NERSCPowering Scientific Discovery Since 1974

The NERSC Allocation Request Form (ERCAP)

Requests to use NERSC resources are submitted annually via a web form known as the ERCAP (Energy Research Computing Allocations Process) Request Form. ERCAP is accessed through the NERSC Information Management (NIM) web interface and is available year-round. 

If you are new to NERSC and want to apply for an allocation as a new Principal Investigator please read Applying for your First NERSC Allocation.

In general existing projects should be renewed for the next allocation year - you should not start a new request if you have an existing repository.  Renewing carries forward most of the responses to the request questions and preserves the project's user list.

Renewing a Current Project

If you have existing repositories you should usually renew them; this preserves your user lists.  Point your browser to, and login to NIM. Click the My Stuff menu and select My ERCAP Requests. You will see a list of your ERCAP requests.

To renew an existing project for the next allocation year click its Renew link.  Your renewed ERCAP Project Overview will load.  After you click the Save Project Overview button the project PI name and title will appear.  You can then click on any ERACP tab in any order, but before switching tabs you must click a tab's Save button to save any edits you have made to that section.

To continue working on a proposal you have previously saved click on its Edit link.  Do NOT start a new request!

Starting a New Request

After logging into NIM, click the My Stuff menu and select My ERCAP Requests, then scroll to the bottom of the ERCAP requests list of titles and click the Start a new request link.  Note, however, that existing NERSC users who are not yet registered as a PI or PI Proxy, will see instead a button labeled Click here to start a new ERCAP request as a PI.

During times when you can submit a new request either for the current year or for the next year (typically between late August and December) you will be prompted for the request year.  If you want to compute during the current year make sure to chose the current year (which is selected by default).  Then click Start new ERCAP request.

The ERCAP application form will now load. The questions on the application form are divided into several pages. Each set of questions is grouped on a page under a tab. You will be in the first page, called Project Overview.  Once you have answered the questions in this section, click the Save Project Overview button.  After that you can click on any ERACP tab in any order, but you must click a tab's Save button to save edits you have made to that section.

To continue working on a proposal you have previously saved click on its Edit link. (Please do not start a new request.)

Project Overview Tab

Principal Investigators, PI Proxies and Senior Investigators

The Principal Investigator, commonly referred to as the PI, is responsible for the project and for managing any resources awarded to the project. The PI is usually one of the PIs on a grant listed on the DOE Funding tab.

If your project has multiple PIs, please pick one to be the NERSC PI. Other PIs can be listed as Senior Investigators and/or PI Proxies. Senior Investigators are the key contributors in your project. If you need to change the PI for the project contact the Account Support Group at

A Principal Investigator can designate one or more "PI Proxies" as Authorized Preparers who help to to fill out the request form and to manage the project's users.  You can add a PI Proxy to your project by clicking the Add a preparer (PI Proxy) link. (NOTE: This link is not displayed until after you have clicked on the Save Project Overview button the first time.)

Project Title, URL, Image, and Name

Please choose a project title that succinctly describes your project, suitable for display in award lists and in NERSC's Annual Report. The NERSC Project Title is not required to match the title of any existing DOE grant or project.  The Title is limited to 256 characters; shorter titles are preferable (100 or fewer characters). In summary, the title should be short and descriptive.

All projects should provide a project URL; these are useful in obtaining additional information about a project (e.g. when responding to queries for information).

You are encouraged to upload a "logo image" for your project. These images are used to identify projects  on NERSC web pages that describe large running jobs, science news, press releases, and displays at the SuperComputing conferences.  The maximum image size you may upload is 20 MB. Acceptable image types are png (preferred), jpg and gif.  It is best to use a square image (one that has the same number of pixels on both sides). Images will be vetted by NERSC staff before being displayed publicly.

Also choose a short project name (10 characters maximum) that uniquely identifies your project. Examples of such project names are "MPICH" (for the project that supports MPICH software development) and "STAR" (for the project that analyzes data from the STAR experiment). If you wish, you may use a repository name as your project name.

