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Apply for Your First NERSC Allocation

Initial Steps Needed to Apply for Your First NERSC Allocation

Make sure you read and understood the information on the Overview and Eligibility page.

If you do not already have an active NERSC user (login) account

Fill out and submit the New NERSC PI Account form. If you wish to designate another person to help you fill out the ERCAP request form you may designate an "Authorized Preparer". If this person already has a NERSC account, you can add them directly after you have started the ERCAP request. If they do not already have a NERSC account, have them fill out this form and include in the Comments section that they are to be an Authorized Preparer for you and to include your full name and email address. Once we have created an account for you in the ERCAP portal, we will send you an email with instructions on how to access the site, from which you can start a new request.

Existing active NERSC users

Start a new request at the ERCAP portal.

Former (inactive) NERSC Users

Send an email to [email protected] and include your NERSC user name, and the email, institution, and Principal Investigator associated with your old account.

Units of Currency for Charges of Computer Time

NERSC uses the NERSC Hour for make allocations and track charges. Each type of node is given a "charge factor" to normalize performance across node types, so computing allocations can be interchangeably used across architectures. The current values have a historical origin based on the performance of a single core on the AMD Magny-Cours based Hopper supercomputer, which was retired in 2015.

Beginning with the Perlmutter supercomputer, set to arrive in late 2020, NERSC will likely transition to units that represent a node-hour of computing.

Exploratory Allocations

Many new NERSC projects begin with an Exploratory allocation, particularly if they are new to HPC or are not yet ready to run production codes on thousands of CPU cores. Exploratory awards are limited to 100,000 NERSC hours and are good for up to 18 months.

A request for an Exploratory project can be made at any time during the year; decisions for Exploratory requests still need to be approved by the DOE Office of Science and need to support the mission of one of their programs. All questions on the application form must be answered.

Exploratory 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 Mission Science" award. This is accomplished by approval of the appropriate DOE allocation manager during the allocation year or by renewing the Exploratory project as a DOE Mission Science project for the next allocation year. Production projects are expected to have codes that can effectively use hundreds to thousands of processors.

Submitting the ERCAP Allocation Request Form

Once your account is enabled, go to and start a new request, fill out the form, and submit the request for review. If, when you log in, the "ERCAP Requests" menu on the left is not expanded, click on it to reveal "Create a New Request" and proceed from there.