Broadening Participation Allocations

For full consideration, please follow the guidelines below and provide all of the requested information within a single PDF file. Please allow 4-6 weeks from the date of closing for award notification of submitted proposals. Link for proposal submissions:

Submit a Proposal

Proposal Due Date


Requests for allocations are to be submitted by Thursday, March 15, 2018

Overview


Blue Waters is one of the world's most powerful computing systems. Each year that Blue Waters is in operation, up to 8 million node-hours could be allocated to projects for innovation and exploration of new uses for high performance computation and data analysis. As each node has many powerful cores, this is significantly more computing power than most systems available, and this resource provides a unique opportunity to perform groundbreaking work in computational science.

This new allocations category is open to Principal Investigators (PIs) who are faculty or research staff at US academic institutions who have not previously been a PI on a research allocation on the Blue Waters system and who are in one or more of the following categories:

  • Institutions categorized as Minority Serving Institutions
  • Institutions within EPSCoR jurisdictions
  • PIs who are Women, underrepresented minorities, veterans, or people with disabilities
  • Researchers and scholars in humanities, arts, or social sciences

Requests for Broadening Participation allocations may be for up to 200,000 node-hours (approximately 6.4 million core hours) for at most one year. Projects will be judged on the basis of their scientific merit, suitability for Blue Waters, and demonstrated need for the unique capabilities of Blue Waters. Requests are to be submitted by March 15, 2018. Award notifications will be announced early April, 2018.

Uniqueness of Blue Waters

Blue Waters is a uniquely powerful resource for computational science. Blue Waters is a Cray system with a combination of XE6 nodes (two AMD Interlagos CPU modules – four processor chips) and XK7 nodes (one AMD Interlagos CPU module and one NVIDIA Kepler K20X GPU), connected with Cray's Gemini interconnect, a high performance network. A high-performance, high-capacity file system is also part of the system as well as large nearline storage system. A summary of the key capabilities is listed below:

  • Over 1.3 PetaFLOPS (1015 floating-point operations per second) sustained performance (13.34 PetaFLOPS peak performance)
  • 1.66 PetaBytes(PB) memory, 25 PB Disk, 300 PB tape
  • 4,228 XK7 GPU nodes with NVIDIA K20x GPUs
  • 22,640 XE6 nodes with over 360,000 core modules of 720,000 integer cores
  • Over 4 PetaFLOPS peak GPU performance (typically ¼ PetaFLOPS sustained)
  • Over 1 TeraBytes/sec (1012 bytes/second) sustained disk bandwidth

Additional details of the system design may be obtained from: https://bluewaters.ncsa.illinois.edu/hardware-summary

The Blue Waters allocations are intended for problems that need the unique capabilities of Blue Waters at large scale, which need not be just floating‐point speed; it could be total memory, data size or data bandwidth, or even computational scale. Project proposals are expected to demonstrate that no other resource would be suitable for a given problem, as Blue Waters is not merely a large source of compute cycles. For a partial list of alternative resources of compute cycles see Alternate Sources of Compute Cycles.

Requests for Time on Blue Waters


For full consideration, please follow the guidelines below and provide all of the requested information by uploading a single document within EasyChair. Requests for resources should meet the goals of the Blue Waters Allocation Policy:

  • faculty and/or research staff whose parallel computing and/or data intensive research programs would be greatly enhanced by access to Blue Waters and
  • parallel computing and/or data intensive research proposals in which a commitment of Blue Waters resources will significantly increase the competitiveness of the proposals.

Broadening Participation allocations will be awarded by April of 2018. All projects must start by June 1, 2018 and must be completed no later than March 31, 2019. There will be no extensions. Applications for educational allocations are accepted on an ongoing basis—for more details visit: https://bluewaters.ncsa.illinois.edu/education-allocations. Inquiries regarding these allocations may be made to help+bw@ncsa.illinois.edu.