Project Class

Choose one of:

  • ALCC project: only if you have received an ALCC award from DOE.  The ASCR Leadership Computing Challenge (ALCC) awards are solicited and awarded by DOE's Advanced Scientific Computing Research office once a year.  See the ALCC page.
  • CSGF project: if you have a DOE Computational Science Graduate Fellowship.
  • DOE Base: for production-ready projects that receive direct grant support from one of the six DOE Offices of Science or whose research reflects the mission of the Office of Science. See Eligibility and DOE Mission.
  • Director Reserve project: only if your project has been sponsored by the NERSC director.
  • Education: only if the project is for classroom teaching (and not research).
  • SBIR project: if you have DOE Small Business Innovation Research funding.
  • SciDAC: if you have DOE SciDAC funding.
  • Sponsored project: only if you are renewing a dedicated or sponsored project.
  • Startup: for PIs who wish to investigate using NERSC resources for new projects, or who wish to port or develop new codes. The maximum Startup awards are 50,000 Cray XT4 equivalent hours and 15,000 Storage Resource Units (SRUs).

Sponsoring Site

The sponsoring site is usually the host institution of the requesting PI.  If your site is not listed, click on the link to add a new organization. A pop-up window will appear:

  1. Enter the Organization name.
  2. Selet the appropriate Organization Type (one of DOE Lab, Industry, Non-Profit, Other Gov Lab, Private Lab, University).
  3. Enter one or two lines for the organization's mailing address.
  4. Enter the City.
  5. For the US, select the US State.
  6. Enter the Postal or ZIP Code
  7. For non US organizations, enter the Province.
  8. Select the Country.
  9. Enter the organization's website address in the form (do not prepend http://).

Science Category

Select the Science Category that best categorizes your project. Please do not select Other (this is just a place holder).

The science categories for 2015 are:

  • Accelerator Science
  • Applied Math
  • Astrophysics
  • Biosciences
  • Chemistry
  • Climate Research
  • Combustion
  • Computer Science
  • Engineering
  • Environmental Science
  • Fusion Energy
  • Geoscience
  • High Energy Physics
  • Humanities
  • Lattice QCD
  • Materials Science
  • Nuclear Energy
  • Nuclear Physics
  • Other

DOE Office and Program

If you are funded by the DOE Office of Science select the Office and Program that fund your project.

If you are not funded by the DOE Office of Science, see Eligibility

DOE Funding Tab

Is this project funded by the DOE Office of Science?

Select either "Yes" or "No."

If you chose "Yes"

  1. Answer the question: Who is your DOE Program Manager? This is the DOE person or people who administer your DOE Office of Science grant. They are not Lab LDRD managers.
  2. List all relevant DOE Office of Science (DOE SC) grant numbers that apply to this project.
  3. If NERSC resources are being used to support research funded by another agency (not DOE SC), list the funding agencies and grant numbers.

If you chose "No"

  1. List all relevant grants that are supporting your project. Include both the grant number and the name of the funding agency in the appropriate box:
    • DOE, other than Office of Science: grants supported by areas of DOE outside the Office of Science (e.g. Office of Nuclear Energy, Science, and Technology; Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy). Lab LDRD support can be listed here as well.
    • Work for others at DOE laboratory: the PI is located at a DOE laboratory but receives funding from outside of DOE SC.
    • Other funding agencies: e.g. NASA, NSF, NOAA
    • Other Funding: e.g. University department
  2. Describe your project's relevance to the mission of the DOE Office you selected in question 9. See Eligibility and DOE Mission.  PLEASE NOTE: The purpose of this section is NOT to state how important your project is; that happens in the Project Description Tab.  The purpose of this section is to state how the goals of your project overlap with or align with the mission of DOE Office of Science.  Your startup request will be evaluated partly on the basis of alignment with a DOE office mission.  Find one of the mission statements and give just two or three sentences stating how and why your work is related to it.

Legal Controls Questions

Does this project intend to make use of any information (software or data) subject to the following legal controls on use?

