Please note: The FAQ pages at the HPCVL website are continuously being revised. Some pages might pertain to an older configuration of the system. Please let us know if you encounter problems or inaccuracies, and we will correct the entries.

This is a short FAQ on using the Finite-Element Analysis (FEA) code "Abaqus" on HPCVL machines. This software is only licensed for academic researchers who work at a university that is already covered by an Abaqus license. The software is only made available to persons who belong to a specific Unix group. See details below.

What is "Abaqus"?

The ABAQUS suite of software for finite element analysis (FEA) has the ability to solve a wide variety of simulations. The ABAQUS suite consists of three core products - ABAQUS/Standard, ABAQUS/Explicit and ABAQUS/CAE.

ABAQUS/Standard is designed to solve traditional implicit finite element analyses, such as static, dynamics, and thermal. It is equipped with a wide range of contact and nonlinear material options. ABAQUS/Standard also has optional add-on and interface products, as well as integration with third party software.

ABAQUS/Explicit is focused on transient dynamics and quasi-static analyses using an explicit approach appropriate in many applications such as drop test, crushing and many manufacturing processes.

ABAQUS/CAE provides a modeling and visualization environment for ABAQUS analysis products. It offers access to CAD models, advanced meshing and visualization, and an exclusive view towards ABAQUS analysis products. ABAQUS/CAE is used mainly for pre- and post-processing. Note that this part of the ABAQUS software is not running on HPCVL machines, but on a user client machine.

Where is "Abaqus " located and how do I access it?

The most recent version of Abaqus installed on our machines is 6.11. Note that this version is only available on the Linux systems. All versions of the Abaqus package are located in the directory /opt/abaqus.

Note that only the ABAQUS/Standard and ABAQUS/Explicit packages are installed on the HPCVL clusters. This is because these components are the "number crunching" elements of Abaqus, whereas the ABAQUS/CAE component is used interactively for pre- and post-processing. 

It is a good idea to include the directory /opt/abaqus/6.11/Commands in your PATH before using Abaqus:

export PATH=/opt/abaqus/6.11/Commands:$PATH (for bash)

If the directory was included in the PATH, the software is called by simply invoking "abaqus".

Alternatively, you can take advantage of theusepackagefacility on our cluster, and simply type

use abaqus

from the command prompt on the Linux workup node sw0010.

To use Abaqus on the HPCVL machines, you have to be covered by an academic Abaqus licenseoutsideof HPCVL, i.e. you have to be a "licensed University User of Abaqus". It is furthermore required that you read our licensing agreement, and sign a statement. Note that our license does count as a license for Queen's University. We will confirm your statement, and you will then be made a member of a Unix group"abaqus", which enables you to run the software. Contact us if you are in doubt of whether you will be able to run Abaqus on our system. We also will submit your name and affiliation to Abaqus Inc. for a check if a prior university license exists.

Our Abaqus license is "seat limited" and "process limited". The licensing scheme utilizes so-called "tokens". At present, there are 150 tokens available. A single-process run of Abaqus (Standard or Analysis) uses 5 tokens, multiple process-runs use more according to the formula:

Tokens = Int (5 * Processes^0.422)

To check how many license tokens are available, you can use the following command on the Solaris workup node sflogin0:

/opt/abaqus-6.5/License/lmstat -a -c /opt/abaqus-6.5/License/license.dat

which will tell you how many of the 150 tokens are presently in use.

How do I run "Abaqus" on the workup node?

The following instructions assume that you are a member of the Unix group "abaqus". They pertain only to the Standard and Explicit components of the software. The instructions in this section are only useful if you want to run a test job of Abaqus on the Linux workup node sw0010. If you want to run a production job, please refer to to instructions on how to start a Abaqus batch job (see next section).

The Abaqus program uses a sophisticated syntax to set up a job run. Instructions to the program are written into an input file which is specified when the program is evoked. While an input file can be written "from scratch", it is also possible to use the ABAQUS/CAE component to generate such a file. Both techniques a outside the scope of this FAQ. You also can have a look at a simple example input file here . Documentation for Abaqus is extensive, and available both electronically and in print. There is no substitute to consulting it.

Assuming that we have an input file called testsys.inp, we can initiate a run:

export PATH=/opt/abaqus/6.11/Commands:$PATH 
abaqus job=test001 inp=testsys.inp scratch=/scratch/hpcXXXX

The job= option specified what the output files are to be called. They have various different "filename extensions" but share the name specified here (in our case test001). With the inp= option, we specify which input file to use. There are more options, such as cpus= and mp_mode= for running parallel jobs, but the two used above should get a simple serial job running.

Note that the above sequence starts the job in the background, i.e. after an initial setup phase, your terminal returns although the job is still running. If you want to avoid this, you can include the interactive option in the command line.

Note that the Abaqus software uses a directory in /tmp (which is local to the nodes on which the software is executing) as scratch space. This is the default setting and causes some Abaqus jobs to fail. It must therefore be changed to the standard scratch space /scratch/hpcXXXX (XXXX being the numbers in your userid). This can be done by including the option scratch=/opt/hpcXXXX in your command line. 

Also, do not forget to occasionally check the contents of this scratch directory by typing (replaxing XXXX with the proper numbers for your username):

ls -lt /scratch/hpcXXXX

and removing any files that might be left over from old Abaqus runs. This is necessary because Abaqus will not remove these files if a job was terminated before it ran to completion.