Eligibility


This allocation category is open to PIs who are faculty and research staff at US academic institutions who have not previously been a PI on a research allocation on the Blue Waters system and who are in one or more of the following categories:

  • Institutions categorized as Minority Serving Institutions
  • Institutions within EPSCoR jurisdictions
  • PIs who are Women, underrepresented minorities, veterans, or people with disabilities
  • Researchers and scholars in humanities, arts, or social sciences.

Postdoctoral fellows or postdoctoral research associates are eligible to apply as Principal Investigators. Graduate or undergraduate students are not eligible to apply as Principal Investigators due to administrative requirements regarding appointment status, but are encouraged to apply if their faculty or staff advisor will agree to be Principal Investigator on the proposal. Proposals may include co-PIs and collaborators from other institutions.

Access to the Blue Waters system will be governed by the Blue Waters Terms of Use: https://bluewaters.ncsa.illinois.edu/terms-of-use.

System REsources


A typical proposal will be for up to 200,000 node hours (approximately 6.4 million core hours) and will be 5-8 pages in length. 

Proposal Guidelines


For full consideration, please follow the guidelines below and provide all of the requested information within a single file uploaded to EasyChair. A project proposal should contain the following:

Explanations and guidelines are described in detail below.

Principal Investigator

The Principal Investigator (PI) must be a faculty or research staff member (including postdocs) at a US academic institution. Multiple co-PIs may be listed and they may be students, postdocs, or faculty/staff members from the same or other institutions. Young investigators are encouraged to apply. Only one Principal Investigator should be listed for each proposal. The proposal should include the PI and co-PIs names, title, department, university, and contact information. Please provide full names, titles, email address, phone number, and US mailing address information for the PI and any co-PIs. Cell phone numbers are appreciated for sending account information securely.

Demographics of Participants

We request demographic information about all participants to ensure that the allocation request complies with the eligibility requirements described above, and to be able to report on the demographics of the Blue Waters community of users to NSF. Demographics information will only be accessible to the Blue Waters Project Office and NSF.

Please provide the following information.

  • Gender (e.g. female, male, other)
  • Race (e.g. American Indian, Alaska Native, Asian, Hispanic or Latino, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, caucasian, mixed race, other)
  • Disability information
  • Veteran information
Project Abstract

A one-paragraph (about 150 words) project summary including why Blue Waters is necessary for this activity. This summary may be shared with the community on the Blue Waters website.

Field of Science

Clearly indicate the project's field of science. A list of possible categories can be found at: https://bluewaters.ncsa.illinois.edu/foslist. There is an article on the benefits of humanities, arts and social science scholars using HPC to advance their research at: https://techservices.illinois.edu/news/2015/supercomputing-humanities-arts-and-social-sciences.

Project Overview

Include a one-page overview of the project that describes the science/engineering problem to be solved and the parallel computational and/or data science approach, including challenges. Also describe the possible scientific impact to the specific field of science or to the greater scientific community. This overview may be shared with the community on the Blue Waters website. If you do not wish for this to be publicly shared, please indicate in the header "Not for Public Use."

Target Problem

A description of the specific parallel computation research question(s) that the resources requested will be used to answer and the scientific and societal impact of the proposed work. Include an explanation of why a petascale resource of the leading-edge capability that Blue Waters represents is necessary to address this research.

Description of Code(s)

Describe the structure of the application codes that you intend to use. Include descriptions of any novel computational or data driven approaches. Please include details about the algorithms involved and the approach that you intend to use to ensure that the code scales effectively on the Blue Waters architecture. Describe how your code(s) will use each of the major system elements: the memory hierarchy, the communications network, the computational elements, GPU nodes, and the I/O subsystem. Identify which system element(s) is/are likely to be the main bottlenecks and how the design of your application minimizes the impact of these bottlenecks. Describe how you intend to analyze the output resulting from your use of Blue Waters. IMPORTANT: Please describe any run-time libraries or special system software or program development environment features that you will require and the types of graphics support that you would find most useful.

Experience, Readiness, Usage Plans and Funding Source(s)

Briefly describe your experience with using other HPC systems. Include the current state of readiness of the parallel application codes that you intend to use and your plans for developing these to the point where they are ready to run in production mode on the Blue Waters system. Evidence of suitability for running on Blue Waters may include data on the efficiency of the node code and analysis and/or demonstration of scalability. Projects requiring smaller computational scales, or which are not yet ready for Blue Waters should consider applying for one of the XSEDE startup accounts or other resources listed in the Alternate Sources of Compute Cycles.

