Allocations, Allocation Classes, Review Cycles

NeSI can help take your research further.

Funded to support and enhance research that depends on computation, New Zealand eScience Infrastructure (NeSI) hosts specialised high performance computing (HPC) facilities and provides access to state-of-the-art equipment to fit your needs. NeSI employs expert staff to support your projects, and works closely with you to help realise your research goals.

 

What is available?

To gain access to NeSI’s HPC facilities, researchers can apply for an allocation of CPU core hours. Proposals are reviewed by a Technical Qualification Panel. Following the review process, allocations and access to the systems are granted.

To ensure that NeSI can meet allocations promised and maintain service levels for all researchers, allocations are aged. This approach to capacity management on the HPC platforms ensures the most demanding research and industry requirements can be met by having the ability to schedule resources allocated to projects in Merit and Institution classes.

The table below provides a high-level overview of our different classes of allocations. For more detailed information, please refer to the information sections below the table.

 

Proposal Development

Postgraduate

Merit

Private Industry1 

Institution3

Scale
(up to CPU core hours)

see below

1,000,000

1,000,000

500,000

At institutional discretion

Review Cycle
(by Technical Qualification Panel)

Weekly

Quarterly.

Quarterly.

On demand

On demand

Proposal Deadline

On demand

Quarterly.

Quarterly. 

On demand

On demand

Allocation Duration2

Three months

One year

One year

Up to one year

Up to one year

Notes:

  1. Private Industry: If a company is funding the research through a publicly funded research grant, your research programme may be eligible for Research (Merit) allocations. If you are applying for access funded independently or the review and allocation schedules do not suit your research, you will need to purchase a Private Industry allocation. Private Industry allocations are only for research and development, not production or service delivery purposes.
  2. Allocation Expiry: refers to a timeframe after which the allocation expires. The effect of expiry is a reduction in the priority assigned to any jobs subsequently submitted that are associated with an expired allocation.
  3. Collaborator: The investing institutions receive capacity on their facilities proportional to their investment and for allocation at their discretion. The investing institutions are currently the Universities of Auckland and Otago, NIWA, and Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research.

Allocation Classes

Depending on the purpose and scale of your need, allocations fit within the following classes:

Proposal Development

Most new projects start off with a Proposal Development allocation. A Proposal Development allocation is a small allocation of core hours, the purpose of which is to test the suitability of a NeSI cluster for the proposed work and find out the rate of core hour usage the project is likely to need on an ongoing basis. 

At this stage, we also require applications to undergo a technical assessment. This assessment is not concerned with the quality or scientific merit of the proposed work, but is intended to ascertain whether NeSI can offer the right kind of computing equipment (hardware and software) and associated services to properly support the project. To facilitate the technical assessment process, the applicant should be able to answer questions about the research programme’s computing requirements.

Proposal Development allocations represent a preparatory phase for a longer term project providing a short, small allocation which you can use to show whether your work can run on a NeSI HPC facility and predict your likely HPC resource needs during a further allocation. Proposal Development allocations are reviewed continually throughout the year, and are recommended for all researchers new to NeSI facilities. Proposal Development allocations are available to researchers at New Zealand public sector research institutions and members of private industry involved in publicly funded research and development.

An applicant must successfully complete a Proposal Development allocation or be able to demonstrate explicit prior relevant experience and success in running their codes on HPC facilities before receiving a Research (Merit or Postgraduate) or Private Industry allocation. An applicant may submit a Research or Private Industry allocation request at any time including during an active related Proposal Development allocation, but the related Proposal Development allocation must have completed prior to the technical review of the Research or Private Industry proposal.

Please be aware that we will only grant consecutive Proposal Development allocations in exceptional circumstances, such as technical failures making testing impractical. If you expect the start of your HPC testing phase to be delayed, you should let us know as soon as possible so that we can look into suspending your Proposal Development allocation.

Appropriate uses for Proposal Development allocations may include:

  • Proof of application scaling prior to receiving a Research or Industry allocation
  • Application code development and/or testing
  • Experimentation across HPC facilities to assess best fit for purpose

Conditions:

  • On any NeSI resource, only one Proposal Development allocation may be active per research programme at any given time.
  • We may publish the title and description of your research programme, along with information about research outcomes you have attained using NeSI, on the NeSI website and in other places for our business purposes. If due to privacy or commercial confidentiality requirements publication would present a problem for you, please make this fact known to NeSI staff during the application process.

Research and Postgraduate

Research allocations

Also known as a Merit allocation, a Research allocation is awarded to a project that meets the qualifying criteria and has completed an earlier allocation (usually Proposal Development or institution-funded) on a NeSI HPC facility to do the same or very similar research. NeSI staff may at our discretion accept evidence of successful similar work on other HPC facilities.

Your research programme may be eligible for a Research allocation if it is funded by a peer-reviewed, contestable grant at an institutional, regional or national level. Overseas funding, even if peer-reviewed and contestable, does not make a research programme eligible for Research allocations as such funding does not prove that the research programme is aligned with New Zealand government research priorities. You will be asked to tell us how your programme is funded during the application process, and we may verify that information to confirm your eligibility for Research allocations. Please note that if your research programme is hosted by a NeSI investor institution or an institution with a NeSI subscription, we may award your allocation from out of your institution’s entitlement even if your research programme is eligible for a Research allocation.

If you already have a successful peer reviewed research grant, you will be invited to tell us about that grant when you apply. We will use the information you give us to decide which allocation class or classes your research programme is eligible for.

