HPC call

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1. In 2005 a strategic review of the HPC requirements of the STFC Theory
Programme was undertaken by a HPC Working Group established by STFC for this
purpose. It recommended that STFC should take a programmatic approach to the
provision of HPC facilities, within which proposals for major investments in HPC
provision for the STFC Theory Programme are reviewed together. This would enable
STFC to establish consistency in the peer review process and to combine the
evaluation of science quality with the technical evaluation of the choice of hardware,
software, algorithm and implementation strategy.

From now on, STFC funding for HPC resources and support will be organised
through three-yearly calls for proposals. Therefore STFC now invites proposals for
HPC resources - computer hardware, system and software support and operating
costs, or alternately for access charges to local or national computing facilities. The
closing date for the receipt of proposals is 4pm 24th April 2007, but please note that
Expressions of Interest, in terms of the technical case for support, must be submitted
by 8th January 2007.

STFC HPC resources are aimed towards:

      providing crucial investigative tools to enable the STFC Theory Programme to
       produce scientific results of the highest international standards and to address
       the key science questions set out in the STFC Roadmap;
      improving scientific productivity and widening the hardware options available
       to the community through investment in HPC software development;
      broadening the training of computational scientists;
      facilitating the flow of scientific and technical expertise between and within
       STFC consortia and between STFC and other Research Council consortia.

Proposals are welcomed from consortia and individual UK institutions, but as this call
is concerned with the review of major strategic investments in HPC provision, it will
not consider proposals for smaller scale HPC resources. Therefore proposals with a
total value of less than £250k should be submitted as part of the normal astronomy or
particle physics grant rounds for consideration by either the Astronomy Grants Panel
(AGP) or the Particle Physics Grants Panel (Theory) (PPGP). In anticipation of the
creation of the Large Facilities Council, proposals from nuclear physics theory
consortia and individuals are also invited.

Proposals may request funding for up to five years, but any projects longer than three
years should be submitted as rolling grants. Such grants will be subject to review at
the three-year point. Funding for staff costs will be awarded for up to five years, but
support for travel, consumables, equipment and exceptional items will only be given
for three years up to the review date. Proposals for facilities that involve the
construction and exploitation of machine configurations that are not routinely
available commercially may be subject to staged funding, with funding for the next
stage contingent on the successful evaluation of the previous stage.
Funding for projects will be not available before October 2007.

Applicants must meet the normal eligibility requirements for grant funding. Further
information can be found at section 2 of the STFC grants handbook.

A Project Handbook is available for proposals submitted to PPRP and this should be
used as framework for proposals. Proposals should provide separate scientific and
technical cases and contain details of full project costs, with detailed planning for the
first three years of the project. Where consortium proposals are submitted, details of
the management plan and resource allocation procedure will be required.

All proposals must be submitted electronically to the using the Joint Electronic
Submission System (Je-S) (Scheme: PPRP) and reach STFC by 4pm 24th April 2007.
Applications for resources on HPCx or HECToR should be accompanied by a
completed. Application for National Supercomputing Resources form. Please note
that for HPCx resources this form should be submitted to the facility manager (contact
details on the form) for technical assessment prior to submission of the Je-S RP1
(STFC) form.

Applicants are encouraged to discuss their proposals with STFC in advance of
submission. Expressions of Interest in the form of the technical case with indicative
costings, are required by 8th January 2006. These should be emailed to Deborah
Miller at the address below.

For further information please contact the STFC e-Science and HPC Programme
Manager Deborah Miller tel: 01793 442058. Technical
advice on HPC hardware options is available from Professor Martyn Guest tel: 01925 603247.


All proposals will be fully reviewed by the PPRP. The assessment will be a two stage
process. The first stage will assess the scientific quality of the proposals and the
second stage will be a technical evaluation of the choice of hardware, software,
algorithms and implementation. Only those proposals of highest scientific quality
will pass on to the second stage, therefore it is important that proposals contain a
full scientific case. The final programme recommended will be subject to approval
by the Science Committee and Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills
(DIUS)/Ministerial sign-off.


Computing Resources

In the technical case, applicants should describe their requirement for HPC resources
in the following terms:
     peak and, if known, sustained performance (TFlop/s);
     integrated sustained performance (TFlop/s years);
     Memory, Disk space, and Long-term storage.
Consortia that provided input to the HPC Review’s “HPC Requirements of the STFC
Community” document (appendix 1 to the Strategy for HPC) should submit an
updated version of their input to this document. Other applicants should frame their
requirements along similar lines.

The technical evaluation of proposals will, in addition to reviewing the
appropriateness and cost-effectiveness of the requested computing resources of
individual proposals, consider the overall HPC requirement for the portfolio of
fundable projects and the best way of meeting that requirement. This might result in
resources being provided via routes not originally requested by applicants such as:

       a STFC- funded facility shared by two or more consortia;
       a STFC-funded facility/ies run under a joint High-End Computing (HEC)
        Programme with EPSRC, bringing together some STFC HPC facility/ies and
        HPCx/HECToR under a common service framework;
       STFC buying resources on a project by project basis or via a partnership in
        HPCx and/or HECToR.

