IBM Spectrum LSF

Starting in LSF 10.1 FixPack 9 ( Azure CycleCloud is a native provider for Resource Connector. IBM provides documentation. These resources provide instruction on configuring the LSF Master node to connect to CycleCloud.

LSF is an IBM licensed product; using LSF in CycleCloud requires an entitlement file that IBM provides to their customers.


LSF is an IBM licensed product; using LSF in CycleCloud requires an entitlement file that IBM provides to its customers. The LSF binaries and entitlement file must be added to the blobs/ directory to use the fully automated cluster or the VM image builder in this project. To use the fully automated cluster, or the vm image builder in this project LSF binaries and entitlement file must be added to the blobs/ directory.

Supported Scenarios of the CycleCloud LSF Cluster type

LSF can "borrow" hosts from Azure to run jobs in an on-demand way, adding and removing hosts as needed. The LSF cluster type is flexible to handle several scenarios in a single cluster:

  1. High throughput jobs (CPU & GPU)
  2. Tightly coupled (MPI, CPU & GPU)
  3. Low Priority

These scenarios are handled by configuration of multiple nodearrays and LSF properties in concert. The nodearrays are pre-configured in CycleCloud. Proper configuration of LSF enables the various job scenarios.

When LSF is configured in accordance with these recommendations, bsub resource requirements -R can be used in the following manner:

Use the placementGroup resource to run a job with InfiniBand connected network.

-R "span[ptile=2] select[nodearray=='ondemandmpi' && cyclecloudmpi] same[placementgroup]"

For GPUs we recommend using LSF support for extended GPU syntax. Typically requires adding two attributes to lsf.conf: LSB_GPU_NEW_SYNTAX=extend and LSF_GPU_AUTOCONFIG=Y. With support for extended syntax enabled, use the placementGroup along with -gpu to run a tightly coupled job with GPU acceleration.

-R "span[ptile=1] select[nodearray=='gpumpi' && cyclecloudmpi] same[placementgroup]" -gpu "num=2:mode=shared:j_exclusive=yes"

Run GPU enabled jobs in a parallel manner.

-R "select[nodearray=='gpu' && !cyclecloudmpi && !cyclecloudlowprio]" -gpu "num=1:mode=shared:j_exclusive=yes"

Run a large burst job on lowpriority VMs.

-J myArr[1000] -R "select[nodearray=='lowprio' && cyclecloudlowprio]"

Configuring LSF for the CycleCloud LSF Cluster type

To enable these scenarios as described, add a number of shared resource types to lsb.shared.

   cyclecloudhost  Boolean  ()       ()       (instances from Azure CycleCloud)
   cyclecloudmpi  Boolean   ()       ()       (instances that support MPI placement)
   cyclecloudlowprio  Boolean ()     ()       (instances that low priority / interruptible from Azure CycleCloud)
   nodearray  String     ()       ()       (nodearray from CycleCloud)
   placementgroup String ()       ()       (id used to note locality of machines)
   instanceid String     ()       ()       (unique host identifier)

It's possible that cyclecloudlowprio can be left out, but it provides an additional check that jobs are running on their intended VM tenancy.

LSF Provider Template for CycleCloud

The LSF CycleCloud provider exposes a number of configurations through the provider template. These configurations are a subset of the complete configuration of the nodearray.

Here is an example LSF template for Cyclecloud from cyclecloudprov_templates.json:

    "templateId": "ondemand",
    "attributes": {
        "type": ["String", "X86_64"],
        "ncores": ["Numeric", "44"],
        "ncpus": ["Numeric", "44"],
        "mem": ["Numeric", "327830"],
        "cyclecloudhost": ["Boolean", "1"],
        "nodearray" : ["String", "ondemand"]
    "priority" : 250,
    "nodeArray": "ondemand",
    "vmType" : "Standard_HC44rs",
    "subnetId" : "/subscriptions/xxxxxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxxxxxxx/resourceGroups/azurecyclecloud-lab/providers/Microsoft.Network/virtualNetworks/hpc-network/subnets/compute",
    "imageId" : "/subscriptions/xxxxxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxxxxxxx/resourceGroups/azurecyclecloud-lab/providers/Microsoft.Compute/images/lsf-worker-a4bc2f10",
    "maxNumber": 500,
    "keyPairLocation": "/opt/cycle_server/.ssh/id_rsa_admin.pem",
    "customScriptUri": "",
    "userData": "nodearray_name=ondemand"

LSF Template Attributes for CycleCloud

Not all nodearray attributes are exposed by the LSF provider template. These can be considered overrides of the CycleCloud nodearray configuration. The only required LSF template are:

  • templateId
  • nodeArray

Others are inferred from the CycleCloud configuration, can be omitted, or aren't necessary at all.

