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High-Performance Computing (Quest)

Northwestern IT offers support, training, and computational resources for high-performance and high-throughput computing on Quest, Northwestern’s high-performance computing (HPC) cluster. Housed at one of the University's secure data center facilities, Quest offers a large, shared computational facility. Quest is suitable for workloads requiring large amounts of computational resources, including parallel computation, data processing and analysis, multi-stage pipelines, and long-running batch computing jobs. Support for using national facilities, such as XSEDE, and cloud resources, such as AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure is also available.


Features and Benefits

The Quest Analytics Nodes offer Jupyter, RStudio, and SAS Studio for interactive analysis in a web browser, backed by Quest’s file system and computational resources beyond what is normally available on a personal workstation.

The Genomics Compute Cluster is a portion of Quest and is available to all researchers doing computational research in the field of genomics. Support for use of the cluster, building and troubleshooting pipelines, and training is available.

Quest is not HIPAA-compliant and is not suitable for storing or analyzing personally-identifiable information (PII).

Northwestern IT also facilitates access to national shared computing resources via XSEDE and offers support and training for cloud computing environments. HIPAA-compliant computing environments can be created using cloud services.

Available to



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

Full Access varies by resource option and need. The list of most equipment options and cost is described in Purchase of High Performance Computing (HPC) Central Compute Resources by Northwestern ResearchersPDF.

Cloud Services

Cloud services follow a pay-as-you-go model, where the user pays only for the services they create and use. For more information or to request a consultation to discuss your needs, please email


While there is no cost to using the shared resources that XSEDE provides, a proposal must be submitted and approved by the XSEDE Resource Allocation Committee. For more information or to request a consultation, please email

How to Request Service


Basic Access

University researchers and educators interested in using Quest, including postdoctoral researchers, are eligible to apply for an allocation to access computing resources for the purpose of research or education. All applications are reviewed by Research Computing Services. Information on the types of allocations supported by Quest, application deadlines, and required documentation can be found in the Allocation Submission and Review Guidelines.

Full Access

Full Access is available through purchasing computational resources on Quest. This is provided at a subsidized cost and guarantees that jobs will start within 4 hours of submission time. Immediate access is available through additional cost.

Cloud Services

If your research can benefit from a computational environment in the cloud, including Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud Platform, please email


While access to XSEDE requires an application through the XSEDE process, assistance in this process is provided by Northwestern IT. Please email


Last Updated: 5 September 2019

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