Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE)

The UK is signed up to the Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE). PRACE is an initiative to allow researchers to access a world-class suite of supercomputers across Europe via a central peer review system.

By EPSRC signing up to PRACE, UK researchers will now have access to different types of first-class supercomputer architectures enabling them to expand and enhance their research capability and productivity.

There is a range of computing systems available through PRACE:

  • IBM Blue Gene/P "JUGENE" (GCS@Jülich, Germany)
  • Bull Bullx cluster "CURIE" (GENCI@CEA, France)
  • Cray XE6 "HERMIT" (GCS@HLRS, Germany)
  • SuperMUC (GCS@LRZ, Germany)
  • MareNostrum (BSC, Spain)
  • FERMI (CINECA, Italy)

It is also possible to gain access to Tier-1 systems through a process managed by DECI, which runs in parallel to the the Tier-0 calls.

Access to PRACE machines

All access to PRACE machines will be managed through a central peer review system.

Calls for proposals are released about every six months and award time on the machines through a variety of different mechanisms as illustrated in the table below.

Type of proposal Length of time awarded Application mechanism Peer review process
Early access Early access One-off call May 2010 Technical and Scientific
Preparatory access 1 to 6 months Rolling access from November 2010 Technical
Project access 1 year Twice yearly calls from June 2010 Technical and Scientific
Programme access 2 years Once or twice yearly calls Technical and Scientific

Peer review will only allocate time on the machines and researchers will not be able to apply for financial support.

More information on the PRACE peer review system can be found on the PRACE website.

PRACE calls for proposals

  • 5th call for project access through PRACE
    Invitation for proposals: The Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE) announces the fifth call for project proposals through PRACE. This consists of two synchronised calls for access to both Tier-0 and Tier-1 machines.
    Issued: 17 April 2012 Closing Date: 30 May 2012
  • 4th call for project access through PRACE
    Invitation for proposals: The Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE) announces the fourth call for project proposals through PRACE. This consists of two synchronised calls for access to both Tier-0 and Tier-1 machines.
    Issued: 04 November 2011 Closing Date: 10 January 2012
  • 3rd call for project access through PRACE
    Invitation for proposals: This consists of two synchronised calls for access to both Tier-0 and Tier-1 machines.
    Issued: 20 May 2011 Closing Date: 22 June 2011
  • 2nd call for project access through PRACE
    Invitation for proposals: Open to all UK-based and most European-based academic researchers and will award time on the machine for one year.
    Issued: 17 November 2010 Closing Date: 11 January 2011
  • Preparatory access through PRACE
    Invitation for proposals: Preparatory access for researchers to test and develop their codes to ensure suitability for the PRACE Tier-0 systems.
    Issued: 16 November 2010 No Closing Date
  • 1st call for project access through PRACE
    Invitation for proposals: Open to all UK-based and most European-based academic researchers and will award time on the machine for one year.
    Issued: 15 June 2010 Closing Date: 15 August 2010
  • Early access for time on the first PRACE supercomputer
    Invitation for proposals: First PRACE machine which is the Blue Gene/P supplied by the Gauss Computing Centre and based at Juelich in Germany
    Issued: 10 May 2010 Closing Date: 10 June 2010

The UK is signed up to the Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE). PRACE is an initiative to allow researchers to access a world-class suite of supercomputers across Europe via a central peer review system.

By EPSRC signing up to PRACE, UK researchers will now have access to different types of first-class supercomputer architectures enabling them to expand and enhance their research capability and productivity.

There is a range of computing systems available through PRACE:

  • IBM Blue Gene/P "JUGENE" (GCS@Jülich, Germany)
  • Bull Bullx cluster "CURIE" (GENCI@CEA, France)
  • Cray XE6 "HERMIT" (GCS@HLRS, Germany)
  • SuperMUC (GCS@LRZ, Germany)
  • MareNostrum (BSC, Spain)
  • FERMI (CINECA, Italy)

It is also possible to gain access to Tier-1 systems through a process managed by DECI, which runs in parallel to the the Tier-0 calls.

Access to PRACE machines

All access to PRACE machines will be managed through a central peer review system.

Calls for proposals are released about every six months and award time on the machines through a variety of different mechanisms as illustrated in the table below.

