Research PortalRAC – Frequently Asked Questions

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Compute Canada’s resource competitions have seen significant growth in demand since the first call for applications in 2011.

For more information on Compute Canada’s Resource Allocation Competitions (RAC) process, please refer to these Frequently Asked Questions or send questions to rac@computecanada.ca.

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RESOURCE ALLOCATION COMPETITION (RAC) FAQs

1. Why does Compute Canada need to allocate its resources?

The advanced research computing (ARC) needs of the Canadian research community continue to grow as the next generation of scientific instruments is deployed, as ARC becomes relevant to answering key questions in an ever broader list of disciplines, as new datasets are gathered and mined in innovative ways, and as technological advances allow researchers to construct ever more precise models of the world around us. The current CC infrastructure must keep pace with the needs of Canadian researchers. Demand for resources has grown each year and our systems are currently running at maximum capacity. To learn more about Compute Canada’s technical refresh planning click here.

2. Who is eligible to use Compute Canada resources?

Any individual who is eligible to apply to national granting councils for funding is eligible to apply for an allocation. Typically, this means that regular faculty are eligible to apply while postdoctoral fellows and graduate students are not. Individuals who have adjunct status may apply for an allocation if the project for which the allocation is requested is eligible for funding from CFI or the granting councils. A lead PI cannot submit more than one individual application, but can be a participant in other submissions. A lead PI may simultaneously hold an individual Resources for Research Groups (RRG) allocation and a Research Platforms and Proposals (RPP) allocation.

3. What are the Resource Allocation Competitions (RAC)?

Compute Canada’s annual Resource Allocation Competitions (RAC) are peer-reviewed competitions that provide priority computing time and storage space on Compute Canada systems. These competitions are open to projects from all disciplines, from humanities to subatomic physics. The allocation requests are peer-reviewed and awarded based on scientific merit and the quality of the research applicant.

4. Is there any funding available through the Compute Canada Resource Allocation Competitions?

No, Compute Canada is not a funding agency. Through our Resource Allocation Competitions, we offer computing time and storage space in our systems.

5. What is the Fast Track process?
In certain situations, there are researchers and small groups who wish to maintain their existing allocation with no change to the scientific approach or minimal to no changes to the amount of resources needed. To reduce the need to re-evaluate these proposals, Compute Canada created a “Fast Track” process.

Fast Track grants eligible PIs currently holding a RRG award access to a much lighter application process. Please keep in mind the following:

  • Fast Track DOES NOT guarantee that you will receive the same allocation as last year.
  • If you use this process, your 2018 allocation will be scaled reusing the science score from your most recently submitted full RRG application.

Fast Track is available by invitation only for current RRG award holders who meet the following criteria:

  • The amount requested in the previous RRG competition round must be:
    • Compute request: <2000 Core Years
    • Storage request: <1000 TBs
    • GPU request: <200 GPU Years
    • Cloud Compute request: < 500 VCPUs
    • Persistent Cloud: request: <100 VCPUs
  • PIs can ask for up to the same amount of resources requested in the previous RRG full application.
    • If you need more resources than what you originally requested in your RRG full application, you must submit a full application this fall.
  • Due to the delay in the implementation of the 2017 allocations, this year we are allowing applicants who have already been fast tracked twice, to apply again.

Compute Canada is decommissioning most of its legacy systems by April 2018. This means that many allocations will need to be migrated to one or several of the new national systems.

6. What kinds of computing and storage systems are available for researchers to access through these resource competitions?

Compute Canada provides a broad spectrum of advanced computing services in support of research, including technical support, training and application. In this call for proposals, you will be able to request access to:

  • Capability clusters
  • Capacity clusters
  • Large shared memory systems
  • General-purpose computing on graphics processing units (GPGPU)
  • Local and non-local storage
  • Cloud

For more information on the resources and services Compute Canada provides, visit the National Services page on our website.

7. What kind of technical support is available with an allocation?

The Compute Canada team of experts is available to assist researchers in making use of their allocations. Please email support@computecanada.ca

Support may include installing and configuring software packages, assistance in code optimization, and detailed advice on how to solve technical issues. While the Compute Canada team member may end up writing some code for your group, your allocation does not entitle you to deep “embedded” programming support. As a rule of thumb, our staff will help solve problems requiring a few days of their effort, not a few months of their effort.