Conditions:

  • The research programme must be funded by a peer-reviewed, contestable grant at an institutional, regional or national level
  • A request for more allocated time will not be considered until the project team has completed  a successful Proposal Development allocation, unlessNeSI chooses to accept prior relevant experience and success in running their codes on HPC facilities, to prove the necessary workflows can scale to the level required by the Research proposal.
  • If you want a further allocation after your current allocation expires, you must request one from us. We may verify your continued eligibility and may also ask you to tell us what research outcomes your access to NeSI has helped you to attain.
  • We may publish the title and description of your research programme, along with information about research outcomes you have attained using NeSI, on the NeSI website and in other places for our business purposes. If due to privacy or commercial confidentiality requirements publication would present a problem for you, please make this fact known to NeSI staff during the application process.

Postgraduate allocations

Postgraduate allocations enable current New Zealand postgraduate students to easily conduct their research on NeSI’s HPC facilities. A research programme need not be funded by a contestable, peer-reviewed grant in order to be considered for a Postgraduate allocation.. As with Research allocations, Postgraduate allocations should follow a Proposal Development project. Please note that if your research programme is hosted by a NeSI investor institution or an institution with a NeSI subscription, we may award your allocation from out of your institution’s entitlement even if your research programme is eligible for a Postgraduate allocation.

Conditions:

  • The application must be made by, or on behalf of, a student who is enrolled in a research degree granting programme (e.g. PhD or Masters by research) at a New Zealand university.
  • The research programme to be carried out must be a key component of the student’s work towards his or her research degree.
  • The student’s supervisor must support the application and attest that the application satisfies the previous two criteria.
  • The work to be carried out must be able to be run on a NeSI facility. This is normally demonstrated by successful runs of that kind of work during a proposal development or institutional allocation. We may at our discretion accept evidence that the proposed work (or substantially similar work) has run on a NeSI or other HPC facility.
  • If you want a further allocation after your current allocation expires, you must request one from us. We may verify your continued eligibility and may also ask you to tell us what research outcomes your access to NeSI has helped you to attain.
  • We may publish the title and description of your research programme, along with information about research outcomes you have attained using NeSI, on the NeSI website and in other places for our business purposes. If due to privacy or commercial confidentiality requirements publication would present a problem for you, please make this fact known to NeSI staff during the application process.

Private Industry

Private Industry allocations are available to support contract research between public sector research institutions and private industry partners, and for research and development occurring independently within private industry, on a full cost recovery basis. Every applicant must successfully complete a Proposal Development allocation prior to receiving a Private Industry allocation or be able to demonstrate explicit prior relevant experience and success in running their codes on HPC facilities.

Private industry can benefit from NeSI's high-tech innovations and problem-solving expertise in high-performance computing, data management and analysis, visualization, and advanced IT. New Zealand’s computational research capabilities merge theoretical and applied research to solve difficult problems. Where appropriate we aim to foster productive relationships between industry and researchers. Ultimately, researchers help solve some of industry's formerly intractable business problems by using their core competencies in:

  • algorithm and code optimization aimed at large-scale computation
  • virtual prototyping and computational simulation
  • application development for scaling software
  • visualization modeling and image pattern recognition
  • data management, data mining, data analytics, and data provenance

Companies can engage with NeSI through contracts with New Zealand researchers for directed research agreements with identifiable deliverables along with resource-use agreements for access to high-performance computing facilities.

We recommend using the time provided by an initial Proposal Development allocation to negotiate an appropriate contract with the NeSI host as well as to test whether NeSI’s HPC facilities can support your workflow.

Conditions:

  • A suitable contract must be in place between the NeSI Host and the legal entity (individual or corporation) who is purchasing the HPC resources.
  • We may publish the title and description of your research programme, along with information about research outcomes you have attained using NeSI, on the NeSI website and in other places for our business purposes. If due to privacy or commercial confidentiality requirements publication would present a problem for you, please make this fact known to NeSI staff during the application process.
  • The work to be carried out must be able to be run on a NeSI facility. This is normally demonstrated by successful runs of that kind of work during a proposal development or other similar allocation. We may at our discretion accept evidence that the proposed work (or substantially similar work) has run on a NeSI or other HPC facility.

If you are from industry and are interested in accessing NeSI, please contact us via support@nesi.org.nz.

Institution

Institutional allocations are available to project teams where at least one team member is a staff member at an investing or subscribing institution. These allocations are reviewed on an on demand basis by NeSI, working together with the project’s host institution, and against evaluation criteria established by that institution.

Conditions:

  • We may publish the title and description of your research programme, along with information about research outcomes you have attained using NeSI, on the NeSI website and in other places for our business purposes. If due to privacy or commercial confidentiality requirements publication would present a problem for you, please make this fact known to NeSI staff during the application process.

 

Review Cycles

While researchers may apply for a NeSI project allocation at any time, applications are assessed at different times depending on the class of allocation.

Proposal Development

If all required information is provided in a Proposal Development application, access will usually be immediate.

Institution

Applications in the Institution class are assessed monthly. 

Merit / Postgraduate

Applications in the Merit and Postgraduate classes are accepted and assessed in quarterly allocation periods. The diagram below illustrates how these quarterly call periods are scheduled during the year:


 

Under this quarterly call schedule, Merit and Postgraduate allocation applications will be accepted from:

  • 01 August - 31 October
  • 01 November - 31 January
  • 01 February - 30 April
  • 01 May - 31 July

Requests will be reviewed in the month following the call period and researchers will be notified by the third Monday of that month. Allocations will start on the first day of the next month and run for one year.

For example, if you apply in the Aug - Oct call period, your project will be reviewed in early November, you will be notified of your allocation by the third Monday in November, and your allocation will start on 01 December (as shown in the graphic below)



 

To renew an allocation, you must re-apply in one of the quarterly call periods.

 

Questions / More Information

If you have questions about the allocation classes, review cycles, or other steps involved with getting access, please contact support@nesi.org.nz.