More about changing the Abaqus environment may be learned from the "Installation and Licensing Guide"(chapter 4) of the Abaqus documentation. Please contact us if you need assistance.

How do I set up and run a Abaqus batch job?

In most cases, you will run Abaqus on the HPCVL machines in batch mode. Since you have to have access to Abaqus outside of the HPCVL license, most interactive work can be done elsewhere, whereas the computationally intensive runs can be executed on the cluster.

Production jobs are submitted on the systems via the GridEngine, which is a load-balancing software. To obtain details, read our Gridengine FAQ. For a Abaqus batch job, this means that rather than issuing the above commands directly, you wrap it into a GridEngine batch script that looks something like this:

#$ -S /bin/bash
#$ -q abaqus.q
#$ -l qname=abaqus.q
#$ -V
#$ -cwd
#$ -be
#$ -M {email}
# Defining output file
#$ -o {output}
#$ -e {error}
export PATH="/opt/abaqus/6.11/Commands":$PATH
export PATH="/bin":$PATH
source /opt/ics/bin/compilervars.sh intel64
abaqus job={name} input={input} scratch=/scratch/{username} -interactive

This script needs to be altered by replacing all the relevant items enclosed in curly brackets by the right values. The interactive option is necessary; without it the program will not start properly. The script can be submitted to the GridEngine by typing, e.g.
qsub abaqus.sh

Note that Abaqus needs to be set up correctly before submitting this script, as it inherents the settings of the submitting shell.

The advantage to submit jobs via a load balancing software is that the software will automatically find the resources required and put the job onto a set of processors that have a low load. This will help executing the job faster. Note that the usage of Gridengine for all production jobs on the HPCVL clusters is mandatory. Production jobs that are submitted outside of the load balancing software will be terminated by the system administrator.

How do I setup and execute a "Abaqus" parallel batch job?

The Abaqus jobs that you will want to run on the HPCVL machines are likely to be quite large. To utilize the parallel structure of a cluster such as ours, Abaqus offers to execute the solver in a parallel environment, i.e. on several CPU's simultaneously. The recent versions of Abaqus run only on a Linux platform, restricting the execution of Abaqus jobs to our "SW cluster".

The Abaqus software achieves a certain degree of parallel scaling using either shared- or distributed memory machines. Here is a list of operations with the corresponding parallel mode that Abaqus supports:

Element operations - MPI only 
Iterative solver - MPI or threads
Direct solver - Threads only
Lanczos solver - Threads only

Note that only the shared-memory parallelism is in use on our clusters. It is necessary to decide before a parallel Abaqus run which parallel mode (if any) is to be used (on our clusters, use "threads"), and how many processes are to be started.

Production jobs on the HPCVL Clusters must be submitted via the Grid Engine scheduling software. Since most parallel Abaqus jobs fall into this category, here is an example script for a parallel submission:

#$ -S /bin/bash
#$ -q abaqus.q
#$ -l qname=abaqus.q
#$ -V
#$ -cwd
#$ -m be
#$ -M {email}
#$ -o {output}
#$ -e {error}
#$ -pe shm.pe {number of procs}
export PATH="/opt/abaqus/6.11/Commands":$PATH
export PATH="/bin":$PATH
source /opt/ics/bin/compilervars.sh intel64
abaqus job={name} input={input} scratch=/scratch/{username} cpus=$NSLOTS mp_mode=threads -interactive

Note that Grid Engine allocates all processors on a single node. Processes are not the only resources that need to be allocated when a parallel Abaqus job is submitted. Since the Abaqus license is limited, the following limitations apply for Abaqus production jobs:

  • Up to two Abaqus job per user can be executed at any time.
  • A parallel Abaqus job must use no more than 20 processes.

After altering the script by substuting the items enclosed in , it in can be submitted to the Gridengine by

qsub batch_file_name

from sfnode0 (which is the GridEngine submit host). Note that the job will appear as a parallel job on the GridEngine's qstat or qmon. Note also that submission of a parallel job in this way is only profitable for large systems that use many CPU cycles, since the overhead for assigning processes, preparing nodes, and communication between them is considerable.

How do I execute an Abaqus job on the "mini-cluster"?

HPCVL supplies the so-called "SW cluster" of Linux machines to support Abaqus versions higher than 6.5. This "mini-cluster" presently consists of about 40 nodes, running Abaqus 6.7, 6.9, 6.10, and 6.11.

All Abaqus jobs are run on this cluster, but submission is still through the Solaris workup node sflogin0. Interactive Abaqus work needs to be done on the Linux workup node sw0010. 

Because of the limited number of cores per node, only 12 processor jobs can be run on most of the nodes. Also, the total memory of each node is limited, meaning that jobs with very large memory requirements cannot be submitted only after consulting with us. 

Where can I get further help?

Abaqus is a very complex software package, and requires some practice to be used efficiently. In this FAQ we can not explain it use in any detail. Online documentation for the programs is available on machines where Abaqus is installed. On the login node, it can be accessed by a webbrowser under


Note that you have to start the browser on the login node (use firefox) because we do not have a webserver running on the cluster (for security reasons). A pdf version of the Abaqus documentation can be found in


If you have problems with the GridEngine, read our FAQ on that subject, and maybe consult the manual for that software which is accessible as a PDF file. HPCVL also provide user support in the case of technical problems. Contact us here, we might be able to help, or pass you on to someone who can.