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The Spin Reference document aims to cover all aspects of getting your application to run on Spin.

Spin lets you deploy container images of your application on computing hardware provided by NERSC. You specify information about your application (including: which version of the image to use, what types of storage you need and how to expose its endpoints to the Internet) we provide hardware and manage failover to make your scientific application a success.

Under the hood, Spin is built on Rancher which uses Kubernetes to deploy Docker or Podman containers to a set of compute nodes. For storage, we provide high speed networked disk access, or you can use the NERSC Global Filesystem if you need to share application state between Spin and our Supercomputers.

Some general Spin terminology

Spin, Rancher and Kubernetes use a vast array of terms to refer to various parts of your application and the surrounding infrastructure. We will only cover some of the most frequently used terms here but if you're curious, you may look at the full list.

  • Container image: Blueprint for how a container is created and started. Similar to a tarball with some other important metadata added.

  • Container: Running instance of an image with a private process and storage space. Similar to a regular process - especially a jailed one - and can have child processes. Containers are ephemeral; when the process exits, the container no longer exists.

  • Image Registry: Versioned repository for container images. Organized into namespaces (like directories). Labels are typically applied to images for version control. For example,

  • Pod: One or more very-closely-coupled containers. Pods allow for scaling; for example, a web front-end that is heavily used might be deployed as a pod with a scale of three, meaning it is configured to run three identical containers based on the same image, and load distributed across them.

  • Workload: Set of parameters and rules that define how to create and run a particular pod. Includes the image, scale, settings such as environment variables, storage volumes, etc.

  • Deploy: Create a workload.

  • Ingress: Proxy that allows a workload to be accessible on the network using a DNS name. The ingress in Spin uses the nginx web server software internally.

  • Namespace: Group of workloads. Typically used to group all of the workloads that make up a particular system, but can also be used in other ways; for example, to group all of the workloads that belong to a particular user.

  • Project: Group of workloads, namespaces, ingresses, etc. In Spin, these correspond to NERSC projects. Used for access control; all objects in a project are accessible only to members of the project.

  • Kubernetes: Container scheduling system. Responsible for running all of the above on cluster nodes.

  • Rancher: Orchestration system for Kubernetes clusters. Responsible for managing the Kubernetes configuration and installation. Provides an overarching web user interface, CLI, and internal API; provides authentication and access control to clusters and projects.

Accessing Spin

If you already have Spin access, you can access Spin here:

For those wishing access to Spin, please see our resources below:

SpinUp Workshops

NERSC conducts an instructor-led SpinUp Workshop for New Users several times per year that include an overview of Spin concepts and terms, a series of interactive exercises, and guidance on the design and development process.

For current users of Spin, or users joining NERSC projects already using Spin, there is also a Self-Guided SpinUp alternative. This slightly abbreviated program covers concepts and terms and includes the same interactive exercises as the instructor-led workshop. NERSC approval is required for this option.

Download SpinUp Workshop Materials

The materials for the SpinUp Workshop for New Users and Self-Guided SpinUp are simple slide decks with embedded videos. Either version provides a simple but thorough guide to get started.

Download the workshop materials at the Spin Training and Tutorials page.