Service Costs

Client Categories

The Ohio Supercomputer Center provides services to clients from a variety of types of organizations. The service costs and business models are different between Ohio-based academic clients and everyone else.

Ohio academic clients

Reflecting OSC’s founding as an academic computing resource, a majority of OSC’s users are Ohio-based and academic, including individuals engaged in both research and teaching. Classroom usage is always free and academic researchers in Ohio qualify for credits that largely or completely offset fees. See the Ohio Academic Fees FAQ and General Services FAQ sections below for more details.

Commercial, nonprofit and more

OSC services are available to anyone, anywhere. Commercial/nonprofit clients purchase services at set rates. These clients include businesses, nonprofits, government agencies, hospitals and health care, and academic institutions outside of Ohio.

Commercial/nonprofit clients must sign a service agreement, provide a $500 deposit and pay for resource usage.  In most cases, clients in this category must purchase licenses to use commercial software packages provided by OSC.  Details are available below in the General Services FAQ section.

Contact us for more details about the rates and to start the process of signing a service agreement.

Services Offered

The Ohio Supercomputer Center offers a range of services for clients of all types. These include:

Premium Compute

Access OSC’s clusters at low rates based on client category and node type/GPU, charged per core-hour used. This is our most popular service type.

Dedicated Compute

Prepay for secure priority access to specific types and quantities of nodes for multiple years. Fees are based on the specific node types selected and their quantity. Also known as “condo” service.

Project Storage

For projects with storage requirements that exceed home directory limits, OSC’s large-scale Project Storage service is available upon request at low costs.

Consulting Expertise

OSC staff provide routine technical support and expertise to clients at no cost. More advanced or lengthy engagements with our versatile specialists and engineers may be established at reasonable rates based on the scope of the project.

OSC is currently piloting a Protected Data Service, charged at higher rates, that allows for the use of certain categories of data, such as PHI, HIPAA, or CUI.

General Services FAQ

Click on a question below to read more.

What is the relationship between the service costs for each client category?

The Ohio academic fees have no direct impact on other clients or the rates they are charged. Clients that are NOT based at Ohio academic institutions account for about 10 percent of usage of OSC resources, and the income derived from their usage helps fund the Center’s operating budget. While OSC charges them rates significantly higher than those charged to Ohio-based academic clients, OSC strives to keep its pricing competitive in the market.

How can clients allocate job costs to different funding sources?

Clients can be associated with multiple projects so that they can indicate at the time of submission which projects a job charge should apply to.  The dashboard info a client sees in OnDemand has info broken down by projects and this project-level usage is detailed in the billing to the institutions.  Another approach is to encode information in the job name. Clients can then log on to my.osc.edu and are able to run reports that group things by job name patterns.  Finally, there is an ‘add note’ field available in my.osc.edu for each job that allows clients to add notes after a job has run (and hence then filter/sort by those notes).

Can clients tell day by day what their current compute charges are?

Each project in my.osc.edu will have a ‘budget balance’ display that is updated automatically each day and tells clients how much dollar balance is remaining on the project out of the budget you set, not including queued or running jobs.  Certain types of clients are allowed to associate an 'unlimited' budget to projects to make them 'unbudgeted' if needed.  In addition, it’s possible to run reports in my.osc.edu for any custom time frame showing all the jobs run in that time period and their corresponding charges.  You can check your usage and cost yourself by following the instructions here.

Can non-Ohio-academic clients use budgets to control service consumption?

Yes! OSC can set budgets on your behalf to constrain any of your projects, similar to how Ohio Academic clients are required to constrain usage. Please contact your business relationship manager or email OSCHelp@osc.edu for assistance.

How do these rates compare to the costs a client would incur using another service?

OSC has done extensive cost comparisons between our rates and comparable services such as commercial cloud providers (e.g. Amazon), peer institutions (e.g. other Big 10 universities), federally-funded national resources (e.g. NSF's XSEDE), and maintaining a dedicated local cluster.  When comparing the total cost of ownership (including compute hardware, power, cooling, software licensing, data storage, and operational staff), OSC costs are significantly lower than what would be expended at a cloud provider, other peer HPC centers, or with a local cluster.  When comparing opportunity cost (e.g. the time it takes to prepare a proposal and the chances of it being approved), OSC's costs are significantly lower than what would be expended at national resources for all but our largest resource consumers.

Where does OSC funding come from?

Since OSC’s establishment more than 30 years ago, state funding comes through a separate line item in the biannual state operating budget, directed through the Department of Higher Education (DHE). All state capital and operating appropriations in Ohio are considered public information, available through the Legislative Service Commission. This funding comprises the majority of OSC's revenue. OSC funding is not associated with the State's Share of Instruction (SSI) through DHE, which is the line item that supports Ohio’s higher education institutions. A small portion of OSC’s funding also comes directly from client fees (such as commercial clients and academic condo purchasers), as well as from sponsored research awards. The smallest portion of the funding comes from Ohio-based academic client fees.

