Understanding Task Types


Updated: January 13, 2014

Applies To: Microsoft HPC Pack 2012, Microsoft HPC Pack 2012 R2

In HPC Pack, the Type task property helps define how to run a command. The default value for task Type is Basic. A Basic task runs a command once. The other task types create sub-tasks that each run an instance of the command. A task can include up to 1,000,000 sub-tasks.


In tasks that include sub-tasks, you can use the asterisk (*) character as a placeholder for the parametric sweep index (in Parametric Sweep tasks) or for the sub-task ID (in Service, Node Preparation, and Node Release tasks). You can include more than one asterisk (*) to indicate the minimum number of positions to use when expressing the number of the index or sub-task. This does not limit numbers that require more positions. This placeholder can be useful when defining the command or the input and output files for the task. For more information and examples, see Tasks with sub-tasks and the asterisk (*).

The following table describes the property values:

Task Type values




Runs a single instance of a serial application or a Message Passing Interface (MPI) application. An MPI application typically runs concurrently on multiple cores and can span multiple nodes.

Define a Basic or MPI Task

Parametric Sweep

Runs a command a specified number of times (indicated by start, end, and increment values), generally across indexed input and output files. The steps of the sweep may or may not run in parallel, depending on the resources that are available on the cluster when the task is running.

Define a Parametric Sweep Task

Node Preparation

Runs a command or script on each compute node as it is allocated to the job, even when nodes are added dynamically (grow policy). The Node Preparation task runs on a node before any other task in the job.

If the Node Preparation task fails to run on a node, then that node will not be added to the job.

Define a Node Preparation Task

Node Release

Runs a command or script on compute each node as it is released from the job, even when nodes are removed dynamically (shrink policy).

The maximum run time (in seconds) for Node Release tasks is defined by the cluster administrator with the NodeReleaseTaskTimeout cluster parameter. You cannot override this run time limitation. By default, the timeout is set to 15 seconds. To see the value of this cluster parameter, you can run the following command (the search string is case sensitive): cluscfg listparams|find “NodeReleaseTaskTimeout”

Node Release tasks run when a job is canceled. Node Release tasks do not run when the job is force canceled.


If a job has a maximum run time and a Node Release task, the job scheduler cancels the other tasks in the job before the run time of the job expires (job run time minus Node Release task run time). This allows the Node Release task to run within the allocated time for the job.

Define a Node Release Task


Runs a command or service on all resources that are allocated to the job. New instances of the command run when new resources are added to the job, or if a previously running instance exits and the resource that it was running on is still allocated to the job. Service tasks continue to start instances until the job is canceled or stopped, the maximum run time expires, or until the maximum number of instances (sub-tasks) is reached.

Tasks that are submitted through a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) client run as Service tasks.

You cannot add a Basic task or a Parametric Sweep task to a job that contains a Service task.

Define a Service Task

The following task properties do not apply to tasks which are started on a per-resource basis, and they cannot be set on Node Preparation, Node Release, or Service tasks:

  • Number of cores, sockets, nodes

  • Required nodes

  • Exclusive

  • Rerunnable

  • Depends (task dependencies)

  • Parameter sweep settings