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 existing repositories. 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. Select the My ERCAP Requests from the My Stuff pull-down in the NIM main menu. You will see a list of your ERCAP requests in the bottom frame.
To renew an existing project for the next allocation year click on its renew icon. Your renewed ERCAP Project Overview will load in the bottom frame. Scroll to the bottom and click its 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 icon.
Starting a New Request
Select the ERCAP requests link in the NIM main menu, then scroll to the bottom of the ERCAP Requests bottom frame and click the Start a new request link. Note, however, that existing NERSC users who are not yet registered as a PI 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 preset by default). Then click Start new ERCAP request.
The ERCAP application form will now load in the bottom frame. The questions on the application form are divided into several pages. Each page is grouped 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 icon. (Pleae 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 email@example.com.
A Principal Investigator can designate one or more "PI Proxies" 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.
Project Title, 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.
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.
Choose one of:
- ALCC project: 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.
- Data Pilot projects: only if you have been awarded or are renewing an existing data pilot
- Dedicated projects: only if you are renewing a dedicated project
- Education: if the project is for classroom teaching
- NISE project: only if you have been awarded or are renewing an existing NISE project and your entire award comes from NERSC's NISE program)
- SBIR project: if you have DOE Small Business Innovation Research funding
- SciDAC: if you have DOE SciDAC funding
- 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 15,000 Cray XT4 equivalent hours and 10,000 Storage Resource Units.
The sponsoring site is usually the host institution of the request PI. If your site is not included in the pull-down menu, click on the link click here to add it. A pop-up window will appear:
- Enter the Organization name.
- Selet the appropriate Organization Type (one of DOE Lab, Industry, Non-Profit, Other Gov Lab, Provate Lab, University).
- Enter one or two lines for the organization's mailing address.
- Enter the City.
- Select the US State.
- Enter the Postal or ZIP Code
- For non US organizations, enter the Province.
- Select the Country.
- Enter the organizations website address in the form www.name.org (do not prepend http://).
Select the Science Category that best categorizes your project. Please do not select 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"
- 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.
- List all relevant DOE Office of Science (DOE SC) grant numbers that apply to this project.
- 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"
- 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
- 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.
National Security Questions
Does this project make use of national security information?
Select either "Yes" or "No."
NERSC Principal Investigators are responsible for knowing whether their project generates or uses national security information.
Use of NERSC resources to store, manipulate, or remotely access any national security information is prohibited. This includes, but is not limited to, classified information, unclassified controlled nuclear information (UCNI), naval nuclear propulsion information (NNPI), the design or development of nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons or of any weapons of mass destruction.
For more information contact the Office of Domestic and International Energy Policy, Department of Energy, Washington DC 20585, 202-586-9211.
Does this project collect and store Social Security Numbers, Personally Identifiable Health Information (names or other identifiers matched with health data), Driver's License Numbers, or Financial Account Numbers?
Select either "Yes" or "No."
NERSC does not support projects using Personally Identifiable Information.
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."
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 don't have to answer this question.
Resources Requested Tab
NERSC's computational resources share a common "MPP" (which stands for Massively Paralle Processing) allocation. 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 NERSC resources for new projects
- ALCC Awards: set by NERSC for DOE ALCC awards
- Education: if the project is for classroom teaching
- NISE Awards: set by NERSC for NISE awards
All NERSC projects have accounts on the mass storage system, HPSS. The storage accounting units are SRUs (Storage Resource Units). A SRU Calculator can help you estimate your SRU requirements. See HPSS Charging.
The HPSS repository name is usually the same as the MPP or PDSF repository name. For new projects you may see a number (as part of the validation process this will be corrected to be the same as the MPP or PDSF repo name).
This section is for PDSF users only. The PDSF is a special-use physics system hosted by NERSC.
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):
- Select Yes to the question Do you need a new PDSF repo?
- 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.
- Click the Save button at the bottom of teh page.
You must also answer questions 15.2 - 15.5.
Project Description Tab
Please provide a succinct description of your project that is suitable for the general public. 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 16.2. You may optionally include scaling information for your codes as a PDF attachment in question 16.3.
Public Project Description
NERSC is occasionally asked to describe the science goals and accomplishments it supports to wide ranging non-technical audiences. Please summarize in 1-2 short paragraphs the high level goals behind your research and their impacts on people, the environment, the economy, etc.
Please provide a URL that provides more information about your project.
Please provide a succinct description of your project's accomplishments that is suitable for the general public. This description should emphasize the significance of the work accomplished.
You can include a long technical description of your project's accomplishemnts as a PDF document to upload in question 17.2.
List all refereed publications in the last 12 months based on research using NERSC resources. You may include publications that are accepted, in press, or published in journals but not publications in preparation. Please indicate if your article was highlighted on a journal cover.
Please do not dump information from latex into this area! Ideally you will enter all information as plain text.
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:
- That you still intend to use all of the codes listed.
- Add new codes as needed.
- 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?
- What are the underlying physical models? Explain these briefly. Examples of physical models are electronic structure, fluid flow, MHD, electrostatics, electromagnets, nuclear structure, etc.
- What are the numerical techniques employed? Explain these briefly. Examples of numercal techniques are finite differences, finite elements, DFT, PIC, Monte Carlo, etc.
- What kind of grid/mesh is used? Check as many grid/mesh techniques as apply from the checklist.
- What kind of solver technology is used? Check as many solver techniques as apply from the checklist.
- 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 range of processors or cores? What is the range of processors or cores you plan to use for typical production runs? For PDSF users: how many simultaneous jobs do you plan to run?
- How did you decide on this number? Which of the factors listed influence your choice? Check as many factors as apply from the checklist. You may enter additional factors in the Other box.
- Languages and Parallelization Methods 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.
- Libraries Called: Check as many libraries as apply from the checklist. You may enter additional libraries in the Other box.
- Known code Performance Limitations: Check as many limits to performance as apply from the checklist. You may enter comments about limits to performance in the box (next section). You may enter additional (brief) limits to performance in the Other box. You can use IPM (Integrated Performance Monitoring) to help identify the limits to performance of your codes. If you need additional help, contact a consultant at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Performance Comments: You may comment on the known limits to the code's performance.
- Does the code checkpoint? Select Yes or No.
- Plans for Code Development or Enhancement: Briefly describe your plans.
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 your User List
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, citizenship, and project role for your active users. DOE requires this to be done once a year.
The ERCAP system will not let you submit (finish) 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 email@example.com.
- PI Proxy: Can edit the ERCAP request form and manage users.
- 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 (an exception is if you delete a PI Proxy; in this case the deletion will not take effect until the start of the new fiscal year).
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 Use Policy Form (this is indicated by a value of "OLDFORM" or "NONE" in the column Signed Policies).
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
Finishing your request
When you have completed answering to your satisfaction all the questions on the Request Form click the Other Info / Finish tab and click the Finished box for the Current Request Status question 27.
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.
Printing and saving to disk
To print a request:
- Select My ERCAP Requests from the My Stuff pulldown menu.
- In the resulting ERCAP requests frame click on the view PDF icon for the request you want to print.
- 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 the view PDF icon 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.
Starting with ERCAP requests for allocation year 2010 the ability for uploading PDFs is provided. Long answers can be provided in the PDFs.
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:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.