Ohio Academic Fees FAQ

Click on a question below to read more.

What are the service rates for Ohio academic clients?

Ohio-based academic clients incur charges at the following rates for both Premium and Dedicated Compute services:

Service types and costs for Ohio Academic clients
Service type
Cost
Standard compute
$0.003 / core hour 
Huge memory compute
$0.004 / core hour
GPU compute
$0.090 / GPU hour*
Project storage
$3.20 / terabyte month*

* From July 2020 through June 2021, OSC will provide to each client credits equal to 50% of the charges incurred for GPU-hours and TB-months.

The table below shows how the core/GPU hour rates below translate into node hours on each of our clusters assuming one were to request all cores (and GPUs if applicable) in a node (rates include the 50% GPU discount through June 2021):

Service types and per-hour costs on the various OSC cluster node types
Service
Core/GPU hour rate
Owens node hour rate
Original Pitzer (Skylake) node hour rate
Pitzer Expansion (Cascade Lake) node hour rate
Standard compute
$0.003
$0.08
$0.12
$0.14
Huge mem compute
$0.004
$0.19
$0.32
$0.19
GPU compute
$0.003 +  $0.045
$0.08 + $0.045 = $0.125
$0.12 + $0.090 = $0.210
$0.14 + $0.090 = $0.230

Do Ohio-based academic clients receive a subsidy?

Every fiscal year, OSC automatically issues a $1,000 credit to each faculty member. This credit automatically pays any fees until it is exhausted or expires on June 30 (at the end of the fiscal year). Historically, the $1,000 credit has covered all charges for approximately 90% of faculty members, who then have no cost for usage of OSC’s services. In exchange for this credit, OSC expects faculty to report grants, publications and metrics of student success we can report to the State of Ohio and institutions we support who make this arrangement possible. OSC reserves the right to revoke the credit in the event of misuse of cluster resources, repeated failure to report outcomes, or for other reasons.

In addition to the $1,000 per year credit, the rates listed above represent about 20% of OSC's actual costs to provide these services.  The remaining 80% is subsidized by a variety of other sources including state funding and fees from commercial clients.

How do I control my service fees?

OSC allows faculty to set budgets on their projects that constrain service utilization. A project’s compute and storage fees will run a budget balance down; once the balance reaches or crosses zero compute will be frozen until a new budget is in place (storage continues to generate fees, until a faculty member tells OSC to turn off the service and remove the data). A budget also has an expiration date that defaults to the end of the current fiscal year; once that date is reached compute is frozen as described for budget exhaustion. Watch this video for details on how to create budgets. Budgets may be auto-approved or be reviewed by administrators at your institution.

What is the credit and how does it work? Budgets?

Please refer to our Service Terms page to learn more about how these terms work together. 

How do I set up a budget for next fiscal year, to avoid disruption when my current budget expires?

You can create budgets for future time periods in my.osc.edu by selecting “Add or replace the FUTURE budget” on the “Create New Project Budget” screen. The budget will default to the upcoming fiscal year. Watch this video for details on how to create budgets.

I want to avoid fees while using OSC or am at an institution not under contract. How should I configure my budgets?

OSC recommends setting your budget, whether for the current or future fiscal year, to $1,000 or slightly below. This will cap your usage at the annual faculty credit, ensuring any fees you generate (not necessarily including storage) will be covered by the credit.

Will classroom projects incur bills?

OSC intends to encourage the use of its resources in the classroom and hence such usage will not incur charges to faculty or institutions.  In addition to the faculty's annual $1,000 credit, classroom project utilization will be fully discounted. The project typically expires at the end of the current semester.  If the budget is fully exhausted before the end of the semester, then additional budget can be requested. Again, all classroom project utilization will be fully discounted. 

Who do I contact at my institution regarding billing?

Faculty at the universities currently under contract should contact their local administrative representative, listed below, for institution-specific questions, which include topics such as how to get institutional budget approval, whether funding needs to be allocated in advance via some mechanism, and whether overhead charges apply.