  • imageId - Azure VM Image eg. "/subscriptions/xxxxxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxx-xxxxxxxxxxxx/resourceGroups/my-images-rg/providers/Microsoft.Compute/images/lsf-execute-201910230416-80a9a87f" override for CycleCloud cluster configuration.
  • subnetId - Azure subnet eg. "resource_group/vnet/subnet" override for CycleCloud cluster configuration.
  • vmType - eg. "Standard_HC44rs" override for CycleCloud cluster configuration.
  • keyPairLocation - eg. "~/.ssh/id_rsa_beta" override for CycleCloud cluster configuration.
  • customScriptUri - eg. "", no script if not specified.
  • userData - eg. "nodearray_name=gpumpi;placement_group_id=gpumpipg1" empty if not specified.

A Note on PlacementGroups

Azure Datacenters have Infiniband network capability for HPC scenarios. These networks, unlike the normal ethernet, have limited span. The Infiniband network extents are described by "PlacementGroups". If VMs reside in the same placement group and are special Infiniband-enabled VM Types, then they will share an Infiniband network.

These placement groups necessitate special handling in LSF and CycleCloud.

Here is an example LSF template for Cyclecloud from cyclecloudprov_templates.json:

  "templateId": "ondemandmpi-1",
  "attributes": {
    "nodearray": ["String", "ondemandmpi" ],
    "zone": [  "String",  "westus2"],
    "mem": [  "Numeric",  8192.0],
    "ncpus": [  "Numeric",  2],
    "cyclecloudmpi": [  "Boolean",  1],
    "placementgroup": [  "String",  "ondemandmpipg1"],
    "ncores": [  "Numeric",  2],
    "cyclecloudhost": [  "Boolean",  1],
    "type": [  "String",  "X86_64"],
    "cyclecloudlowprio": [  "Boolean",  0]
  "maxNumber": 40,
  "nodeArray": "ondemandmpi",
  "placementGroupName": "ondemandmpipg1",
  "priority": 448,
  "customScriptUri": "",
  "userData" : "nodearray_name=ondemandmpi;placement_group_id=ondemandmpipg1"

The placementGroupName in this file can be anything but will determine the name of the placementGroup in CycleCloud. Any nodes borrowed from CycleCloud from this template will reside in this placementGroup and, if they're Infiniband-enabled VMs, will share an IB network.

Note that placementGroupName matches the host attribute placementgroup, this intentional and necessary. Also that the placement_group_id is set in userData to be used in at host start time. The ondemandmpi attribute may seem extraneous but is used to prevent this job from matching on hosts where placementGroup is undefined.

Often when using placement groups there will be a maximum placement group size determined by the Azure.MaxScaleSetSize property. This property indirectly limits how many nodes may be added to a placement group but is not considered by LSF. It's therefore important to set MaxNumber of the LSF template equal to Azure.MaxScaleSetSize in the cluster template.

The template provides attributes for executing a script; customScriptUri and userData. These are the URI and custom environment variables of the user-managed script running at node startup. This script is downloaded by annonymous CURL command, so customScriptUri requiring authentication fail. Use this script to:

  1. Configure the worker LSF daemons; particularly LSF_LOCAL_RESOURCES and LSF_MASTER_LIST
    • If LSF_TOP is on a shared filesystem, it can be useful to make a local copy of lsf.conf and set the LSF_ENVDIR variable before starting the daemons.
  2. Start the lim, res and sbatch daemons.

There are some default environment variables set by the CycleCloud provider.

  • rc_account
  • template_id
  • providerName
  • clustername
  • cyclecloud_nodeid (recommended to set this to instanceId resource)

Other user data variables that can be useful in managing resources in the CycleCloud provider are:

  • nodearray_name
  • placement_group_id


Even though Windows is an officially supported LSF platform, CycleCloud does not support running LSF on Windows at this time.