8. Should I consult with Compute Canada before submitting my competition application(s)?

Yes. It is strongly recommended that all applicants consult with Compute Canada technical staff responsible for the systems they intend to use. This ensures the technical aspects of the proposals match well with the requested systems, to the PI’s benefit. PIs who have not previously used Compute Canada systems MUST discuss their proposal with Compute Canada technical staff before submission.

All consultations with Compute Canada staff should take place in advance of completing your proposal, to allow time for discussion or revisions to the proposal if needed. If you do not know the appropriate technical staff to contact, please email rac@computecanada.ca.

9. How do I apply to the competitions?

Any researcher interested in applying to the Resources for Research Groups (RRG) or Research Platforms and Proposals (RPP) competitions must be registered with the Compute Canada DataBase (CCDB). Instructions for registering with the CCDB can be found on the Compute Canada website. All applications must be submitted electronically through the CCDB’s Resource Applications section.

10. Can a researcher apply to both the Resources for Research Groups (RRG) and the Research Platforms and Portals (RPP) Competitions?

Yes, you may submit or participate in proposals to both competitions; however, it is not recommended to submit the same project to both competitions. Each competition has specific eligibility criteria, which are outlined in the Competition Guides. Prior to submitting a proposal, you should review each competition’s criteria to ensure your project aligns with the focus. If after reviewing the competition guides you still have questions or concerns, please contact us at rac@computecanada.ca.

11. Is the Canadian Common CV (CCV) required to apply for Compute Canada resources?

The CCV is now required for the Compute Canada account renewals and the Resource Allocation Competitions (excepting Fast Track). Integrating CCV into the Compute Canada DataBase (CCDB) makes it easier for applicants to upload their CVs and standardize their format. It also helps the expert review committees evaluate the quality of each project’s research team.

12. I don’t recognize some of the acronyms or terms used in the CCDB application template. Is there a glossary available?

Yes. A comprehensive list of terms and acronyms used in the competition and application process is available here. Please consult this Glossary when preparing your application.

13. Am I at a disadvantage if my project proposal doesn’t rely on, or only partly overlaps with, existing Compute Canada infrastructure?

Compute Canada’s Resource Allocation Competitions only grant access to Compute Canada infrastructure. If you have questions about whether the infrastructure you are using is part of Compute Canada’s national platform, please contact us at rac@computecanada.ca.

14. Do I need to secure the collaboration of an existing Compute Canada site prior to submitting an application to one of your resource competitions?

No. You can request access to a service and we will find the best location in our network to host that service. If you did happen to have an existing collaboration, you could mention it and we can pick the most convenient option, but it is not a requirement.

15. My research team is small and we do not have much funding, can I still apply to the Resource Allocation Competitions?

Yes. Any individual who is eligible to apply to national granting councils for funding is eligible to apply for an allocation, irrespective of the size of the research team or the funding received.

16. Can the deadlines for final submissions be extended?

No. The published deadline for submitting final applications to the Resources for Research Groups (RRG) and Research Platforms and Portals (RPP) competitions is a final deadline. There will be no extensions and late submissions will not be accepted. Any concerns with this policy may be directed to rac@computecanada.ca.

17. When will I know if my application is successful?

All applicants will be notified of their competition results in March. You will be contacted by email with any additional information you may need or action items required of you to finalize your allocation. Once all recipients have been privately notified, Compute Canada will publish a list of recipients, project allocation amounts, and allocation values to its public website.

18. How does Compute Canada calculate the value of its allocation awards?

It is possible to assign a monetary value to each allocation. This is useful for researchers to assign an in-kind value of the contribution of Compute Canada to their research program (please note: this in-kind valuation cannot be used as match for a CFI award). These values represent an average across all Compute Canada facilities and include the total capital and operational costs incurred by Compute Canada to deliver the resources and associated services. These are not commercial or market values.

For example, for the 2017 competition, the value of the resources allocated was calculated using the following:

  • 1 CPU year: $188.84
  • 1 GPU year: $566.52
  • 1 TB of storage / year: $128
  • 1 VCPU year: $40.5
  • 1 TB of cloud storage (Ceph) / year: $178.5

The monetary values for the 2018 resource allocations will be made available when the competition results are announced in March 2018.