Provide an estimated Blue Waters usage schedule. The estimate should be per quarter and may be represented as a percent of the requested allocation (e.g. Q1: 10%, Q2: 20%, Q3: 50%, Q4: 20%). There will be no extensions. The Blue Waters Project Office will track usage relative to the proposed schedule.

The Blue Waters project is tasked with efficient utilization of the Blue Waters system and accordingly reserves the right to age out and scale back allocations if their utilization rate is very low. However, the project understands that research time availability varies across the academic calendar and will consult with the PI before taking such steps.

Resources Required

Describe the Blue Waters resources required to complete the parallel computational research on the Target Problem. This description should include the number of system nodes needed for your runs, the anticipated actual memory usage, the expected numbers of each major class of arithmetic and logical operation, the expected numbers of local and remote memory accesses, the total number of node-hours required, the anticipated input and output requirements, the amount of data that you anticipate transferring to or from the Blue Waters enclave, the amount and type of storage required and any other system resource needs that you anticipate. For assistance in computing node hours for Blue Waters see: https://bluewaters.ncsa.illinois.edu/node_core_comparison For a description of the default storage quotas see: https://bluewaters.ncsa.illinois.edu/storage If your project will require storage limits that exceed the standard quotas, provide a justification in support of your request.

Requested Start Date and Duration

The default project duration is 12 months. If you believe your project can be completed in less time, please indicate as such (e.g. 6 months). All projects must start by June 1, 2018 and end no later than March 31, 2019.

References

Include references related to the work at the end of the proposal as part of the main document.

Related Information

Review Criteria

Projects will be judged on their scientific merit, their suitability for Blue Waters, and their demonstrated need for the unique capabilities of Blue Waters.

NCSA Staff Assistance

Blue Waters information is available to guide potential proposals. Much system and programming environment information is available at the Blue Waters website, training material from past workshops, as well as complete documentation about using Blue Waters is available at the Blue Waters website. See Training: https://bluewaters.ncsa.illinois.edu/training or Documentation: https://bluewaters.ncsa.illinois.edu/documentation. Blue Waters support staff are available during the workday to provide limited assistance for proposal writers such as answering specific questions, discussing algorithms and method approaches, scoping problems, providing general performance metrics, etc. Contacting the Blue Waters Support by submitting a service request via email to help+bw@ncsa.illinois.edu or calling 217-244-6689 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. (Central time) Monday through Friday.

Reporting Requirements

Reports are required for all awards under this program. The report should include accomplishments achieved with the research conducted on Blue Waters—including publications, grants submitted, grants obtained, and talks presented, as well as details of any issues or problems encountered with the use of Blue Waters. Instructions for the final report are available at: https://bluewaters.ncsa.illinois.edu/reports.

PIs will be responsible for submitting a final report and a status update mid-allocation. Projects are encouraged to contact Blue Waters support about issues or problems as they occur rather than using these reports to bring issues to the attention of the Blue Waters project.

Acknowledging Blue Waters support

The text found on Acknowledging Support from Blue Waters or something similar must be included in publications of all kinds that report on work performed using an allocation on Blue Waters made under this program.

Alternate Sources of Compute Cycles

There are a number of sources of compute cycles available to researchers. These include both national and campus resources, and should be considered for projects that do not require the full power of Blue Waters. A partial list follows:

  • NSF provides access to a number of high-end systems through the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) project, including both startup and large-scale allocations. For more information, see xsede.org
  • DOE offers time on high‐end systems operated by the Office of Science through the INCITE program: http://www.doeleadershipcomputing.org/
  • NSF's PRAC program provides access to Blue Waters (NSF controls roughly 80% of the available time on Blue Waters). Information on this annual program is available at: http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=503224
Questions?

Contact the Blue Waters Project Office at help+bw@ncsa.illinois.edu.