Cell HPC

Cell is the lab High Performance Computing (HPC) system, which should be used for high priority jobs, or jobs requiring resources hard to schedule on the EDDIE university system.

Available resources

Hardware resources

  • 128 CPU cores, 2.4Ghz-3.1GHz
  • 64 or 128 Gb ECC RAM per node
  • 24Tb storage
  • 1 Nvidia TitanX 16GB GPU

Software resources

  • Nvidia GPU drivers
  • Docker
  • Singularity
  • Slurm

Obtaining access

Access to Cell is a granted by informing the Dr Stracquadanio and filling a ticket with the IS Helpline, specifying that you will need to be added to the lab group.


Cell is available only through SSH within the University of Edinburgh network, including UoE VPN, UoE Eduroam, and office ethernet outlets.

To access the login node, use SSH as follows:

ssh UUN@cell.bio.ed.ac.uk

where UUN is your university UUN and the password is the one used for MyED and the other University services.


Directory Description Size Backup
/localdisk/storage/home/<UUN> Home directory to store conda or basic tools 50Gb No
/localdisk/storage/projects Directory to store teams' projects 10Tb Yes
/localdisk/storage/datasets Directory to store raw data 5Tb Yes

WARNING Although the projects are regularly backed up, Cell is not intended for long term storage. Therefore, it's mandatory to transfer your raw data and final results on the group Datastore regularly.

Account setup

Install miniconda

You should use miniconda to install any software you might need, since it allows user-level installations of most common Unix software. If you cannot find your software in the default channel, please check also the conda-forge and bioconda channels.

To install miniconda, download the installer in your home directory as follows:

wget https://repo.anaconda.com/miniconda/Miniconda3-latest-Linux-x86_64.sh

Then, run the installer as follows:

bash Miniconda3-latest-Linux-x86_64.sh

and answer 'yes' to each question including the default location. Finally, activate your installation by running:

source ~/.bashrc

Install cookiecutter

You can install cookiecutter by running the following command:

conda install -c conda-forge cookiecutter

Install nextflow

You can install Nextflow from the command line by running:

curl -s https://get.nextflow.io | bash

Add your GitHub PAT

You need to add your PAT to the Nextflow configuration to pull from the lab GitHub organization. To do that, create a new text file as follows:

nano ~/.nextflow/scm

and write the following configuration parameters, replacing the user and password information with the your credentials.

providers {
    github {
        user = 'your-user-name'
        password = 'your-personal-access-token;'

Finally, press Ctrl+o to write your configuration to file.

To pull Docker images from GitHub, you also have to configure the credentials for singularity as environment variables. To do that, create a new config file as follows:

nano ~/.nextflow/config

and write the following parameters, replacing the SINGULARITY_DOCKER_PASSWORD and with the your PAT.

env {

Finally, press Ctrl+o to write your configuration to file.

Test your installation

You can test your installation by creating a test-workflow in your home directory as follows:

mkdir ~/test-workflow && cd ~/test-workflow

Now pull the boot-nf workflow as follows:

nextflow pull stracquadaniolab/boot-nf

and run it on Cell as follows:

nextflow run stracquadaniolab/boot-nf -profile singularity,slurm,test

which will create a file results/results.txt containing your ip address and location in JSON format.


  • I tried to pull a docker image, but it gives me an auth error: 1) you should have a PAT (personal access token) added so that you can access github images github help. 2) you should be added to the docker group by an admin, contact the IS helpline to have your used enable 3) your docker image should be built and pushed to the gh repository (check the github action for the workflow). These three steps should solve 95% of problems.

  • Pipeline suddenly fails with 137 error: 1) Most likely you haven't allocated enough memory for your job. Check Nextflow configuration file for details (particularly executor scope: memory setting).