Administrative representatives per institution
Institution
Administrative Representative
Air Force Institute of Technology
Jeffery Murray (jeffery.murray@afit.edu)
Baldwin Wallace University
Greg Flanik (GFlanik@bw.edu)
Bowling Green State University
Thomas Kornacki (ospr@bgsu.edu)
Case Western Reserve University
Roger Bielefeld (rab5@case.edu)
College of Wooster
Ellen Falduto (efalduto@wooster.edu)
Kent State University
Phil Thomas (plthomas@kent.edu)
Mount Vernon Nazarene University
LeeAnn Couts (LeeAnn.Couts@mvnu.edu)
Muskingum University
Ryan Harvey (harvey@muskingum.edu)
Ohio State University
Diane Dagefoerde (dagefoerde.2@osu.edu)
Ohio University
Elyshia Taylor (taylore@ohio.edu) or Moriah Hudspeth (hudspeth@ohio.edu)
University of Akron
Kathryn Watkins (kwatkin@uakron.edu)
University of Cincinnati
University of Dayton
Angie Buechele (abuechele1@udayton.edu)

I am NOT at a school currently under contract, what impact does that have?

OSC is working to establish master service agreements with each Ohio university with active clients over the coming months. OSC recognizes it may take some time to establish these agreements.  OSC will not prevent clients from continuing to utilize OSC resources, nor will they incur charges should their usage exceed the annual $1,000 credit OSC is providing to each client, while good-faith discussions are underway to execute such contracts. If you need services beyond the $1000 credit and your university is not in discussions with OSC, please let us know.

Is there an allocations committee that reviews and approves project proposals?

No, project review and approval are not through an allocations committee.  Projects and corresponding budgets will be potentially ‘approved’ by an institutional representative since the institutions are the ones technically on the hook for any bill.

Does my university have instructions on how to apply for a budget? For how fees are handled?

Most universities under contract require budget submissions to be approved by the university, and have not provided specific instructions to OSC to pass on to faculty. If you have questions and your university/college is not listed below, please reach out to the institutional representative listed above.

Case Western Reserve University

For "Org Fiscal Reference", the faculty member should provide the CWRU speedtype to which any charges made to CWRU due to their use of OSC will be directed. For "Fiscal Approval", checking the box means that the faculty member has ensured that the person responsible for that speedtype (most often a department chair or department administrator or PI on a grant) has authorized these charges to the speedtype.

The other items are really up to the faculty member.

Ohio State University

The Ohio State University auto-approves budget requests, however they do expect faculty to understand how their college is handling fees and what portion of fees the faculty may be responsible for paying. Please do not create a Workday purchase to transfer funds to OSC.

College of Arts and Sciences

Faculty should expect no fees to be passed on to them in FY21. FY22 discussions are underway.

College of Engineering

The College has a document which describes the formula that splits fees between the college and departments. Individual departments may handle those fees differently. Please talk to your department and the college research office for details.

College of Medicine

The college has a Dedicated Compute service instance. Faculty are encouraged to leverage the $1,000 annual research credit, and then approach the college research computing committee to gain access to the Dedicated Compute instance. There may be some cost share between the faculty and the college for compute and storage fees.

Other Colleges

Ohio State currently passes the full fee on to each college to deal with individually. Faculty should talk to their college fiscal officers or research office for details.

Are faculty going to get an unexpected large bill?

No. In order to incur charges above the $1,000 annual credit faculty will have to explicitly request that project budgets be set to a value higher than that.

Why does OSC charge Ohio-based academics?

Sustainability for research computing on campuses is a national concern. For the first 30 years of OSC's existence, OSC provided Ohio academic researchers with fully subsidized services, subject to peer review. However, despite significant efforts to constrain costs in recent years, OSC faces funding shortfalls that require additional revenue to ensure core services continue at current levels.

In 2018, OSC implemented certain fees for six Ohio universities that comprised the greatest usage of OSC's resources.  OSC worked with key stakeholders at these universities, along with the Department of Higher Education, as part of a process to further define and implement changes in order to ensure the long-term sustainability of the center. OSC is also working to ensure the center continues to provide subsidized access to advanced technology resources and services that will meet the ever-evolving range of client needs.

This fee model addresses some key concerns that stakeholders and the university community have had with the previous business model as listed below.

  • Clear service pricing
    Resource units (RUs) are no longer utilized to quantify usage.  Instead, industry-standard units such as core-hours, GPU-hours, or Terabyte-months are shown on reports.
  • Charges are fair and applied across all resources and institutions
    There are now costs and service types associated with standard, big memory, and GPU computing, as well as project storage. Usage and billing reports are more detailed and now apply to faculty at all Ohio universities.
  • Universities must be able to ensure funding is available
    Aggregate bills are sent to a central administrative contact at each institution, who is able to approve individual faculty spending limits.
  • Faculty can't end up with unexpected bills
    Faculty can set automated budget ceilings on individual projects in order to prevent cost overruns.
  • All Ohio faculty must have access to some level of free resources
    Ohio faculty can annually apply to receive a $1,000 credit.  Classroom usage is fully discounted. 

I have concerns or additional questions that haven't been answered here.

For questions about how your university or college handles fees, budget approvals, etc, please contact your institutional representative listed above. For all other questions, please don't hesitate to contact oschelp@osc.edu.