CIPRES Subscriptions: Frequently Asked Questions

What does my subscription fee pay for?  A subscription supports ongoing CIPRES operations. The activities funded by subscriptions include maintaining and improving the existing interface, testing, benchmarking, and releasing new tools, providing user support, monitoring and responding to interruptions in service, ensuring users have equal access to compute resources, helping individual users with special job requirements.

Although the amount of compute resource available to each user is determined by the level of their subscription, the subscription fee is not used to pay for compute time. CIPRES is awarded compute time through an allocation of the XSEDE project. There is no cost to CIPRES for this time. The subscription fee is strictly to defray the cost of keeping CIPRES in operation, which includes the activities noted above, as well as writing grants to ensure that compute time is available for our users. The XSEDE project plans to continue to provide access to its compute clusters for the global biology community.

Subscription proceeds will only be used to defray current costs, so we can continue to provide service to the community. CIPRES will always be a not-for-profit project.          

Will I be charged based on how much I use the resource, or is it a flat rate? Our model is based on a flat rate, a renewable annual subscription. A free Level 1 subscription provides complete access to CIPRES, including all codes, job submission tools, 150 GB free storage, user support, and 1000 core hours of compute time per year. Enhanced subscriptions provide the same benefits and access to more compute time. Level 2 subscriptions provide up to 10,000 core hours of compute time per year, and Level 3 subscriptions provide up to 25,000 core hours of compute time per year, and Level 4 subscriptions provide up to 50,000 core hours of compute time per year.

How will my usage be calculated? Usage is calculated based on the amount of compute time you consume in a calendar year. Your account is charged only for compute time you actually use. Most CIPRES jobs run on multiple processor cores, so your account will be charged for the number of compute cores your job used multiplied by the number of hours your jobs run. Submissions from your account will be halted automatically when you reach your annual limit.

What happens if I need more time? You can access more compute time by purchasing a new subscription at any time. Any user account can purchase a combination of subscriptions that provide up to 50,000 core hours in a calendar year.

What happens if I don’t use all of my available time? Compute time available at the end of subscription year will not be carried over to the subsequent year. You will be granted a new allocation of 1,000 free hours once per year, and you may purchase a new subscription to access more hours.

When will subscription-based access begin? The new subscription service will begin on January 11, 2021. Users who require more than 1,000 core hours will be required to purchase an enhanced subscription level at that time.

Can I charge this to my research grant? Yes. CIPRES will accept institutional procurement credit cards as well as purchase orders. Payment must be received before access to resources will be provided.

Why shouldn’t I just get my own XSEDE account and run jobs from the command line there? This is possible if you are at a US institution. However, XSEDE accounts can only be requested by users in the US who have a Ph.D. or are at the Principal investigator level or higher in their organization. XSEDE accounts do not provide a user interface, but instead rely on command line usage.

Why shouldn’t I just use a cloud provider instead? It is possible to run your jobs through a cloud provider. However, this will require learning to use the command line interface, installing the tools you require, and benchmarking them so they run efficiently. The cost of running one CPU (provisioned like ours) at AWS is  8.5 cents (US) per hour, and this does not include network and data storage charges. In this model, 5,000 core hours on a “bare metal” AWS instance will cost at least $425 plus the amount of time required to set up the instance and install the code. For $100, a subscription at CIPRES provides 10,000 hours of compute time, access to current tools, 150 GB data storage, a user-friendly point and click interface, and customer support.

Why do only non-US users have to pay? US research agencies have supported CIPRES operations for the international community for more than 10 years. The user community outside the US now represents approximately 70% of CIPRES users. While CIPRES will continue to provide compute resources to the international community at no charge, the subscription fee allows us to capture some of the costs of CIPRES operations (as opposed to compute time) from users outside the US. In December 2021, users at US institutions who require more than 1,000 CPU hours will also be required to purchase subscriptions.

CIPRES – Cyberinfrastructure for Phylogenic Research