  • Classified or controlled military or defense information
  • Export controlled or ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) information
  • Personally identifiable information
  • Protected health information
  • Proprietary information
  • None

You must click on one of these options, or you will not be able to submit your request. If you select something other than "None", you will be given a text box to explain your answer. If necessary, NERSC will contact you to get more information.

Usage Monitoring Questions

If this project is given a NERSC award, I agree to monitor the usage associated with it to ensure that, to the best of my ability to determine, usage is for the project described here.

Select either "Yes" or "No."

You must answer this question or you will not be able to submit your ERCAP request.

For continuing projects: I have audited the MPP and/or HPSS usage associated with this project, and to the best of my ability to determine, all usage was for the project specified.

Select either "Yes", "No", or "N/A".

If this is a new project, you can select "N/A" as the answer to this question.

Project Description Tab

Project Summary

Please provide a succinct description of your project that is suitable for the general public (i.e., at a Scientific American level of sophistication). This description should emphasize what the project expects to accomplish and the significance of the work.

You can include a long, technical project description as a PDF document to upload in question 12.2.

Accomplishments Summary

Summarize in non-technical terms the accomplishments made by this project using NERSC resources in the previous year. Explain why your results are important and how the use of NERSC resources allowed you to meet your research objectives. This is optional for Startup requests.

You can include a long, technical description of your project's accomplishemnts as a PDF document to upload in question 13.2.

Refereed Publications

List all refereed publications in the last 12 months based on research using NERSC resources. You may include publications that are accepted and are in press, or published in journals but not publications in preparation. If this is a renewal request, Do Not include publications that were entered here last year. Please indicate if your article was highlighted on a journal cover.

Enter in the order authors, title, journal.

Please do not dump information from latex into this area!  Ideally you will enter all information as plain text.

Other Publications

Here you may include publications that have been submutted but not yet published, as well as non refereed publications.

Resources Requested Tab

Computational Resources

NERSC's computational resources share a common "MPP" (which stands for Massively Parallel Processing) allocation. For 2016, the MPP systems will be Edison and Cori. See Usage Charging.

Under Alloc Type select one of:

  • DOE Production:  for  production-ready projects, including SciDAC projects, awarded by DOE
  • Startup:  for PIs who wish to investigate using small amounts of NERSC resources for new projects
  • ALCC Awards: only if you have received an ALCC award from DOE
  • Director Reserve Allocations: only if your project has been approved by the NERSC director
  • Education: only if the project is for classroom teaching
  • Sponsored Allocations: only if you have a dedicated or sponsored project (the name was changed from dedicated to sponsored for 2014).

Genepool Shares

Joint Genome Institute (JGI) Genepool projects must be pre-approved by the JGI.  Genepool users will see a list of their current shares (GPSHARES). Click the GPSHARE names you need in 2016; after a save they will be renewed for 2016.

Please do not request a Genepool "GPSHARE" unless you are an Authorized Genepool user.

Project Directories

Disk space quotas for project directories will be formally allocated in 2016. NGF project directories are renewed for 2016 by entering the Storage Requested 2016 amounts in TiBs. After a Save the project directory will be renewed.

Archival Storage

All NERSC projects have accounts on the mass storage system, HPSS. The storage accounting units are SRUs (Storage Resource Units). A SRU Calculator is available to compute your estimated 2016 HPSS Storage Resource Units (click on the "Show SRU Calculator" link). See HPSS Charging.

Also, please enter how much HPSS Archival storage space you anticipate you will need. Please enter the number in Terabytes.

Enter how much Scratch space your project will need. Also in Terabytes.

Brief Justification for Resources Requested Above

Tell us how you determined/estimated the number of MPP hours and storage/scratch space you requested above.

Events or Deadlines Affecting Computational needs Through the Year

Please describe any time(s) this coming allocation year that you expect will spike your demand for resources.

Real-Time Computing Needs

Does your project require real-time computing resources? For example does your project require immediate access to computing resources because it is connected to a live experiment. Please select either "Yes" or "No". If you answer "Yes", you will be presented with a text box to explain your answer.


