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Data Transfer Nodes


The data transfer nodes are NERSC servers dedicated to performing transfers between NERSC data storage resources such as HPSS and the NERSC Global Filesystem (NGF), and storage resources at other sites. These nodes are being managed (and monitored for performance) as part of a collaborative effort between ESnet and NERSC to enable high performance data movement over the high-bandwidth 100Gb ESnet wide-area network (WAN).


There are four data transfer nodes deployed at NERSC:


All DTNs have four 10-gigabit ethernet links for transfers over the network and two FDR IB connections to the filesystem (each). Third-party software is managed via modules. As with other NERSC systems, shell configuration files ("dot files") are under the control of NERSC; users should only modify ".ext" files.


All NERSC users are automatically given access to the data transfer nodes. The nodes support both interactive use via SSH (direct login) or data transfer using GridFTP services. We recommend using Globus for large data transfers.

Available File Systems

The NERSC data transfer nodes use global home and the project directories (see NERSC File Systems for a description) Please note that /tmp is very small. Although certain common tools (e.g., vi) use /tmp for temporary storage, users should never explicitly use /tmp for data.

File Transfer Software

For smaller files you can use Secure Copy (SCP) or Secure FTP (SFTP) to transfer files between two hosts.  See Using SCP and SFTP at NERSCFor larger files GridFTP provides better transfer rates. We recommend using Globus for GridFTP transfers, it makes GridFTP transfers trivial so users do not have to learn command line options for manual performance tuning. Globus also does automatic performance tuning and has been shown to perform comparable to -- or even better (in some cases) than -- expert-tuned GridFTP.  See Using BBCP at NERSC and Grid Data Transfer.

Special commands can be used for data transfers to or from the HPSS mass storage system.  See Storing and Retrieving HPSS Data.


In order to keep the data transfer nodes performing optimally for data transfers, we request that users restrict interactive use of these systems to tasks that are related to preparing data for transfer or are directly related to data transfer of some form or fashion. Examples of intended usage would be running python scripts to download data from a remote source, running client software to load data from a file system into a remote database, or compressing (gzip) or bundling (tar) files in preparation for data transfer. Examples of that should not be done include running a database on the server to do data processing, or running tests that saturate the nodes resources. The goal is to maintain data transfer systems that have adequate memory and CPU available for interactive user data transfers.