NERSCPowering Scientific Discovery for 50 Years

Allocations Overview and Eligibility

Allocations Overview

Most allocations of NERSC computer time and archival storage are awarded by the DOE Office of Science and managed by NERSC. There is no cost to the project that receives the award. Awarded projects are given an allocation of computer time and a quota of storage on the NERSC Community File System. Resource usage is charged against the project's allocation, like a withdrawal from a bank account. Once the account is exhausted, users can no longer charge against that account.

NERSC supports several allocation programs:

Allocation Type % of All Computer Time Description
DOE Mission Science 80% Awards are made by DOE program managers to support research within the six Office of Science Program Offices and the Office of Small Business Innovative Research. Most awards are given to research teams funded by the Office of Science, but all proposals performing research of interest to the Office of Science are considered. 


10% ASCR Leadership Computing Challenge: a DOE program run by ASCR to promote innovative research and use of HPC. See the ALCC web page.
NERSC Director's Reserve 10% The NERSC Director has a pool of time that is used at NERSC's discretion to support strategic, innovative, and challenging research. 
Education, Exploratory N/A

NERSC awards small allocations, up to 250 CPU Node Hours, from its Director's Reserve to support research projects who want to explore using HPC as well as educational efforts training the next-generation workforce.

Proposals to use NERSC resources are submitted via the web and the proposals are reviewed and awarded by Office of Science program managers (for DOE Mission Science projects) or NERSC (Director's Reserve, Education, Exploratory).  The process is known as ERCAP (Energy Research Computing Allocations Process).  While the majority of DOE Mission Science awards are made once a year, the ERCAP process is open year-round. In particular, Exploratory and Education (for HPC related classes) allocation requests may be submitted at any time (see the Application Deadlines page for variations to this policy).


DOE Mission Science 

NERSC is the mission High Performance Computing facility for research conducted within the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science.  All interested researchers may apply for time at NERSC, but decisions for DOE Mission Science awards are made by program managers in the relevant Program Office, with priority given to Office of Science funded research. Researchers who are not funded by the Office of Science may apply, but they must demonstrate that their research is of interest to an Office of Science program.


The ALCC proposal and award process is completely separate from ERCAP. See the ALCC web site for details.

Director’s Discretionary Reserve (DDR)

Awards of time from the DDR are not generally open to the public. DDR allocations are usually tied to strategic initiatives (e.g. the NERSC High Impact Science at Scale program from 2018-19) and collaborations. Proposals are accepted through ERCAP, but prior arrangements with NERSC are required.

Education and Exploratory

Research projects that are new to NERSC and/or HPC may apply for small, up to 250 CPU Node Hours Exploratory awards. While NERSC makes the awards internally, we consult with DOE Program Managers to help assess the eventual likelihood of receiving a Mission Science award. NERSC users who are conducting classes in HPC may apply for Education awards. Both types of proposals are submitted through the ERCAP process.