19. When will I receive my allocation(s)?

All successful allocations are activated in the Spring. The exact starting date will be confirmed in your notification letter.

20. When I am given a resource allocation for computation in core-years, what does that mean?

It means that you will be given priority on a shared Compute Canada system. If you make use of that priority by submitting a steady load of computational “jobs” throughout the year, you should get at least the level of core-years you have been allocated. This is something known as a “fair-share” system, not a “dedicated use” system. If your workload is not steady, but will rather come as a burst during a certain time of year, you are asked to note this in your application and we will attempt to accommodate your workflow.

21. Even though I explained how a reduction in my requested allocation would impact my research, why was my final allocation less than my request?

Each year, our infrastructure is heavily oversubscribed. In order to support as many high-quality proposals as possible, final allocations are decided based on the caliber of the project’s science and the merits of the project team. Many projects, across all disciplines, received final allocations less than their original request. The 2018 RAC process is expected to be very competitive as well, and so the final allocation amounts for 2018 competition may be subject to the same decisions around final allocation amounts.

22. If I use my total allocation and it was not sufficient for my needs, can I get access to more resources?

Any Compute Canada user can access modest quantities of compute, storage and cloud resources through Compute Canada’s Rapid Access Service. Unlike the RAC, the Rapid Access Service is not a guaranteed allocation of certain computational resources. It is a shared pool of unallocated resources.

For compute allocations, generally speaking, Compute Canada allocates its batch processing priority based on a fair-share algorithm. Each user is allocated a share of the total system resources, which effectively translates into priority access to the system. If you have used a large fraction of the system recently (ie. larger than your fair-share), your priority drops. However, the scheduling system has a limited time window over which it calculates priority. After some time (e.g., weeks) of reduced usage, it gradually “forgets” that you overused in the past. This is designed to ensure full system usage and not to penalize users who take advantage of idle compute resources. A consequence is that your total allocation is not a limit on how many compute resources you can consume. Rather, your total allocation represents what you should be able to get over the course of the year if you submit a constant workload to the system and it is fully busy. In other words, once your “total allocation” is used, just keep working.

23. Do currently supported RAC allocations get priority when future allocations are decided?

Each annual Resource Allocation Competition (RAC) is handled as a separate process. The current projects have an advantage in that they have demonstrated usage and success stories, but not an advantage by policy.

24. What if I need a RAC allocation but I’ve missed the competition deadline?

Compute Canada’s annual Resource Allocation Competitions announce their formal Calls for Submissions early in the fall each year with final submissions due in November. Compute Canada will only consider requests outside of this time frame under very special circumstances. Two such examples include:

  1. a sudden chance for a major breakthrough, or
  2. a new faculty member who just moved to Canada.

In these special situations a researcher can submit an “Out-of-Round” application at any time of year. Compute Canada staff will review the project’s requirements and if the researcher qualifies, he/she will be granted access to complete an Out-of-Round application through a link administered through the Compute Canada DataBase (CCDB).

Out-of-Round requests are reviewed based on the quality of the science outlined in the proposal, the qualifications of the principal investigators, and the technical justification for the requested resources. Following submission, the resource requirements and justification documents will undergo a review process and the user will be notified of next steps. For more information, or to request an Out-of-Round Application, please contact rac@computecanada.ca .

25. My research team is small and we do not have much funding, can I still apply to the Resource Allocation Competitions?

Yes. Any individual who is eligible to apply to national granting councils for funding is eligible to apply for an allocation, irrespective of the size of the research team or the funding received.

26. What is the role of the Expert Review Committees?

The Expert Review Committees are created annually to evaluate the applications for the Resources for Research Groups (RRG) and Research Platforms and Portals (RPP) competitions. In 2018, there are eight Expert Review Committees:

  • Astronomy and Subatomic Physics
  • Bioinformatics, Neuroscience and Medical Imaging
  • Chemistry, Biochemistry and Biophysics
  • Environmental and Earth Sciences
  • Engineering, Mathematical and Computer Sciences
  • Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Nano, Materials and Condensed Matter
  • Research Platforms and Portals

The members of the 2018 National Resource Allocation Competitions Committee (NRAC) will be listed here.

