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Rapid allocation of time on Blue Waters for the Great Lakes Consortium for Petascale Computation

2018 Call for Proposals submissions are due November 30, 2018!

Dear Blue Waters Community,

The NSF has approved an extension for the Blue Waters to continue operating until December 19, 2019. This extension provides additional nine months of operation and the NCSA Blue Waters team has allocated to the Great Lakes Consortium for Petascale Computation (GLCPC) an additional 2.7 million node hours—equivalent to approximately 86 million core hours as part of the Blue Waters project. This allocation provides the GLCPC member institutions with an opportunity to advance their programs in computation, data, and visualization intensive research and education. This Call For Proposals (CFP) describes the process for submitting a proposal to the GLCPC Allocations Committee for allocations on the Blue Waters system. Details on the Blue Waters system can be found at

We are seeking proposals that focus on the systems scale and unique capabilities. Thus, projects that could be completed on one of the other NSF sponsored systems as part of the current XSEDE program are not encouraged for GLCPC Blue Waters allocations.

The GLCPC is seeking innovative proposals that fall into four categories:

  1. Scaling studies: The scaling of codes which will operate efficiently on large numbers of parallel processors presents a number of challenges. Therefore, projects of particular interest include those that optimize and/or scale community codes to very large scales. Examples include scaling of multilevel parallel applications (MPI+OpenMP), accelerators (CUDA, OpenACC or OpenCL), I/O and data-intensive applications, or novel communication topologies.
  2. Multi-GLCPC-institutional projects addressing focused scientific projects. An example might be a Great Lakes Ecosystems Modeling initiative (Digital Great Lakes).
  3. Proposals for applications well-suited for the Blue Waters system architecture.
  4. Proposals from non-traditional and underserved communities.

The GLCPC Allocations Committee anticipates 3-8 projects/allocations; consequently, the smallest project is expected to be approximately 320,000 node hours (~5 million core hours), which is roughly the same as dedicated use of a 4-core, 1,280-node cluster. We note that applications at this scale will require development efforts as well as different phases, such as: tuning and development; some smaller runs; large "production runs"; and then post processing; but, all will be at scales beyond other available large resources. GLCPC allocation proposals will be accepted through midnight EST November 30, 2018. The proposal review process is expected to be complete by December 15, 2018. Allocations awarded through GLCPC will be available for use beginning December 2018 and will expire on December 19, 2019. Users will have to transfer their data from Blue Waters back to their campuses by December 19, 2019. A data management plan describing data transfer off of Blue Waters is required.

To make your allocation request, please submit a written proposal, not to exceed three pages (in PDF format) to

Eligibility: Only Principal Investigators affiliated with an institutional member of the Great Lakes Consortium for Petascale Computation are eligible to submit a GLCPC allocations proposal. Access to the Blue Waters system will be governed by the Blue Waters Terms of Use. Questions about this CFP should be addressed to

Reporting requirements: GLCPC Blue Waters allocations awardees will be responsible for reporting on their progress in utilizing their allocations and describing the impact that access to the Blue Waters system has made on their research. An interim report—six months into allocation period—and a final report will be required.

Renewal requests: Previous awardees of GLCPC allocations on the Blue Waters system are eligible to make renewal requests but must clearly demonstrate significant progress in using the previous year's allocation and clearly describe the new research that will be made possible by an additional Blue Waters allocation.

Proposal content (not to exceed three pages)

  • Target problem: A description of the specific 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.
  • Team members: Name, title, affiliation and contact information for each member of requesting project team.
  • Description of codes: Describe the structure of the application codes that you intend to use. These may either currently exist, but might require enhancement, or they may be in development. 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. Please include descriptions of how your code(s) will use each of the major system elements: the memory hierarchy, the communications network, the computational elements, and the I/O subsystem. 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.
  • Porting, testing and scalability plans: Describe the current state of readiness of the 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. Estimate the type of consulting help that you will need to port and scale your application(s) to the Blue Waters system.
  • Resources required: Describe the Blue Waters resources required to complete 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.
  • Support plan: Allocations will be made with the understanding that the support model is explicitly targeted for experienced, advanced users. NCSA does not have the staff to provide a broad range of support or introductory services. Proposals must describe the institutional structure that will be used to support the proposed work. Institutional support staff will be responsible for triage of user problems and basic user support. Blue Waters experts will help train the support staff at the proposing institutions, and will also help triage problems.
  • Source(s) of funding: Please identify the source(s), amount(s) and duration of existing funding that is supporting the development of your petascale application. If not currently funded, please describe how you intend to support any required development work.
  • 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%). It would be best to plan to use most of the time by the end of Q3 and not plan to use time in the final quarter, Q4 since a number of NSF allocations will be trying to complete their usage.
  • Prior allocation utilization: If the PI or Co-PIs have received prior GLCPC allocations on Blue Waters please describe your utilization of the prior award, published results, presentations given, education and public outreach, and any grants that were obtained as a result of the Blue Waters work. As there is a premium on Blue Waters utilization, if the PI or Co-PIs have had prior allocations where less than 75% of the allocation was used in the original allocation period, please provide a detailed summary of why the allocation was under-utilized and why this allocation if award will be fully used.

Additional required documents (not included in three-page proposal limit)

  • Proposal abstract for public posting
  • NSF-formatted, two-page bios of project team PI and co-PIs
  • References cited
  • NEW! Data Management Plan describing plans for data management, including schedule of moving the data out of Blue Waters systems prior to the Blue Waters end of service on December 19, 2019. Please include the anticipated destinations for the data.