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What does "oom-kill" mean?

OOM stands for "Out Of Memory", and so an error such as this:

slurmstepd: error: Detected 1 oom-kill event(s) in step 370626.batch cgroup

indicates that your job attempted to use more memory (RAM) than Slurm reserved for it.  

OOM events can happen even without Slurm's sacct command reporting such a high memory usage, for two reasons:

  • Unlike the enforcement via cgroups, Slurm's accounting system only records usage every 30 seconds, so sudden spikes in memory usage may not be recorded, but can still trigger the OOM killer;
  • Slurm's accounting system also does not include any temporary files the job may have put in the memory-based /tmp or $TMPDIR filesystems.

If you see an OOM event, you have two options. The easier option is to request more memory by increasing the value of the --mem argument in your job submission script. The more difficult, but potentially more useful where it is feasible, is to make your job less memory-intensive.