27. Am I able to choose which Expert Review Committee reviews my proposal?

Yes, applicants may choose the scientific committee they would like to review their proposals; however, Compute Canada reserves the right to assign the proposal to another committee if necessary.

28. What is the role of the Resource Allocation Competition (RAC) Administrative Committee?

Led by Compute Canada’s Chief Science Officer, the Resource Allocation Competition (RAC) Administrative Committee implements the competition policies, oversees the entire competition process and provides technical and administrative support to the Expert Review Committees. While the expert review committees determine the merit of the proposal and the appropriate resource allocation, the RAC Administrative Committee is responsible for making those allocations “fit” on existing Compute Canada resources. This may involve applying a scaling to all allocations, but that scaling will be based on the science score from the expert committee, not an evaluation by the RAC Administrative Committee. This RAC Administrative Committee is composed of individuals who are knowledgeable of Compute Canada resources and are significantly experienced in the RAC process. It is comprised of technical and administrative leaders representing each region (WestGrid, Compute Ontario, Calcul Québec, and ACENET).

29. Why has the size of annual RAC requests increased each year?

The growing demand for Compute Canada resources is reflective of global trends of increased data-intensive research. Within Canada’s research community, we are seeing computational tools and services increasingly being used to identify patterns, undertake modelling and simulations, and support the collection and distribution of massive volumes of data. Table 1 below shows the increase in size of compute and storage resource requests, as well as the average amount awarded, since 2011.

Table 1: Compute supply vs. demand

Year Cluster size Total CY Requested Total CY allocated Shortfall capacity CY Shortfall % Average awarded
2011 132,316 72,848 75,471 -2,623 -3.60% 103.60%
2012 189,024 103,845 87,312 16,533 15.92% 84.10%
2013 187,227 142,106 126,677 15,429 10.86% 89.10%
2014 190,466 172,989 133,508 39,481 22.82% 77.20%
2015 161,888 191,690 123,699 67,991 35.47% 64.50%
2016 155,952 237,862 1,284,637 109,399 46% 54%
2017 182,760 254,638 147,440 107,198 42% 58%
30. What is Compute Canada doing to address the increasing demand for advanced computing resources?

Compute Canada is leading one of the biggest advanced research computing renewals in Canada’s history. Over the course of 2015-2018, Compute Canada will use funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) to replace aging systems across the country with four new systems that will consolidate resources and centralize services. The institutions nominated to host these new systems are:

  • University of Toronto – Large Parallel (Niagara) Site
  • University of Victoria – General Purpose (Arbutus) Site
  • Simon Fraser University – General Purpose (Cedar) Site
  • University of Waterloo – General Purpose (Graham) Site

Please refer to Compute Canada’s Technology Briefing for more information on this renewal process.

31. What is SPARC and how does it relate to Compute Canada’s computing and storage resources?

Compute Canada’s capital and operations priorities are driven by the needs of the Canadian research community. Alongside Compute Canada’s renewal and consolidation planning, its Sustainable Planning for Advanced Research Computing Phase 2 (SPARC2) initiative was a consultation process to gather feedback from users and researchers on the types of investment required to enable Canada’s excellence and leadership in science and innovation.

Through a series of in-person and online feedback sessions, an online survey, and a call for White Papers, Compute Canada gathered feedback from researchers on community needs for 2017-2022. This informed capital planning (technology choices), service offerings and the setting of operational priorities.

32. How can I help Compute Canada advocate for more resources?

Collectively, we all have a role to ensure advanced research computing resources keep pace with the needs of Canadian researchers and their international and industrial partners. You can help by:

  1. Letting decision makers in your institution know that advanced research computing is essential to your research.
  2. Ensuring your President and VPR are aware of how digitally intensive research is transformative and that it requires sustainable predictable funding models.
  3. Mentioning the resources you use in your publications and presentations.
  4. Writing your local MP to share news of your research and how you use advanced research computing.
  5. Working with your communications department on success stories highlighting the advances in digitally intensive research.

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RESOURCES FOR RESEARCH GROUPS (RRG) COMPETITION FAQs

1. What is the Resources for Research Groups (RRG) Competition?

Prior to 2016, this competition was referred to as the Resource Allocation Competition (RAC). The name has been changed to more clearly distinguish it from the overall Research Allocation Competition process and the Research Platforms and Portals (RPP) Competition.

