Using Bpipe with Cluster Resource Management Systems

In some environments commands cannot be issued directly but must be queued and run in a managed environment that controls how long they can run for and what resources (memory, CPU, storage space, etc) they can use. Bpipe supports integration with third-party Resource Manager software to run commands that are part of your pipeline in this kind of environment. Out of the box Bpipe supports Torque PBS, Sun / Oracle Grid Engine, and Platform LSF. Others can be integrated if you implement a simple adapter shell script that can relay commands between Bpipe and the resource manager software.

Using a Resource Manager

To make Bpipe use a Resource Manager to execute commands, you make a small file in the local directory (the same place as your pipeline script) called "bpipe.config". In this script you can place a single line that names the resource manager - for example:


With this line you will get all Bpipe commands passed to the Torque queue (via the "qsub" program) using a default set of parameters and Bpipe will monitor the queue for you to pause until the job finishes and to retrieve the exit status from the command. If a Torque job fails or times out then Bpipe will abort the pipeline just like it normally would and commands such as 'bpipe stop' will interface with Torque to cancel your jobs. In short, everything will work just as if you were running the command normally with Bpipe.

Note: you can place 'global' configuration for executors in a file in your home directory called ".bpipeconfig". These will be shared by all Bpipe pipelines in any directory, but any local configuration will override global configurations.

Resource Manager Options

Although the above is very easy, it will unfortunately not work for all jobs because the default parameters that Bpipe uses will be either too large (causing your commands to wait a long time in the queue for resources or maybe even to never run at all) or too small (causing your commands to run but fail because they run out of time, do not have enough memory, storage space or violate other constraints). The bpipe.config file allows you to adjust the options that are used for running your commands globally, on a per command basis or even based on the size or type of files involved.

The following options are supported:

  • walltime - how long the job is allowed to run. See below for format details
  • procs - number of processors - can be a Groovy range such as 1..5
  • queue - the queue to use (default = "batch")
  • memory - amount of memory to reserve (GB). Eg: "4"
  • account - the account under which to run the command

The walltime parameter can be specified in several different ways. The most human friendly way to specify it is using the format "hh:mm:ss". For example, to allow 3 hours and 30 minutes for a job, you can specify:


Alternatively, you can also specify the walltime as a simple integer number of seconds, in which case the value 12600 would work instead:


Finally, as a slightly more advanced option, you can specify the wall time as a n executable statement that returns the number of seconds. The statement receives an array of File objects that you can use to compute how large the walltime should be. For example:

walltime={ files -> files.size() ** 12600 }  // 3.5 hours for each file

To make Bpipe use to total size of all the files to determine the time you could use something like this:

walltime={ files -> files**.length().sum() / (1024*1024) * 60 } // 1 minute per MB

Note that in this case the expression will be evaluated for each command executed, so each command will get a different walltime.

Different Options for Different Commands

So far as we have described things options would apply globally to every command Bpipe executes. However obviously different commands will need different resources, so it is important to allow for that. Bpipe lets you customize resources in two ways. First, you can override the configuration based on the command that is executed. For example, you could override the resources for the "bwa" command as follows:

walltime="03:30:00" // default is 3.5 hours
commands {
    bwa {
        walltime="07:00:00" // bwa will take twice as long

Note that Bpipe matches the configuration by parsing the start of the command you execute. This means that it only works for simple commands where the command happens to be the first token in the text passed to the 'exec' command. So this would work:

    exec "bwa aln test.fastq > test.sai"

But this would not work:

    exec "time (bwa aln test.fastq > test.sai)"

For more complicated cases you can override the configuration using a completely arbitrary configuration name that you supply after the "exec" command itself. So the second example could be made to work by modifying the "exec" portion:

    exec "time (bwa aln test.fastq > test.sai)","bwa"

The bpipe multi statement uses a slightly different syntax to specify a configuration for each command where for each command the configuration name is placed first and the command follows after colon (groovy Map syntax):

    multi small_bwa: "bwa aln -t $threads small.fastq > test.small.sai",
          big_bwa: "bwa aln -t $threads big.fastq.gz > test.large.sai"

The above runs BWA twice in parallel, but one has a configuration anmed "small_bwa" while the other has a configuration called "big_bwa".

Customizing Submit Options

In some systems there are some options that can only be provided as arguments to the submission command (eg: to qsub). To allow customization of these options in cases where the generic options supported by Bpipe are not sufficient, the custom_submit_options configuration can be set to inject arbitrary arguments into the submission command itself. For example:

commands {
    mycommand {
        custom_submit_options="-ac FOO=bar"

PBS Torque Options

Torque clusters may use different options for requesting cores depending on the configuration of the cluster. To request cores using the procs=n option with Torque, leave the configuration as its default. However if your cluster requires the format nodes=1:ppn=n option, you should set proc_mode=1 in your bpipe.config file.

Additionally, bpipe also supports requesting GPU hardware when configured with torque. To request gpus, add gpus=n where n is the number of GPUs you are requesting. At the moment, there is not any specific support to request the type of GPU.

Sun Grid Engine Options

In order to enable the Sun Grid Engine (SGE) resource manager define the following entry in the bpipe.config file :


The configuration options available are the same as described above, with the exception for the account option which is not supported.

The amount of memory to be reserved can be specified with the memory option. Values without any units is interpreted as number of bytes. Optionally it is possible to use M for mega-byte and G for giga-byte. Eg "100M" or "2G".

Parallel environment

To specify the parallel environment configuration, use the procs option providing the parallel environment name and the number of processes on which your parallel (MPI or OpenMP) application should run. For example:

   procs="orte 8" 

The parallel environment can also be specified separately:


This latter method enables more flexible assignment of processors for different commands if you want to share the same parallel environment between them.

Advanced configuration

Bpipe submits jobs requests to the SGE resource manager through the qsub command. Experienced users may want/need to have fine control on the job submitting parameters. Using the option sge_request_options, it is possible to provide any configuration parameter accepted by the qsub command. For example:

   sge_request_options="-v VAR=value" 

The above example uses the -v parameter to define a variable named VAR in the target execution environment. Multiple parameters can be specified in the same option. Read more about the available parameters on the qsub manual.

Platform LSF

Pipeline execution thought the Platform LSF grid engine can be enabled specifying the string lsf as the executor in the bpipe.config file, as shown below:


The following options are supported by the LSF executor:

  • queue - the queue to which the job(s) have to be submitted
  • jobname - an optional name for the job
  • lsf_request_options - any optional submission parameters accepted by the bsub command can be specified here.

For example:

  lsf_request_options="-M 500000 -m 'hostA hostD hostB' -R 'rusage[swap=50]' "


PBS Pro is mostly configured the same way as the Torque engine is - use:

queue="<your queue name>"

Once that is configured, use the "procs" and "memory" options. Note that "memory" can only be specified in GB.

If you want to override these with more complex configuration you can pass in a "select" statement:


However, note that the ncpus in the select statement is not automatically integrated with Bpipe's automated concurrency management. For example, if you use -n to control total concurrency, Bpipe won't know about the value embedded in your select statement, unless you specify it explicitly (eg: with "using").

Module Loading

Some environments provide ability to add and remove tools from the environment in a modular fashion. Bpipe supports two such frameworks:

  • dotkit
  • module

These allow you to specify modules to load with each command, or to specify a default set for your whole pipeline. This is achieved in the bpipe.config file (or equivalent):

// Load Java 1.8 and Perl 5.18.1 for all commands using "module"


// Load Java 1.8 and Perl 5.18.1 for all commands using "use"

These can also be specified separately for any given command.