Type of proposal Length of time awarded Application mechanism Peer review process
Early access Early access One-off call May 2010 Technical and Scientific
Preparatory access 1 to 6 months Rolling access from November 2010 Technical
Project access 1 year Twice yearly calls from June 2010 Technical and Scientific
Programme access 2 years Once or twice yearly calls Technical and Scientific

Peer review will only allocate time on the machines and researchers will not be able to apply for financial support.

More information on the PRACE peer review system can be found on the PRACE website.

PRACE calls for proposals

  • 5th call for project access through PRACE
    Invitation for proposals: The Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE) announces the fifth call for project proposals through PRACE. This consists of two synchronised calls for access to both Tier-0 and Tier-1 machines.
    Issued: 17 April 2012 Closing Date: 30 May 2012
  • 4th call for project access through PRACE
    Invitation for proposals: The Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE) announces the fourth call for project proposals through PRACE. This consists of two synchronised calls for access to both Tier-0 and Tier-1 machines.
    Issued: 04 November 2011 Closing Date: 10 January 2012
  • 3rd call for project access through PRACE
    Invitation for proposals: This consists of two synchronised calls for access to both Tier-0 and Tier-1 machines.
    Issued: 20 May 2011 Closing Date: 22 June 2011
  • 2nd call for project access through PRACE
    Invitation for proposals: Open to all UK-based and most European-based academic researchers and will award time on the machine for one year.
    Issued: 17 November 2010 Closing Date: 11 January 2011
  • Preparatory access through PRACE
    Invitation for proposals: Preparatory access for researchers to test and develop their codes to ensure suitability for the PRACE Tier-0 systems.
    Issued: 16 November 2010 No Closing Date
  • 1st call for project access through PRACE
    Invitation for proposals: Open to all UK-based and most European-based academic researchers and will award time on the machine for one year.
    Issued: 15 June 2010 Closing Date: 15 August 2010
  • Early access for time on the first PRACE supercomputer
    Invitation for proposals: First PRACE machine which is the Blue Gene/P supplied by the Gauss Computing Centre and based at Juelich in Germany
    Issued: 10 May 2010 Closing Date: 10 June 2010

Guidance on applying to PRACE

The UK (via EPSRC, STFC and BBSRC) are now paying around £1 million a year to be members of PRACE and to get access to the PRACE machines for UK scientists. In order to maximise the amount of time obtained, and to help those thinking of applying, the following guidance has been developed by Sylvain Laizet and Debora Sijacki, who have had a lot of experience and success in applying to PRACE. Thanks to them for their help. If anyone else would like to add anything based on their experiences, please contact the ARCHER team. (support@archer.ac.uk )

First of all, it may be obvious but it is very important to read all the information on the PRACE website. The main sources of information are the User documentation pages and the Best practice guides on the PRACE website. Make yourself aware of how to apply and what the application procedures are. You might have to apply several time before being successful. The good thing is that you will be able to use the feedback from the referees to improve your application.

You need to see a PRACE proposal in a similar way as a full RCUK proposal. Do not wait until the last minute to write your proposal. Make sure that your colleagues read it and give you valuable feedback. The scientific aspect is of crucial importance. You will need to demonstrate novelty, impact and timeliness. This is the most important part of the proposal.

Building a good team with EU partners is essential (each member of the team needs to have a specific expertise). Your experience of using HPC resources in the past and how you will manage using a Tier-0 system are also very important. It is worth emphasizing if the simulation data have a legacy value: what will be shared with the scientific community and how.

Aim for big but it is important to check how much resources are available on a given system (might be risky to ask for > 40%-50% of the system's core hours). You must aim for simulations that can only be performed on Tier 0 Systems, not on Tier 1 Systems.

You will need to produce scalability plots and representative benchmarks. If you do not have representative benchmarks and data to justify the resource request you need to apply for a Preparatory Project, which allows you to port your code, to test it, and to collect all the information necessary for a full proposal.

It is important to have a detailed plan of when/how the simulations will be setup/run/data copied/stored and what are the RAM/I/O/storage requirements at any given stage. Also have a detailed project management plan: who will do what in the collaboration, how data will be shared, meeting/telecon schedule, plans for paper writing, project webpage etc.