The Resources for Research Groups (RRG) Competition was created to enable individual faculty members, and their sponsored research groups, to access compute and storage resources beyond what can be obtained via the Rapid Access Service. Allocations are awarded based on scientific merit, quality of the research team, and development of highly-qualified personnel (HQP). This competition is peer-reviewed and the allocations are available for one (1) year starting in the Spring.

2. Who should apply to the Resources for Research Groups (RRG) competition?

The RRG Competition is open to projects from all disciplines. Depending on your request, your RRG application will fall into one of two streams:

  • Regular:
    • Compute between 50*-1999 Core Years
    • Storage between 10-999 TBs
    • GPUs between 10-199 GPU years
    • Cloud Compute between 80-499 VCPUs
    • Persistent Cloud between 10-99 VCPUs
  • Large:
    • exceeds at least one of the resource limits for Regular as defined above

*If you require <50 core years but high memory per core, please use the following formula to calculate the Core Year Equivalent and know whether you should submit an application or use RAS for your compute needs.

  • Core Year Equivalent =Max(Core Year, Core Year Equivalent in memory)]
[Core Year Equivalent in memory =  CY* mem per core requested/ 4 GB mem per core]
3. Why are there two application streams in the Resources for Research Groups (RRG) Competition? What is the difference between them?

The purpose of streaming is to make access to resources easier for Compute Canada users, as well as to reduce the documentation required for allocations below a certain amount and the complexity of the corresponding evaluation process for the Regular Stream relative to the Large Stream.

Differences in the evaluation process are described in the table below:

Stream Evaluation
Regular
  • At least 2 peer review and 1 tech review.
  • Discussed in disciplinary committee to determine final science score.
Large
  • At least 3 peer reviews and 1 tech review. One of the peer reviews may be external/international.
  • Discussed in disciplinary committee to determine final science score.
  • Discussed at the multidisciplinary face-to-face meeting of RAC chairs to determine final allocation.
4. What should I do if I need less than the minimum amount of resources allowed to submit an RRG application?

If you require resources which are less than the lower bound on the Resources for Research Groups (RRG) Competition’s Regular Stream, you do not need to submit an RRG application. Instead, you should make use of Compute Canada’s Rapid Access Service, which allows any Compute Canada user to access modest quantities of compute, storage and cloud resources after they register for an account. Many research groups can meet their needs through RAS only.

5. Can a researcher submit more than one application to the Resources for Research Groups (RRG) competition?

No. While Principal investigators (PIs) can participate as collaborators on other projects submitting RRG proposals, they can only be the lead applicant for one RRG application.

6. Do I need to apply to the RRG again this year even if I received an RRG allocation last year?

Yes. Allocations in the Resources for Research Groups (RRG) Competition are granted on a one-year basis, so applicants must re-apply each year for a new allocation.

7. Do I need to submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) to apply to the RRG?

No. A Notice of Intent (NOI) is NOT required for this competition.  To apply for the RRG, you simply need to complete an application form in the Compute Canada DataBase (CCDB). The RRG Competition announces its formal Call for Submissions in October with final submissions due in November.

8. Is every application to the Resources for Research Groups (RRG) Competition accepted?

No. Due to the imbalance of demand versus available resources, the RRG has increasingly become a more competitive process. In 2017, 345 applications (including new and Fast Track) were submitted to the RRG competition and 327 allocations were awarded. The table below shows the comparison of applications submitted versus allocations granted.

2017 RAC Applications – Submitted vs. Granted

RAC 2017 Applications Submitted Allocations Granted
Compute 352 314
Storage 282 271
GPU 42 34
Cloud (VCPU) 46 42
9. What is the average amount of resources requested and allocated?

Using data from the 2017 competition, RRG applications on average received 58% of their requested compute amount and 99% of their requested storage.

10. How are the Resources for Research Groups (RRG) applications evaluated?

All proposals are reviewed based on their scientific and technical merits. In the scientific review, the two areas of focus are: Quality of the Science (60%) and Quality of the Team (40%).

11. How are Fast Track allocations decided?

First, we take into account the amount of resources requested in the applicant’s original Resources for Research Groups (RRG) application. Requests may be adjusted based on the experience and the usage shown during the previous year. Then, all Fast Track requests are scaled back based on the science score given for the original RRG application.

