A small subset of Gordon nodes do not have a flash filesystem. If your job does not require the use of SSDs, you may wish to explicit request the "noflash" property when submitting your job (e.g., #PBS -l nodes=1:ppn=16:native:noflash) to prevent it from having to wait for flash-equipped compute nodes to become available. By default, all non-interactive jobs go to nodes with SSD scratch space, and the noflash nodes are only allocated when explicitly requested.

Parallel Lustre File System

SDSC provides several Lustre-based parallel file systems. These include a shared Projects Storage area that is mounted on both Gordon and Trestles plus separate scratch file systems. Collectively known as Data Oasis, these file systems are accessed through 64 Object Storage Servers (OSSs) and have a capacity of 4 PB.

Lustre Project Space

SDSC Projects Storage has 1.4 PB of capacity and is available to all allocated users of Trestles and Gordon. It is accessible at:


where <allocation> is your 6-character allocation name, found by running show_accounts. The default allocation is 500 GB of Project Storage to be shared among all users of a project. Projects that require more than 500 GB of Project Storage must request additional space via the XSEDE POPS system in the form of a storage allocation request (for new allocations) or supplement (for existing allocations).

Project Storage is not backed up and users should ensure that critical data are duplicated elsewhere. Space is provided on a per-project basis and is available for the duration of the associated compute allocation period. Data will be retained for 3 months beyond the end of the project, by which time data must be migrated elsewhere.

Lustre Scratch Space

The Gordon Scratch space has a capacity of 1.6 PB and is currently configured as follows. 


Users cannot write directly to the /oasis/scratch/$USER directory and must instead write to one of the two subdirectories listed above.

The former is created at the start of a job and should be used for applications that require a shared scratch space or need more storage than can be provided by the flash disks. Because users can only access this scratch space after the job starts, executables and other input data must be copied here from the user's home directory from within a job's batch script. Unlike SSD scratch storage, the data stored in Lustre scratch is not purged immediately after job completion. Instead, users will have time after the job completes to copy back data they wish to retain to their projects directories, home directories, or to their home institution.

The latter is intended for medium-term storage outside of running jobs, but is subject to purge with a minimum of five days notice if it begins to approach capacity.

Note that both directories ($PBS_JOBID and temp_project) are part of the same file system and therefore served by the same set of OSSs. User jobs can read or write to either location with the same performance. To avoid the overhead of unnecessary data movement, read directly from temp_project rather than copying to the $PBS_JOBID directory. Similarly, files that should be retained after completion of a job should be written directly to temp_project.

Home File System

After logging in, users are placed in their home directory, /home, also referenced by the environment variable $HOME. The home directory is limited in space and should be used only for source code storage. Jobs should never be run from the home file system, as it is not set up for high performance throughput. Users should keep usage on $HOME under 100GB. Backups are currently being stored on a rolling 8-week period. In case of file corruption/data loss, please contact us at to retrieve the requested files.

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