Information

NCMAS 2016 Computational Resources

The National Computational Merit Allocation Scheme is the premier, competitive program for allocation of high-performance computing resources for scientific research in Australia. NCMAS will allocate HPC resources on the following participating facilities for the 2016 calendar year.

System Facility Share Computing Time (KSU)
NCI: Raijin (Fujitsu) 15 % 75000
Pawsey Centre: Magnus (Cray) 15 % 57600
VLSCI: Avoca (IBM BlueGene/Q) 15 % 21500
Monash: MASSIVE (SF Visualisation) 10 % 1950
UQ: FlashLite (Xenon) 15 % 1930

NOTE: All references to computational resources will be in units of kilo-service-units; 1 KSU = 1000 service units (SU). Service units are scaled to be equivalent across all participating HPC facilities.

Schedule

Key dates for the NCMAS 2016 application round are listed in the table below.

Date Event
07/09/2015 (Mon)  --- TO BE CONFIRMED --- Applications open
02/10/2015 (Fri) Applications close (5:00 pm AEST)
14/10/2015 (Fri) Technical assessments close
20/11/2015 (Fri) Merit assessments close
30/11/2015 - 01/12/2015 (Mon-Tue) Allocation Committee meeting
11/12/2015 (Fri) Applicants and facilities notified of outcomes

Eligibility

Lead Chief Investigators

In keeping with guidelines for access to Commonwealth-funded research infrastructure, and relevant Australian Government legislation, Lead Chief Investigators of NCMAS projects must Australia-based researchers and hold a substantive position at a higher-education institution or research institute (which are eligible to receive funds from the Australian Research Council or the National Health and Medical Research Council), or an Australian publicly-funded research agency (e.g. CSIRO, BoM, Geoscience Australia, ANSTO, etc.)

Special allocations

A limited number of special allocations will be made available to Early Career Researchers, new appointments, or others who may otherwise not be competitive in the main NCMAS pool. These allocations are to enable such researchers to establish a presence and track record on the national facilities. These allocations will be considered by the NCMAS merit allocation committee independently of the main NCMAS application pool. Special allocations will be a fixed award of 250 KSU/year. Proposals for special allocations should be a maximum of 1000 words (approximately 2 pages). These allocations are highly competitive. Recipients would be expected to hold or be competitive for a junior personal research fellowship, such as an ARC DECRA or NHMRC CDA.  

Proposal Guidelines

Assessment and allocation

The assessment of proposals will be based on a combination of technical and scientific merit (see section on Selection Criteria) based on material provided in the proposal. All applicants are expected to provide a detailed justification of the resources requested, and are expected to demonstrate the capacity to utilise the requested HPC resources effectively. All requests must be proportional to the scientific merit of the proposal. The NCMAS Committee reserves the right to allocate all or part of the resources available, and all or part of any specific request.

Minimum request

The minimum resource request that will be considered by the NCMAS Committee is 100 KSU per year. Applicants requiring less than 100 KSU per year are encouraged to approach their home institution, regional HPC consortia in their home state (i.e. Intersect, QCIF, eRSA, TPAC), or partner schemes on the national facilities held by their institution with their resource request.

Minimun allocation

The minimum allocation that will be awarded by the Committee will be 100 KSU per year. Proposals assessed as not requiring 100 KSU per year will be rejected.

Maximum request

There will be no formal maximum limit on the resources requested in a NCMAS proposal. This is to enable researchers to prepare a single proposal that can be considered by multiple allocations schemes, and which reflects their true need for HPC resources. A request for more than 4000 KSU per year would normally be associated with teams of experienced researchers who can clearly demonstrate a track record of efficient use of HPC facilities. Note that any proposal deemed not to have fully justified the associated request will be rejected.

Maximum allocation

The maximum allocation that will be made by the NCMAS will depend on the demand for resources and the relative merit of alternative proposals. The expected maximum allocation for 2016 is 6000 KSU per year (approximately 5% of the combined resource.) Allocations of more than 6000 KSU per year will only be made to exceptional projects involving researchers with an outstanding record of success.

Quantised allocations

Computing resources will be allocated in specific increments (quanta) as indicated on the NCMAS application form. This is to simplify the work of the allocation committee.

Proposal length

The length and rigour of a proposal will be proportional to the requested allocation. Guidelines for the length of proposals are listed in the table below. Note that 500 words is approximately one page of single-spaced, 12-point type, with 2 cm margins.

Resource Request (KSU) Proposal Length (words)
Greater than 4000 3000
1000–4000 2000
100-1000 1000

Conditions of Use

All NCMAS applicants (Lead Chief Investigators) will be required to sign and return a certification for conditions of use and compliance with recent Commonwealth legislation, in particular, the Autonomous Sanctions Act (2011, Cth) and the Defence Trade Controls Act (2012, Cth), which impose additional requirements for supporting documentation and certification of project researchers in some circumstances. Applicants should review the current conditions of use available on facility websites (follow links to the individual facility web sites.)

Email Addresses

To ensure compliance with relevant Australian Government legislation, all researchers named in NCMAS applications must register and use an official institutional email address for all correspondence. Chief Investigators and researchers who currently use a non-institutional email address (for example, @gmail.com or @yahoo.com) must register an official institutional email address before their NCMAS project application can be accepted and processed. Please note that it is the responsibility of the Lead Chief Investigator to ensure that all project staff register and use official email addresses.

Assessments

NCMAS applications will be assessed based on 1) scientific merit, 2) technical viability and 3) suitability of the requested facilities. The assessment procedure will be as follows:

Step 1: Technical Assessment by Facilities

Technical assessments are conducted by the nominated national HPC facilities. Technical assessments are provided as advice to the NCMAS Allocation Committee.

Technical assessment criteria:

  • Appropriateness of the computational resources requested for the project:
    • The need for such resources to conduct the research.
    • Suitability of the system (hardware/software) and its operational environment to support the project.
    • Evidence or experience to demonstrate that the project will use the facilities effectively and efficiently.
      • Effective and efficient use of the resources allocated means that the use will result in both the stated research outcomes and good system utilisation (i.e., maximised compute outcomes/outputs for the grant that is awarded).
  • Reasonableness of the level of resources requested:
    • Relative to the total resources available.
    • Needed to make adequate progress in the proposed research program.
  • Track record in using merit allocated computational resources (where relevant):
    • In the case of proposals to continue a project, or a new project from existing grant holders, this implies a record of achievement and the demonstration of effective and efficient use of previous allocations.

Step 2: Merit Assessment by Committee

Merit assessments are conducted by members of the NCMAS Allocation Committee. Final allocations are determined at the NCMAS Allocation Committee meeting. All allocation decisions by the Committee are final. 

Merit assessment criteria:

  • Merits of the research (excellence and impact), as assessed by the potential of the work to generate new knowledge in an important area, the comparative scientific merit of the work within its discipline, its originality and the international competitiveness of the research.
  • Experience and demonstrated research capacity of the applicant and the project team.
  • Alignment with national research priorities and, as appropriate, complementing other national research infrastructure capability investments.

Acknowledgements

A condition of accepting an allocation of resources through the NCMAS is that applicants acknowledge both the scheme and the specific facility used in all publications and presentations of the associated work. For example: 

"This work was supported by computational resources provided by the Australian Government through <facility_name> under the National Computational Merit Allocation Scheme."

IIf you have any questions about the application process please contact the NCMAS Secretariat at ncmas@nci.org.au.

Best regards,

NCMAS Secretariat