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Iceberg was decommissioned on 30th November 2020. Users of Iceberg need to switch to using ShARC and/or Bessemer instead.


CUDA (Compute Unified Device Architecture) is a parallel computing platform and application programming interface (API) model created by NVIDIA. It allows software developers to use a CUDA-enabled graphics processing unit (GPU) for general purpose processing, an approach known as General Purpose GPU (GPGPU) computing.


You need to first request one or more GPUs within an interactive session or batch job on a worker node. For example, to request a single GPU for an interactive session on a worker node:

qrshx -l gpu=1


See Using GPUs on Iceberg for more information on how to request a GPU-enabled node for an interactive session or job submission.

You then need to load a version of the CUDA library (and compiler). There are several versions of the CUDA library available. As with much software installed on the cluster, versions of CUDA are activated via the ‘module load’ command:

module load libs/cuda/8.0.44
module load libs/cuda/7.5.18
module load libs/cuda/6.5.14
module load libs/cuda/4.0.17
module load libs/cuda/3.2.16

To then confirm which version of CUDA you are using:

$ nvcc --version
nvcc: NVIDIA (R) Cuda compiler driver
Copyright (c) 2005-2016 NVIDIA Corporation
Built on Sun_Sep__4_22:14:01_CDT_2016
Cuda compilation tools, release 8.0, V8.0.44

Important To compile CUDA programs you also need a compatible version of the GCC compiler:

  • CUDA 7.x and 8.x: GCC >= 4.7.0 (to allow for the use of c++11 features) and < 5.0.0

Compiling a simple CUDA program

An example of the use of nvcc (the CUDA compiler)


will compile the CUDA program contained in the file

Compiling the sample programs

You do not need to be using a GPU-enabled node to compile the sample programs but you do need a GPU to run them.

In a qrshx session:

# Load modules
module load libs/cuda/8.0.44
module load compilers/gcc/4.9.2

# Copy CUDA samples to a local directory
# It will create a directory called NVIDIA_CUDA-8.0_Samples/
mkdir cuda_samples
cd cuda_samples
cp -r $CUDA_SDK .

# Compile (this will take a while)
cd NVIDIA_CUDA-8.0_Samples/

The make command then runs the nvcc CUDA compiler and generates a binary executable that you can then run on a node with an NVIDIA GPU installed.

A basic test is to run one of the resulting binaries, deviceQuery.

GPU Code Generation Options

To achieve the best possible performance whilst being portable, GPU code should be generated for the architecture(s) it will be executed upon.

This is controlled by specifying -gencode arguments to NVCC which, unlike the -arch and -code arguments, allows for ‘fatbinary’ executables that are optimised for multiple device architectures.

Each -gencode argument requires two values, the virtual architecture and real architecture, for use in NVCC’s two-stage compilation. I.e. -gencode=arch=compute_20,code=sm_20 specifies a virtual architecture of compute_20 and real architecture sm_20.

To support future hardware of higher compute capability, an additional -gencode argument can be used to enable Just in Time (JIT) compilation of embedded intermediate PTX code. This argument should use the highest virtual architecture specified in other gencode arguments for both the arch and code i.e -gencode=arch=compute_20,code=compute_20.

The minimum specified virtual architecture must be less than or equal to the Compute Capability of the GPU used to execute the code.

Iceberg contains Telsa M2070 and Tesla K40m GPUs, which are compute capability 20 and 35 respectively. To build a CUDA application which targets any GPU on Iceberg, use the following -gencode arguments:

nvcc \
   -gencode=arch=compute_20,code=sm_20 \
   -gencode=arch=compute_35,code=sm_35 \

To build a CUDA application that runs on both Iceberg and ShARC see CUDA.

Further details of these compiler flags can be found in the NVCC Documentation, along with details of the supported virtual architectures and real architectures.


SM 20 and SM 21 are deprecated in CUDA 8.0.

If you attempt to build SM 20 or SM 21 code using CUDA 8.0, a warning will be raised at compile time.


SM 35 is not available in CUDA 3.2.16 or CUDA 4.0.17

If you wish to target the Tesla K40m GPUs please use CUDA 6.5.14 or later.

Profiling using nvprof

Note that nvprof, NVIDIA’s CUDA profiler, cannot write output to the /fastdata filesystem.

This is because the profiler’s output is a SQLite database and SQLite requires a filesystem that supports file locking but file locking is not enabled on the (Lustre) filesystem mounted on /fastdata (for performance reasons).

CUDA Training

GPUComputing@sheffield provides a self-paced introduction to CUDA training course.

Determining the NVIDIA Driver version

Run the command:

cat /proc/driver/nvidia/version

Example output is:

NVRM version: NVIDIA UNIX x86_64 Kernel Module  384.81  Wed Aug 17 22:24:07 PDT 2016
GCC version:  gcc version 4.4.7 20120313 (Red Hat 4.4.7-17) (GCC)

Installation notes

These are primarily for system administrators.

Device driver

The NVIDIA device driver is installed and configured using the /etc/init.d/uos-nvidia service.

This service does the following at boot time:

  • Check the device driver version and uninstall it then reinstall the target version if required;

  • Load the nvidia kernel module;

  • Create several device nodes in /dev/.

The NVIDIA device driver is currently version 384.81. The driver installer provides OpenGL libraries.

CUDA 8.0.44

  1. The CUDA toolkit binaries and samples were installed using a binary .run file:

    mkdir -m 2775 -p $prefix
    chown ${USER}:app-admins $prefix
    cd /usr/local/media/nvidia/
    chmod +x cuda_${cuda_vers}
    ./cuda_${cuda_vers} --toolkit --toolkitpath=${prefix}/cuda \
                                  --samples --samplespath=${prefix}/samples \
                                  --no-opengl-libs -silent
  2. This modulefile was installed as /usr/local/modulefiles/libs/cuda/8.0.44

CUDA 7.5.18

CUDA 7.5.18

  1. The CUDA toolkit binaries and samples were installed using a binary .run file as per version 8.0.44.

  2. This modulefile was installed as /usr/local/modulefiles/libs/cuda/7.5.18

Previous versions

No install notes are available.