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Quest Overview

The University's high performance computing (HPC) system is called Quest. Housed at one of the University's secure Data Center facilities, it offers a large, shared computational facility. Quest is used for a variety of projects, including those that require high-performance capability due to computationally intensive tasks, such as intense numerical calculations or dealing with extremely large datasets. 

Quest users have the opportunity to:

Computing Services

Computing services available from Quest are:

Accessing Quest

University researchers and educators, including postdoctoral researchers, are eligible to apply for an allocation of time on Quest as computational investigators (CIs) for the purpose of research or education. All applications are reviewed by Research Computing Services and the high performance computing Allocation Committee (when applicable). Upon approval, the CI is contacted directly to confirm application status. Information on the types of allocations supported by Quest, application deadlines, and required documentation can be found in the Allocation Submission and Review Guidelines.

Authorized users are granted access to Quest and given a 80GB home directory. There are two types of access:

Basic Access

Basic Access to Quest is provided via a Research Allocation. Allocations are granted for the period of a year and are renewable.  CI’s may apply for multiple unique project allocations.  Researchers accessing Quest via a Research Allocation have access to the computational power of most of Quest’s compute nodes for jobs with durations of four hours or less, and to approximately 20 percent of Quest’s compute nodes for longer jobs.

Full Access

Full Access to Quest guarantees access to purchased resources within 4 hours of scheduling a job. The annual processor allocation resulting from the CI’s contribution of funds is guaranteed for a period of five years and may be divided among group members at the discretion of the CI.

To request Full Access to Quest, eligible researchers must submit The Letter of Intent to Become a Full Access User of Quest, found in Appendix A of Purchase of High Performance Computing (HPC) Central Compute Resources by Northwestern Researchers pdf, include funding documentation, and be signed by Northwestern IT, The Office of the Provost, and the Office for Research.


Basic Access is centrally provided at no cost to approved users of Quest.

Full Access use of hardware varies by resource option and need. The list of equipment options and cost is described in the Purchase of High Performance Computing (HPC) Central Compute Resources by Northwestern Researchers pdf document.

Installation Cycles

Technology refreshes occur each summer during June. Installation cycles happen year round.

To learn more about Quest and request access, visit Quest Documentation and Tutorials.

Quest Storage and Data Policy

For further information on storage limits and access expiration, please refer to the Quest Storage and Data Policy.

Last Updated: 19 September 2022

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