Slurm: Creating a job

A job is formed of two sections: resource requests and job steps. Resource requests involves specifying the required a number of CPUs/GPUs, expected job duration, amounts of RAM, disk space, and so on. Job steps involves describing what needs to be done (i.e. computing steps, which software to run, parameter space, etc.).

Typically, a job is created via a submission script: a shell script. For example, comments are prefixed with SBATCH at the beginning of a Bash script are understood by Slurm as parameters describing resource requests and other submissions options. A complete list of parameters can be obtained from the sbatch manual page (man sbatch).


The very first line of the submission file has to be the shebang (e.g. #!/bin/bash). Then, the next lines must be the SBATCH directives. Finally, you can input any other line.

The script itself is a job step. Other job steps are created with the srun command.

For instance, the following script, hypothetically named,

#SBATCH --job-name=test
#SBATCH --output=test_%j.txt
#SBATCH --ntasks=1
#SBATCH --time=60:00
#SBATCH --mem-per-cpu=200

srun hostname
srun sleep 60

would request one CPU for 60 minutes, and 200 MB of RAM, in the default queue. When started, the job would run a first job step srun hostname, which will launch the UNIX command hostname on the node on which the requested CPU was allocated. Then, a second job step will start the sleep command. Note that the --job-name parameter lets give a meaningful name to the job and the --output parameter defines the file to which the output of the job must be sent. %j is replaced by the Job ID.


If --output is not specified, the default file name is slurm-%j.out. Including the Job ID in the output filename is useful because it prevents multiple simultaneous jobs from writing to the same output file. It is important not to allow multiple jobs to write to the same file because it produces garbage output, and creates an unnecessarily high load on the filesystem.

Once the submission script is correct, you need to submit it to slurm through the sbatch command, which, upon success, responds with the jobid attributed to the job. (The % sign below is the shell prompt)

% sbatch
sbatch: Submitted batch job 99999999


It is possible to submit a new job to the queue from an SBATCH script.

Job steps on the queue

Once a job has been submitted to a queue with sbatch, execution will follow these steps/states:

  1. PENDING: The job then enters the queue in the PENDING state.

  2. RUNNING: Once resources become available and the job has highest priority, an allocation is created for it and it goes to the RUNNING state.

  3. If the job completes correctly, it goes to the COMPLETED state, otherwise, it is set to the FAILED state.

Querying Job State

It is possible to query information about a job in near-realtime (memory consumption, etc.) with the sstat command, by introducing sstat -j jobid. It is possible to select specific information to output with sstat via the --format parameter. Refer to the manpage for more information man sstat.

The output file contains the result of the commands run in the script file. Following the previous example, it is possible to view its results with cat res.txt. Slurm appends to the job output file while the job is running which makes it easy to see job progress.


The previous example illustrates a serial job running on a single CPU, and on a single node, and therefore does not take advantage of multi-processor nodes or multiple compute nodes available with a cluster.

Parallel jobs

Parallel job (e.g. tasks ran simultaneously) can be created via different methods:

In the Slurm context, a task represents a process; a multi-process program is made of several tasks. By contrast, a multi-threaded program is composed of only one task, which uses several CPUs.

Tasks are requested/created with the --ntasks option, while CPUs, for the multithreaded programs, are requested with the --cpus-per-task option. Tasks cannot be split across several compute nodes, so requesting several CPUs with the --cpus-per-task option will ensure all CPUs are allocated on the same compute node. By contrast, requesting the same amount of CPUs with the --ntasks option may lead to several CPUs being allocated on several, distinct compute nodes.

When using OpenMP parallelisation, you will need to pass the number of OpenMP tasks through to the program by setting the environment variable OMP_NUM_THREADS, for example


This can be combined with Slurm's environment variable which provides the number of CPUs per task to automatically set the number of OpenMP tasks based on the resources requested:



The default value is OMP_NUM_THREADS=1


On OzSTAR, while a single node has 36-cores, usage is limited to 32-cores per node for a single job. This is due to the need for leaving cores free to communicate with GPUs.

For different parallel job scripts, see the Slurm: Script examples page.