12. Do you anticipate I will receive more, less, or about the same allocation for the next Resources for Research Groups (RRG) Competition?

The Resources for Research Groups (RRG) Competition is getting more and more competitive each year given Compute Canada’s fixed resources. New infrastructure and resources have come online and more will become available over the next few years through Compute Canada’s platform renewal. However, during the migration to the new national systems, Compute Canada will continue to allocate what it can within its fixed resource base.

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RESEARCH PLATFORMS AND PORTALS (RPP) COMPETITION FAQs

1. What is the Resource Platforms and Portals (RPP) Competition and how is it different from the Resources for Research Groups (RRG) Competition?

The Research Platforms and Portals (RPP) Competition was created in 2014 to enable communities of researchers to develop and benefit from projects that improve access to shared datasets, enhance existing online research tools / facilities, or advance national or international research collaborations.

The RPP competition is targeted specifically at applications that create new or support existing research platforms or portals. Allocations in the RPP competition may be awarded over multiple years (maximum of three years). Multi-year allocations are subject to an annual review prior to the start of subsequent years and to the availability of resources. This is different from the Resources for Research Group (RRG) Competition, which is targeted at individuals and small groups requesting access to Compute Canada resources and which grants allocations on a one-year basis. For more information on these competitions, click here.

2. Who should apply to the Research Platforms and Portals (RPP) Competition?

Groups are encouraged to use the Research Platforms and Portals (RPP) competition if their application falls within any of the following categories:

  • Resources requested on behalf of a large community of users that will be reallocated to individuals and small groups following the award.
  • Applications that provide a public platform that will make use of Compute Canada computing or storage.
  • Groups engaging in international agreements to provide multi-year computing or storage solutions based in Canada.
  • Groups that are providing shared datasets accessible using a third party (non-Compute Canada) interface.

If your project does not fall into any of the categories above, you are encouraged to access Compute Canada resources through other means:

  • All Compute Canada users have access to modest quantities of resources without scientific review through a Rapid Access Service . (Note: This replaces what was formerly known as a default allocation.)
  • If you need more resources than can be obtained through Rapid Access but do not meet the RPP criteria above, please apply to the Resources for Research Groups (RRG) Competition.

If you have any questions about whether your resource needs fit within the RPP Competition, please contact us at rac@computecanada.ca to discuss.

3. Does the RPP Competition have application streams like the RRG Competition?

The Research Platforms and Portals (RPP) competition has two application streams:

  • Service Portal:
    A research web portal providing datasets or tools to a broad research community. Portals generally do not require large computing or storage resources, but may require support effort by the Compute Canada technical team. Groups applying for a service portal often use the Compute Canada Cloud, generally require a static IP address, and may (or may not) have more stringent up-time requirements than most research projects. This option is shown as “Portal” in the online NOI form.
  • Compute and Storage Platform:
    Platforms usually provide significant compute and storage resources to a community of users. This may include a user-friendly front-end that submits traditional batch jobs on the back-end. Please note: Any proposal requiring at least 50 core years (or 50 VCPUs in the cloud) OR more than 50 TB of storage is considered to be a Compute and Storage Platform. This option is shown as “Platform” in the online form.

Generally speaking, Platforms consume much larger physical resources than Service Portals and as such, they will be subjected to more rigorous review. To learn more about the types of projects that apply to the RPP Competition, visit our RPP Case Studies page.

4. Can researchers submit more than one RPP application?

Yes. Each RPP represents a single platform or a single portal. Researchers are free to submit and participate on more than one application. If the platforms or portals are related to each other, you are also free to combine them in a single application.

5. Do I need to submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) to apply to the RPP Competition?

No. The NOI is no longer required for the RPP competition.

6. If I receive a multi-year allocation, do I have to submit a full application every year to renew it?

No. RPP projects that are awarded multi-year allocations are required to submit an annual progress report; however, they do not need to submit a new application each year to renew. This annual progress report must be uploaded directly on CCDB.

7. If I have a one-year RPP allocation and want to keep it for next year, do I have to submit a new application?

Yes. Only those projects that requested and were awarded resources for more 2 or 3 years will be exempted from re-applying. Please consult the RPP Competition Guide for further details.