Therefore it is important that applicants fully justify their preferred source of
computing resources. They should demonstrate why they are more cost-effective, or
why their requirement could not be met by any of the above options or why they
should be operated outside any of the above mechanisms.

Similarly, in due course, the NGS should provide an infrastructure for sharing
computing and data resources, and all HPC facilities should benefit from integration
with the NGS. Applicants should be prepared to justify exclusion from integration
with the NGS.

Systems and Software Support

Requests for system and software support will be peer reviewed as an integral part of
the requested funding for computing resources. The cost-effectiveness,
competitiveness and sustainability of the total package of hardware, system and
applications software, particularly in relation to international best practice in the field,
will be a key part of the peer review. Hardware/access to computing resources will
only be funded if proposals can fully justify their software strategies.

Consortia proposing high quality science, but requiring to improve their software will
be eligible for funding providing that an acceptable strategy to achieve this is

The development of community codes is particularly encouraged.

Software support in terms of this call is taken to include all activities which improve
the utilisation of the given hardware, or the cost-effectiveness of the hardware choice,
for example, the development of new algorithms which run efficiently on a wider
range of computer architectures. The development of new algorithms which permit
new physics are outside the scope of this call, as they are part of the physics
exploitation, and should funded from outside the HPC Programme.
HPC Studentships

The culture of computational science training in the UK has historically been
problem-specific and the standard three year PhD programme leaves little time for
formal interdisciplinary computational training. To address this problem, STFC
proposes to fund up to five High Performance Computing Studentships per annum
along the lines of the scheme already operated by EPSRC. These studentships will be
for four years, comprising one year for a modular MSc, to be undertaken either a)
interleaved with a three year PhD or b) as a one-year MSc. The MSc modules will be
provided at one of the UK’s leading computation centres and two qualifications would
be offered: a Doctorate and a Master’s degree in computational science and
engineering. More details on how to apply are available at Annex 2.

Any HEC students requested must be an integral part of the scientific programme set
out in the proposal. Applications will not be accepted for stand alone HEC


The International Review of Research using HPC in the UK saw the consortium
model as an organisational asset to the UK which should be maintained, if not
expanded. It recommended that the consortia should be allocated coordination funds
to exploit synergies within and between the consortia. Proposals may therefore
request up to £500 per annum per active researcher (academic and PDRA) for funding
such activities. Consortia are required to include a plan for the management and
coordination of these activities in the case for support. These could include student
exchanges, meetings, workshops etc.
Annex 1 Cover sheet for Expressions of Interest


Title of project :

Proposers                                            Institute
(additional names may be included on separate
sheet if necessary)

Estimated cost to STFC (please provide breakdown)

Expected start date and duration

Peak and, if known, sustained performance (TFlop/s) required

Integrated sustained performance (TFlop/s years) required

Summary of memory, disk space, and long-term storage required.
Annex 2 HEC Studentships

In the Strategic Framework for High End Computing, published by the High End
Computing Strategy Committee in June 2003, the need was identified to increase
investment in training for computational science and engineering. It recommended
that 15 to 20 four-year high end computing (HEC) studentships should be awarded
each year (across the Research Councils) to sustain a healthy skill-base. Each
studentship would include at least 25% of the four year period committed to training
modules at one of the UK’s leading computation centres; the balance of time would
be spent working on a research project at their host institution. To make the
studentship attractive to young people, two qualifications would be offered: a
Doctorate and a Master’s degree in computational science and engineering. In
response to this recommendation, EPSRC issued a call in 2004 for centres of expertise
to provide Masters level training for students in computational science and
engineering and funded two Graduate Training Centres at The University of Warwick
and the Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre.

The strategic review of HPC requirements of the STFC Theory Programme noted
computational science training in the UK was very problem-specific and that the
standard three year PhD programme left little time for formal interdisciplinary
computational training. To address this, the Working Group recommended that STFC
funded up to five High Performance Computing Studentships per annum at the
Training Centres funded by EPSRC.

How to apply

Investigators intending to apply for studentships in the HPC call must first contact the
HEC Training Centres stating which option (modular or straight MSc) is preferred:

      The University of Warwick - for administrative enquiries contact Christine
       Jarvis (02476 574111), for managerial/strategic enquiries contact Peter Taylor
      The Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre (EPCC) at the University of
       Edinburgh in conjunction with Daresbury Laboratory - More details are
       available from the EPCC HEC Training Centre, or by contacting Adam Carter
       (0131 6506009).

The training centre will advise on places available and will provide a letter of support
which should be uploaded with the grant proposal through J-eS.

The J-eS form should request funding for a four-year studentship plus MSc fees, and
any travel and accommodation associated with attending the course modules (the
centres can advise on fees and accommodation costs).

Criteria for assessment
    the quality of the science project;
    whether the project offers suitable training in research methods and

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