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A new generation of NCAR supercomputing resources began in the fall of 2012 at the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC). Along with the significantly expanded capability and capacity of this resource environment, NCAR adopted a revised set of policies and procedures for allocating use of these resources. Click for a video overview.
The objectives of the revised procedures are to create a more strategic and transparent allocation process, to ensure equitable access among NCAR groups and the university community, to satisfy the oversight needs of NSF, and—perhaps most important—to provide NCAR with the flexibility to support emerging, strategic projects that require computational resources. At the same time, the processes are designed to balance the time required to prepare and review requests and the amount of resources being provided.
NCAR’s portion of the Community Computing pool amounts to ~29% of the new resources. For the Yellowstone system alone, this represents an estimated 170 million core-hours per year (compared to fewer than 9 million core-hours per year on Bluefire). Similar portions of the data analysis and visualization resources and GLADE storage system also are available to NCAR users.
Three categories of Yellowstone allocations are available to NCAR users:
Joint NCAR/university allocations have been discontinued, although projects with NCAR visitors or university-based collaborators are eligible to use or make requests for all three categories of NCAR allocations. See NCAR and university use below.
NCAR researchers can also request allocations for use of the Janus system.
Core-hours for this category of projects expanded by more than 80 times with the introduction of the Yellowstone system. These priority projects receive 17% of available core-hours after review of scientific merit, strategic importance, technical readiness, and broader impact.
For details, see the NSC Projects page.
The NCAR Director’s Reserve comprises 2% of the available NCAR resources. Access is disbursed at the discretion of the NCAR director and is designed to accommodate work that does not fit within any other allocation mechanism (whether CSL, university, or NCAR).
Director’s Reserve requests must meet the following two criteria:
Reserve requests also should also meet at least some of the following six criteria:
Projects that may be suitable for an NSC allocation but that cannot wait until the next NSC round can request a startup allocation from the Director’s Reserve; such requests still must explain why they satisfy the criteria for a Director’s Reserve allocation.
To request a Director’s Reserve allocation, the NCAR Lab Grant administrator should submit a brief write-up (approximately one page) from the prospective project lead that describes the project to be conducted and its computing requirements. The NCAR Lab Grant administrator should include a statement describing why the work should be considered for a Director’s Reserve allocation. The request should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Director’s Reserve requests are reviewed as they are submitted, and decisions generally are made within a few days.
Director’s Reserve allocations come with commensurate reporting requirements that vary depending on the size of the request and award. At the end of each project, the project lead will document the work conducted, resulting outcomes, and contributions toward the strategic priority.
NCAR labs initially received 10% of the Yellowstone system's available core-hours. The allocations are assumed to remain at the same levels while the system is in production. However, a member of the NCAR Executive Committee (EC) can request that the lab allocations be reviewed and potentially revised or adjusted due to changes in lab needs or priorities. The EC member should initiate this process at an EC meeting, which will determine the timeline and process for considering the request.
Within the lab-level “blocks,” the labs allocate resources according to their strategic priorities. They are expected to accommodate small- to medium-sized activities within these locally managed allocations, including joint work with collaborators, regularly scheduled workshops and training activities, preparatory work for larger-scale projects, and work by visiting, postdoctoral, or graduate student researchers. (NCAR short-term visitors also may apply for university allocations if they meet all necessary eligibility requirements.)
The only annual reporting requirements for lab allocations are acknowledgement of CISL resources in relevant publications and in the lab’s annual report, and citations for those publications to be sent to CISL.
In addition to 10% of the Yellowstone HPC resource (an estimated 59 million core-hours), the NCAR labs received allocations of a similar fraction of analysis and visualization resource use and GLADE project space. HPSS requests and allocations are constrained by the growth supported by CISL budget for HPSS media and system expansion. Within these constraints, NCAR labs and staff will have to make trade-offs and data management decisions, especially when considering storage of data that are generated on resources outside of CISL.
The NWSC resources are shared among several allocation “facilities,” including the NCAR Community and University Community in addition to the Climate Simulation Laboratory and the Wyoming Community. As in the past, the NCAR and University communities each get an equal portion of the resources, and NCAR and CISL are responsible for maintaining that balance.
To support this NCAR/University balance, we offer the following guidelines for appropriate use of the NCAR and university resource pools.
NCAR policies and guidelines for co-sponsorship are not affected by these revised allocation policies. Co-sponsorship remains a transaction between a lab and the proposer, and the process is monitored by UCAR Budget and Planning and PACUR. The UCAR B&P office has approved rates for use in the proposal process.