8. How are the RPP applications evaluated?

Generally speaking, Compute and Storage Platforms consume much larger physical resources than Service Portals. As such, they will be subjected to more rigorous review.

Stream Evaluation
Service Portal
  • At least 1 peer review and 1 technical review.
  • May be awarded without further panel discussion if reviews are positive.
Compute and Storage Platform
  • At least 2 peer reviews and 1 technical review.
  • Mandatory scoring discussion at the RPP committee meeting.
  • Potential science impact review from a disciplinary panel.
  • Potentially discussed at the multidisciplinary face-to-face meeting of RAC committee chairs to determine final allocation.
9. If my needs are going to increase over time, but I am not sure how or when that might happen, is it best to submit a shorter term (e.g. 1 year) but more accurate proposal, or should I anticipate my changing needs and submit a longer-term application?

You have the option of asking for a three-year allocation and then adjusting your ask after the first year. However, that model works well if the scope of the project is very similar and you are tweaking. If you do not need any computational cores in year one but suddenly request to running 128-core jobs in the middle of your grant, that would be a separate proposal. It is common for projects to ask for a single-year award and then reassess.

10. What information do I need to provide in the RPP annual progress report?

The RPP competition has the potential to provide research projects with multi-year awards (up to 3 years). It is important that projects report on their status regularly (at least once per year) during the three-year period. This is essential — both for Compute Canada’s ability to report to our funders and to ensure that the project is on track. In the case of unexpected delays or difficulties with the project, this report provides an opportunity to identify obstacles to success and allows Compute Canada to work with project teams to eliminate those obstacles. In addition, it allows Compute Canada to reassign unused resources to ensure effective and full utilization by researchers.

1. Has your platform or portal been Fsuccessfully implemented on Compute Canada resources?
State whether the RPP has been successfully implemented on Compute Canada resources and whether it is currently operational. Identify any ongoing problems. Provide an update of your current status relative to your submitted strategic plan.

2. Is your platform or portal currently operational?
3. Identify any ongoing problems.
4. Usage table.

Provide usage details in the table below. Provide counts both of the unique users and the total number of portal accesses since the previous year’s progress report (or since the start of the award) and identify growth over that period. Note that “Canadian Users” refers to any user based at a Canadian institution. The data collection period will usually represent the usage since the last progress report or the previous year. If this is the first progress report for your project, it will represent the number of users since the award was made. Please exclude any columns that are irrelevant to your specific RPP.

User # of Unique Users # of Accesses Compute Usage (Core-Years) Storage Allocated (TB)
Canadian
International

5. Describe any important breakthroughs enabled by the RPP over the previous year.
Provide a list of research publications or other contributions (e.g., conference presentations, patents, etc.) enabled by the RPP in the last year (DOIs preferred). These breakthroughs need not be the research of the RPP proponents. Many RPPs provide services that are critically relied upon by researchers around the world. These researchers should acknowledge the RPP in their publications and those publications should be reflected in the provided list.

6. Training and outreach.
Please report on any HQP trained through the use of your platform. The number of graduate students, postdocs, etc. who rely on your RPP is an important item in Compute Canada’s reports to funders.

User # of Unique Users
Undergraduate Student
Master’s Student
PhD
PostDoc
Research Associates
Research Staff
Visiting Scholars
Alumni Faculty
Other

7. Significant changes in Resource Projections.
If you foresee a significant change in your needs for the coming year, please identify the change and the reason for the change. In particular, if you need more resources than originally requested, it is important that you justify this change. There is no guarantee that you will receive additional resources but we will try our best to accommodate well-justified requests where possible.

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ALLOCATION FAQs

1. What does the term 'allocation' mean?

It means that you will be given priority on a shared Compute Canada system. If you make use of that priority by submitting a steady load of computational “jobs” throughout the year, you should get at least the level of core-years you have been allocated. This is something known as a “fair-share” system, not a “dedicated use” system. If your workload is not steady, but will rather come as a burst during a certain time of year, you are asked to note this in your application and we will attempt to accommodate your workflow. Definitions for other technical terms can be found in the Compute Canada Technical Glossary.

2. What is a core-year?

One core-year is the equivalent of using one CPU core continuously for a full year. Using 12 cores for a month, or 365 cores for a single day are both equivalent to 1 core-year. Definitions for other technical terms can be found in the Compute Canada Technical Glossary.