This section is for PDSF users only - please skip this section if you are not an authorized PDSF user.  PDSF is used by researchers in the high energy physics and nuclear science communities and access must be pre-approved by the PDSF Steering Committee.

Existing PDSF repos are listed on the PDSF tab. Select the box(es) in the Renew? column for each PDSF repo you want renewed for the next allocation year. Then click the black arrow to renew them.

To request a brand new PDSF repository (please do this ONLY if you have been pre-approved):

  1. Select Yes to the question Do you need a new PDSF repo?
  2. Enter a short descriptive name (3 to 8 characters long, all lower case) that describes your physics experiment. If your project is not a "physics experiment" enter a name that describes your research project.
  3. Click the Save button at the bottom of the page.

You must also answer questions 19.2 - 19.5.

Code Description(s) Tab

The code descriptions you provide are used by DOE and NERSC to evaluate the type and extent of machine resources that users require.

A code description should be provided for each of your project's most frequently used codes and applications. The information for each code is contained under a tab for that code. Click on the "Add another code" tab to type in your answers for another code.

If you want to remove a code description, click on its x button.

If renewing, please check:

  1. That you still intend to use all of the codes listed - delete those you no longer use.
  2. Add new codes as needed.
  3. Check that the information provided for each code is still accurate.

The following information is requested for each code:

  • Code Name: This is the name by which your code is known, e.g. NIMROD, AMBER.
  • Code Description: Provide a brief description of the code. What does the code do, what are the science questions it addresses?
  • URL for Code Description
  • What are the numerical techniques employed? (2015) Check all that apply 
  • Machines to be used: On which NERSC machines do you plan to run this code (assuming you get an award)?
  • Percent of allocation: What percent of the project's overall allocation do you expect this code to use? Enter a number without the % sign.  The numbers for all your codes should add up to 100.
  • What is the maximum number of cores(2015)/nodes(2016) the code can use?
  • What is the typical number of cores(2015)/nodes(2016) used by this code in production runs?
  • If you run serial jobs, how many simultaneous jobs would you like to run?
  • How do you perform I/O?
  • Programming Languages Used: Check as many languages and communications libraries as apply from the checklist. You may enter additional languages or communications libraries in the Other box.
  • Parallel Programming Models Used
  • Libraries Called (2015): Check as many libraries as apply from the checklist. You may enter additional libraries in the Other box.
  • Does the code checkpoint? (2015) Select Yes or No.
  • Plans for Code Development or Enhancement (2015): Briefly describe your plans.

Data & Analytics Tab

You may skip the questions that don't apply (or are not important) to your project.  Startup requests may skip this entire section if they wish.

Validating Current User List (For Renewal Requests)

As part of the ERCAP renewal process PIs (or PI Proxies) must certify their current user list. This means: review, correct and certify contact information and project role for your active users. DOE asks this to be done once a year.

The ERCAP system will not let you submit your request until you have certified your user list (renewed requests only).

Project roles are:

  • Principal Investigator: Can edit the ERCAP request form and manage user lists. This role cannot be selected; if you need to change the project PI contact
  • PI Proxy: Can edit the ERCAP request form and manage users (add/delete users, adjust their quotas).
  • Project Manager: Can manage users (add/delete users, adjust their quotas).
  • User: Can charge time to the project's repositories.
  • Deleted: Is no longer a member of the project. If you select Deleted: the user will be immediately limited and then restricted in all of the project's repositories (you should not delete a PI or PI Proxy - contact NERSC Account Support for this).

PI and PI Proxy role change requests should be submitted to NERSC Account Support.

You should consider deleting users who have been inactive for six or more months, as well as users who have not signed the current Computer User Agreement Form (this is indicated by a value of "OLDFORM" or "NONE" in the column Signed Policies).

