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Sherlock documentation#


Welcome to Sherlock!#

Sherlock is a High-Performance Computing (HPC) cluster, operated by the Stanford Research Computing Center to provide computing resources to the Stanford community at large. You'll find all the documentation, tips, FAQs and information about Sherlock among these pages.

Why use Sherlock?#

Using Sherlock for your work provides many advantages over individual solutions: hosted in an on-premises, state-of-the-art datacenter, the Sherlock cluster is powered and cooled by installations that are optimized for scientific computing.

On Sherlock, simulations and workloads benefit from performance levels that only large scale HPC systems can offer: high-performance I/O infrastructure, petabytes of storage, large variety of hardware configurations, GPU accelerators, centralized system administration and management provided by Stanford Research Computing.

Such features are not easily accessible at the departmental level, and often require both significant initial investments and recurring costs. Joining Sherlock allows researchers and faculty members to avoid those costs and benefit from economies of scale, as well as to access larger, professionally managed computing resources that what would not be available on an individual or even departmental basis.

How much does it cost?#

Sherlock is free to use for anyone doing departmental or sponsored research at Stanford. Any faculty member can request access for research purposes, and get an account with a base storage allocation and unlimited compute time on the global, shared pool of resources.

No CPU.hour charge

Unlike all Cloud Service Providers and many HPC systems, there is no usage charge on Sherlock.

When you submit your work on Sherlock, you don't need to keep an eye on the clock and worry about how much that run will cost you. There is no limit on the total amount of computing you can run on the cluster, as long as resources are available, and there's no charge to use them, no matter how large or small your computations are.

In case those free resources are not sufficient, Stanford Research Computing offers Faculty members the opportunity to invest into the cluster, and get access to additional computing resources for their research teams. Using a traditional compute cluster condominium model, participating faculty and their teams get priority access to the resources they purchase. When they're idle, those resources are available to use by other owners on the cluster, giving them access to virtually unlimited resources.

Information sources#

Searching the docs

If you're looking for information on a specific topic, the Search feature of this site will allow you to quickly find the page you're looking for. Just press S, F or / to open the Search bar and start typing.

To help users take their first steps on Sherlock, we provide documentation and information through various channels:

Channel URL Purpose
You are here information to help new users start on Sherlock, and more in-depth documentation for users already familiar with the environment.
Changelog announces, news and updates about Sherlock.
Dashboard status of Sherlock's main components and services, outages, planned maintenance.

To get started, you can take a look at the concepts and glossary pages to get familiar with the terminology used throughout the documentation pages. Then, we recommend going through the following sections:

Acknowledgment / citation#

It is important and expected that publications resulting from computations performed on Sherlock acknowledge this. The following wording is suggested:


Some of the computing for this project was performed on the Sherlock cluster. We would like to thank Stanford University and the Stanford Research Computing Center for providing computational resources and support that contributed to these research results.


Research Computing support can be reached by sending an email to and mentioning Sherlock.

How to submit effective support requests

To ensure a timely and relevant response, please make sure to include some additional details, such as job ids, commands executed and error messages received, so we can help you better. For more details, see the Troubleshooting page.

As a member of the Sherlock community, you're also automatically subscribed to the sherlock-announce mailing-list, which is only used by the Stanford Research Computing team to send important announcements about Sherlock.

Onboarding sessions#

We offer regular onboarding sessions for new Sherlock users.

On-boarding session times

On-boarding sessions are offered every first Wednesday of the month, 1PM-2PM PST, via Zoom

These one-hour sessions are a brief introduction to Sherlock's layout, its scheduler, the different file systems available on the cluster, as well as some job submission and software installation best practices for new users. They are a good intro course if you are new to Sherlock or HPC in general.

If you can't attend live on-boarding sessions, you can still take a look at the on-boarding slides as well as to this session recording.

Office hours#

Sending a question to is always the best first option for questions. That way you can include detailed descriptions of the problem or question, valuable output and error messages and any steps you took when you encountered your error. Also, everyone on our team will see your ticket, enabling the most appropriate group member to respond.

Office hours are a good place for more generalized questions about Sherlock, Slurm, Linux usage, data storage, queue structures/scheduling, job optimization and general capabilities of Sherlock. It's also useful for more technically nuanced questions that may not be easily answered with our ticketing system. In office hours some problems can indeed be solved quickly or progress can be made so that you can then work self-sufficiently towards a solution on your own.

COVID-19 update

We'll be holding remote office hours via Zoom, for the time being.

Office hours times

Click here to join the Sherlock Office Hours Zoom

  • Tuesday 10-11am
  • Thursday 3-4pm

You'll need a full-service SUNet ID (basically, a email address) in order to authenticate and join Office Hours via Zoom. If you do not have a full service account, please contact us at

If you can't make any of the Office Hours sessions, you can also make an appointment with Sherlock's support team.

What to expect#

  • We cannot accommodate walk-ins: we're unfortunately not staffed to welcome unscheduled visits, so please make sure that you're planning to stop by during office hours. We will not be able to help you otherwise.

  • We can rarely help with application-specific or algorithm problems.

  • You should plan your projects sufficiently in advance and not come to office hours at the last minute before a deadline. Sherlock is a busy resource with several thousand users and you should not expect your jobs to complete before a given date.

  • Not all questions and problems can be answered or solved during office hours, especially ones involving hardware, filesystem or network issues. Sherlock features several thousand computing, networking and storage components, that are constantly being monitored by our team. You can be sure that when Sherlock has an issue, we are aware of it and working on it.

User community#

Sherlock is present on the Stanford Slack Grid, and you're more than welcome to join the following channels:

  • #sherlock-announce, for announcements related to Sherlock and its surrounding services,
  • #sherlock-users, as a place for Sherlock users to connect directly with each other. If you have general questions about Sherlock, want to reach out to other Sherlock users to share tips, good practices, tutorials or other info, please feel free to do so there.

For more details about the SRCC Slack Workspace, and instructions on how to join this workspace and its channels, please see the Stanford Research Computing support page.

Slack is not an official support channel

Please note that while Stanford Research Computing staff will monitor these channels, the official way to get support is still to email us at

Quick Start#

If you're in a rush1, here's a 3-step ultra-quick start:

  1. connect to Sherlock
$ ssh
  1. get an interactive session on a compute node
[kilian@sh-ln01 login! ~]$ sh_dev
  1. run a command
[kilian@sh02-01n58 ~]$ module load python
[kilian@sh02-01n58 ~]$ python -c "print('Hello Sherlock')"
Hello Sherlock

Congrats! You ran your first job on Sherlock!


Here's what it looks like in motion:

  1. even in a rush, you'll still need an account on the cluster. See the Prerequisites page for details.