3. How was my proposal's science score determined?

Science scores are based on the quality of the science outlined in the proposal, the qualifications of the principal investigators, HQP training opportunities, and the technical justification for the requested resources. Past usage and overall experience are also taken into consideration.

4. When will I receive my allocation(s)?

All successful allocations are activated in April. The exact starting date will be confirmed in your notification letter.

5. Is my allocation guaranteed?

No. Use of your total allocation cannot be fully guaranteed and is contingent to the availability of our systems. You should receive the full allocation listed above if you run in a reasonably constant manner over the year. If you expect to have an uneven workload, please contact the system’s support team so that they can ensure you have access to the resources you require.

6. Even though I explained the impact a reduction in my requested allocation would mean to my research, why was my final allocation less than my request?

Each year, our infrastructure is heavily oversubscribed. The 2017 RAC process was especially competitive due to an increase in the quality and size of requests by the applications received from across the country. In order to support as many high-quality proposals as possible, final allocations were decided based on the caliber of the project’s science, the merits of the project team, and what impacts a 25-50% cut in resources would have on the project. Many projects, across all disciplines, received final allocations less than their original request. The 2018 RAC process is expected to be very competitive as well, and so the final allocation amounts for 2018 competition may be subject to the same decisions around final allocation amounts.

7. If I use my total allocation and it was not sufficient for my needs, can I get access to more resources?

Compute Canada users will be able to request additional resources without needing to submit a full RAC application starting in April 2017. Any Compute Canada user can access modest quantities of compute, storage and cloud resources through Compute Canada’s Rapid Access Service. Unlike the RAC, the Rapid Access Service is not a guaranteed allocation of certain computational resources. It is a shared pool of unallocated resources.

For compute allocations, generally speaking, Compute Canada allocates its batch processing priority based on a fair-share algorithm. Each user is allocated a share of the total system resources, which effectively translates into priority access to the system. If you have used a large fraction of the system recently (ie. larger than your fair-share), your priority drops. However, the scheduling system has a limited time window over which it calculates priority.

After some time (e.g., weeks) of reduced usage, it gradually “forgets” that you overused in the past. This is designed to ensure full system usage and not to penalize users who take advantage of idle compute resources. A consequence is that your total allocation is not a limit on how many compute resources you can consume. Rather, your total allocation represents what you should be able to get over the course of the year if you submit a constant workload to the system and it is fully busy. In other words, once your “total allocation” is used, just keep working.

8. If I receive an allocation, do I need to apply to the RAC again next year?

Yes. In order to renew your allocation or ask for additional resources for next year, you must submit a new RAC application each fall. Calls for proposals will be posted on the Resource Allocations Competitions page in the Accessing Resources section of the Research Portal.

9. Do existing RAC allocations get priority when future allocations are decided?

Each annual Resource Allocation Competition (RAC) is handled as a separate process. The current projects have an advantage in that they have demonstrated usage and success stories, but not an advantage by policy.

10. How does Compute Canada calculate the value of its allocation awards?

It is possible to assign a monetary value to each allocation. This is useful for researchers to assign an in-kind value of the contribution of Compute Canada to their research program (please note: this in-kind valuation cannot be used as match for a CFI award). These values represent an average across all Compute Canada facilities and include the total capital and operational costs incurred by Compute Canada to deliver the resources and associated services. These are not commercial or market values.

For the 2017 competition, the value of the resources allocated was calculated on a per-year basis using the following rates:

◦ $188.84 / core-year
◦ $566.52 / GPU-year
◦ $128.00 / TB-year
◦ $40.50 / VCPU-year
◦ $178.50 / cloud storage TB-year (Ceph)

Please note that the valuation of each of these resources goes down each year as older, more expensive, resources are retired and replaced with newer, more cost-effective, resources.

The monetary values for the 2018 resource allocations will be made available when the 2018 competition results are announced in April.

11. What is the Rapid Access Service (RAS)?

Unlike the Resource Allocation Competition process, the Rapid Access Service (RAS) is not a guaranteed allocation of certain computational resources. It is a shared pool of unallocated resources. These resources are available for “opportunistic use” to anyone with an active Compute Canada account. Visit the RAS page for more information.

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