NERSCPowering Scientific Discovery Since 1974

Apply for Your First NERSC Allocation

Initial Steps Needed to Apply for Your First NERSC Allocation

All work done at NERSC must be within the DOE Office of Science mission.  See the Mission descriptins for each office at Allocations Overview and Eligibility.

Prospective Principal Investigators without a NERSC login need to fill out two forms:

  1. The online ERCAP Access Request Form. If you wish to designate another person to fill out the request form you may designate a "PI Proxy" on this form.
  2. Complete and submit the online Computer User Agreement form.

Once we receive your agreement form and activate your account, you will receive an email with a link that will allow you to set your initial password. That link will expire if not used within 72 hours. If the link has expired, you will need to call NERSC Account Support at 1-800-666-3772 menu 2, or 510-486-8612, to obtain a temporary password. You can call at any time, 24 x 7, and somebody will be here to assist you.

Startup Allocations

Many new NERSC projects begin with a Startup allocation, particularly if they are new to HPC or are not yet ready to run production codes on thousands of CPU cores. Startup awards are limited to 50,000 MPP hours (Cray Hopper equivalent hours) and are good for up to 18 months.

A request for a Startup project can be made at any time during the year; decisions for Startup requests are made by NERSC within one to three weeks after applying. All questions on the application form must be answered (for the Other Info section only if the questions apply to your situation), but startup requests require only brief answers to the Code Description and Data questions.

Startup awards are valid for up to 18 months (although they need to be renewed for a new allocation year), after which time the PI must obtain a "DOE production" award. This is accomplished by approval of the appropriate DOE allocation manager during the allocation year or by renewing the startup project as a production project for the next allocation year. Production projects are expected to have codes that can effectively use hundreds to thousands of processors.

Submitting the Allocation Request Form

Requests to use NERSC resources are submitted via a web form. The process is known as ERCAP (Energy Research Computing Allocations Process). The ERCAP form is accessed through the NERSC Information Management (NIM) web interface.

  1. Once you have received your NERSC login name and password, point your browser to  nim.nersc.gov, and login to NIM.
  2. From the Actions pull-down menu select ERCAP requests.
  3. In the page that appears, you should see a list of any previous ERCAP requests you have been a part of and a link to Start a new request at the bottom center. Note: 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".
  4. During times when you can submit a new request either for the current year or for the next year (typically between August and December) you will be prompted for the request year.  You should usually select the current year, unless there are reasons to have your award start at the beginning of the following year. Then click the Start new ERCAP request button.

    The ERCAP application form will load in a new page. The questions on the application form are divided into several pages. Each page is grouped under a tab. You start in the first page, Project Overview. If you are applying for a Startup Account, select the Project Class of Startup from the pull-down menu on question 6.

    After pressing the "Save" button, you will see the rest of the tabs.  You can click on any  tab in any order, but you must click a tab's Save button to save edits you have made to that section before switching between tabs.

  5. If you are applying for a Startup Account:
    • Select the Allocation Type of Startup from the pull-down menu on the Resources Requested page.
    • Answer the questions to the best of your ability; detailed code descriptions and performance information are not required for startup requests.
    • Startup requests may be made at any time. Decisions for Startup requests are made within one to three weeks after applying.
  6. To continue working on a proposal you have previously saved click on its Edit link.
  7. When you have finished writing your request, be sure to select "Finished" for question 28 on the Submit page (for 2013 requests this is question 27 on the Other Info/Submit page).