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 descriptions for each office at Allocations Overview and Eligibility.

Prospective Principal Investigators without a NERSC login need to fill out this online form:

  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.

Once we have created an account for you in the ERCAP system, we will send you an email with instructions on how to reset your temporary password and log into

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 a few 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 Helpdesk System and is available year round.

  1. Once you have received your NERSC login name and password (for brand-new users, this will be your email address plus a password), point your browser to, and log in.
  2. Go to the "How can we help?" menu and select Request a NERSC Allocation.
  3. Click on the radio button next to "New" and then select "Current" or "Next year". 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 Submit button.
  4. The ERCAP application form will load in the current page. The questions on the application form are loaded as a single page. You can save your edits to the form and come back to finish it later. To continue working on a proposal you have previously started, you will find it under the list of "New In-Progress" drafts. (Please do not start a new request.)
  5. If you are applying for a Startup Account:
    • Select the Allocation Type of Startup from the pull-down menu on the Resources Requested section.
    • 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 a few weeks after applying.
    • When you have finished writing your request, be sure to select "Finished" and click on the Submit button..