The Next Year Status column allows you to indicate whether your project users should be continued in the upcoming year.  The status has been pre-filled to Keep if they have been active and to Delete next AY if they haven't been active in the past 12 months.  You may change theses statuses if you wish.  You now have the ability to delete a user immediately (set the Role to Deleted in the Role column) or at the start of the next allocation year (set the Next Year Status to "Delete Next AY").

When you are done verifying the information for all of your active users (those with a project role other than "Deleted") click the check box that says I certify that the above user information is correct for all active users in this Project. DOE requires that this be done once a year. Then click the Save button.

Other Info

Other HPC Support

List High Performance Computing support from outside NERSC for this project you currently have or expect in the next year. Also, indicate if you have applied for a DOE INCITE award.

Additional Information

If your project has special requirements that you would like NERSC to consider, describe them here. Enter any additional information you would like the review committees to consider in support of this request.


Use this space to provide feedback on ERCAP, the NERSC application/allocation process

Submitting your request

When you have completed answering to your satisfaction all the questions on the request form click the Submit Request tab and click the Finished box.  After a Save your request will be submitted.

Note that the status of your request is displayed in the tab title area ("Not Yet Finished" or "Finished" or "Validated"). Once a request has been validated you may no longer edit it.  You may continue to edit a submitted (but not validated) request. If you need to perform additional editing after your request has been validated, you will need to contact Account Support and ask for your ERCAP request be Un-Validated. 

Printing and saving to disk

To print a request:

  1. Select My ERCAP Requests from the My Stuff pulldown menu.
  2. In the resulting list of your ERCAP requests, click on the Download PDF for the request you want to print.
    1. If you are editing your request, there is a Download PDF link on the far Right-hand side of the Tab Title area.
  3. Then use your browser's Print... option to print the request.

When you have finished your request it is a good idea to save a copy to disk. Click on Download PDF link for the request you want to save and use your browser's Save option.

Advice on answering long text questions

It is not recommended that you directly type in long answers. Rather, compose your answers elsewhere, and paste them into the ERCAP text boxes.

Note for Internet Explorer users: some Explorer browsers interpret a carriage return (the Enter or Return key) in the short text boxes (the text boxes without a scroll bar) as a Save: if you enter a carriage control in a short text box it is as though you had clicked the Save button. Also note that you can use the Tab key to jump to the next text box.

Most of the text boxes have a maximum of 4,000 characters associated with them. If your answer exceeds 4,000 characters you will get an error message when you click Save. You should remove some of your text and try to Save again. 

Using HTML tags

We recommend that you use only a limited set of HTML tags in your answers. The HTML tags below are the ones that are recommended. Note that when you are editing your ERCAP request you will see the HTML tags; when you display the form in read/only mode (by clicking the the Show Complete Request tab) you will see your text as it should appear. If you need any help inserting HTML tags, contact a NERSC consultant.

<pre> and </pre>
Use these around sections of fixed width text to preserve column alignment.
<sup> and </sup>; <sub> and </sub>
Use these in formulas for superscripts and subscripts.
Use this to display an image. This can be useful for formulas: compose your formula with latex or word or some other tool. Save it as a GIF or JPG file at your home site. You can then display it with the <img> tag in an ERCAP text box. Example:
<img src="">

ERCAP error messages

If you enter invalid data into a text box, ERCAP will detect the error situation when you click the Save button. You will see the following red error message on top of the tabs:

FOUND ERRORS ! Please scroll down to correct.
This form cannot be saved until errors are corrected.

You should scroll down until you find another red error message adjacent to the text box that contains the invalid data. Correct the error and click the Save button again. Your work cannot be saved until you have corrected the error.

A common error is entering more than 4,000 characters into a text box. In that case you would see the error message:

*Entered value too long

Correct your error and try saving your answers again by clicking the Save button.

If you try to Finish your request without first validating your user list (this applies to renewals only) you will see the following message:

Please validate your user list before submitting your request. Request has been saved, but not submitted.

Deleting a request

If you need to delete a request contact the Account Support Office for help: 1-800-66-NERSC menu 2, 1-510-486-8612, or