1. Introduction
    1. Environment
    2. Data Base Location
  2. How to Run
    1. Example on Partition "gpu"
    2. Example on Partition "fct"
    3. Example on Partition "hpc"
    4. sbatch Options
  3. Benchmarks
  4. References

1. Introduction

The INCD team prepared a local installation of AlphaPhold using a container based on UDOCKER (instead of DOCKER) and includes the Genetic Database.

The local installation provide the AlphaFold version 2.1.1 over a container based on Ubuntu 18.04 distribution with cuda-11.0 and cudnn-8.

The main resource target of AlphaFold is the GPU but the application also execute only on the CPU although the performance is substantially worst, see the Benchmarks section bellow.

1.1 Environment

The environment is activate with command

$ module load udocker/alphaphold/2.1.1

this will activate automatically a virtual environment ready to start the AlphaFold container throught the python script

1.2 Data Base Location

The Genetic Database is installed bellow the filesystem directory


on read-only mode, upgrades may be requested using the address.

1.3 Script

The script was adapted from the script normally used by AlphaFold with the docker container technology.

The accept the same options as the script with a few minor changes that we hope it will facilitate user interaction. The user may change the script behavour throught environment variables or command line options, we can see only the changes bellow:

Optional environment variables:

Variable Name Default Value Comment
DOWNLOAD_DIR none Genetic database location (absolute path)
OUPTPUT_DIR none Output results directory (absolute path)

Command line options:

Command Option Mandatory Default Value Comment
--data_dir no /local/alphafold or
Genetic database location, takes precedence over DOWNLOAD_DIR when both are selected
--output_dir no <working_dir>/output Absolute path to the results directory, takes precedence over OUTPUT_DIR when both are selected

The option --data_dir is required on the standard AlphaFold script, we choose to select automatically the location of the genetic database but the user may change this path throught the environment variable DOWNLOAD_DIR or the command line option --data_dir. When possible, we provide a local copy to the workernodes of the database directory in order to improve job performance.

The AlphaFold standard output results directory location is /tmp/alphafold by default, please note that we change this location to the local working directory, the user can select a different path throught the environment variable OUTPUT_DIR or the command line option --output_dir.

2. How to Run

We only need a protein and a submition script, if we analyze multiple proteins on parallel it is advise to submit then from different directory in order to avoid interference between runs.

2.1 Example on Partition "gpu"

Lets analyze the protein, for example.

Create a working directory and get the protein:

[user@cirrus ~]$ mkdir run_P19113
[user@cirrus ~]$ cd run_P19113
[user@cirrus run_P19113]$ wget -q

Use your favority editor the create the submition script*:

[user@cirrus run_P19113]$ emacs
# -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
#SBATCH --job-name=P19113
#SBATCH --partition=gpu
#SBATCH --mem=50G
#SBATCH --ntasks=4
#SBATCH --gres=gpu
# -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
module purge
module load udocker/alphafold/2.1.1 --fasta_paths=P19113.fasta --max_template_date=2020-05-14

Finally, submit your job, check if it is running and wait for it:

[user@cirrus run_P19113]$ sbatch
[user@cirrus run_P19113]$ squeue

When finish the local directory ./output will have the analyze results.

2.2 Example on Partition "fct"

[user@cirrus run_P19113]$ emacs
# -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
#SBATCH --job-name=P19113
#SBATCH --partition=fct
#SBATCH --qos=<qos>
#SBATCH --account=<account>		# optional on most cases
#SBATCH --mem=50G
#SBATCH --ntasks=4
#SBATCH --gres=gpu
# -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
module purge
module load udocker/alphafold/2.1.1 --fasta_paths=P19113.fasta --max_template_date=2020-05-14

2.3 Example on Partition "hpc"

[user@cirrus run_P19113]$ emacs
# -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
#SBATCH --job-name=P19113
#SBATCH --partition=hpc
#SBATCH --mem=50G
#SBATCH --ntasks=4
# -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
module purge
module load udocker/alphafold/2.1.1 --fasta_paths=P19113.fasta --max_template_date=2020-05-14

2.4 sbatch Options


The best job performance is achivied on the gpu or fct partitions, the later is restricted to users with a valid QOS.

The alphafold and also run on the hpc partition but is this case it will use only a slower CPU and there is no GPU available, the total run time is roughly eight times greather when compared to jobs executed on the gpu or fct partitions.


The default job memory allocation per cpu depends on the used partition but it may be insuficient, we recommend you to request 50GB of memory, the benchmarks sugest this value should be enough on all cases.


Apparentelly this is the maximum number of tasks needed by the application, we didn't get any noticible improvement when rising this parameter.


The partitions gpu and fct provide up to eight GPUs. The application was built for compute using GPU, there is no point is requesting more than one GPU, we didn't notice any improvement on the total run time. We also notice that the total compute time for both types of available GPUs is similar.

The alphafold also run only on CPU but the total run time increase substantial, as seen on benchmarks results bellow.

4. Benchmarks

We made some benchmarks with the protein P19113 in order to help users organizing their work.

The results bellow sugest that the best choice would be use four CPU tasks, one GPU and let the system select the local copy of the genetic data base on the workernodes.

Since a GPU run takes roughly two hours and half then users may run up to thirty five protein analyzes in one submit job, as long they are executed in sequence.

gpu/fct EPYC_7552 4 Tesla_T4 1 1 /local/alphafold 02:22:19
gpu/fct EPYC_7552 4 Tesla_V100S 1 1 /local/alphafold 02:38:21
gpu/fct EPYC_7552 4 Tesla_T4 2 1 /local/alphafold 02:22:25
gpu/fct EPYC_7552 4 Tesla_T4 1 1 /users3/data/alphafold 15:59:50
gpu/fct EPYC_7552 4 Tesla_V100S 1 1 /users3/data/alphafold 11:40:04
gpu/fct EPYC_7552 4 Tesla_T4 2 1 /users3/data/alphafold 14:58:52
gpu/fct EPYC_7552 4 0 1 /local/alphafold 16:17:32
gpu/fct EPYC_7552 4 0 1 /users3/data/alphafold 18:22:07
gpu/fct EPYC_7552 4 0 4 /local/alphafold 17:53:25
hpc EPYC_7501 4 0 3 /local/alphafold 21:44:35
hpc EPYC_7501 32 0 1 /local/alphafold 16:35:59
hpc EPYC_7501 4 0 1 /users3/data/alphafold 1-02:28:33
hpc EPYC_7501 16 0 1 /users3/data/alphafold 1-03:42:23
hpc EPYC_7501 32 0 1 /users3/data/alphafold 1-03:15:19

5. References