NERSCPowering Scientific Discovery Since 1974

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. You should be the Principal Investigator of a research project that supports the mission of one of the DOE Office of Science programs. 

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

If you have a research grant and wish to request a computing allocation at NERSC and you do not have an existing NERSC username, please fill out and submit the New NERSC PI Account form in order to get access to the ERCAP allocation request system. The ERCAP allocation request system is used to submit a proposal to the DOE Office of Science for a computing allocation project. It does not provide access to an existing project. 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 the NERSC PI Account 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 ERCAP request.

If you need a NERSC account and wish to join an already approved, active project, please use the Create a NERSC Account request form. 

Existing active NERSC users

If you have an existing, active NERSC username, you may go directly to the ERCAP portal and start your ERCAP request.

Former (inactive) NERSC Users

If you have an existing NERSC username that is no longer active, please send an email to [email protected] and include your NERSC username, and the email and institution associated with your old account. We will work with you to get your account reactivated so you can access the ERCAP system.

Units of Currency for Charges of Computer Time

NERSC uses the Node 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. With the inclusion of the Perlmutter supercomputer, NERSC has transitioned to units that represent a node-hour of computing. The basis for one CPU node hour is time spent running on one Perlmutter CPU-only node for one hour. A GPU Node-hour is defined as occupying a single Perlmutter GPU node (consisting of a single socket of an AMD EPYC 7763 (Milan) processor and four NVIDIA Ampere A100 GPUs: link) for one hour.

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 250 CPU Node hours and 100 GPU Node hours.

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 NERSC or ERCAP access 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.