University of Southern California


NSF-17-558: Towards a Leadership-Class Computing Facility – Phase 1

Slots:                                                     1                             

Internal Deadline:                           Contact the Office of Research if interested.

LOI:                                                        July 14, 2017, 5pm PDT                

External Deadline:                          November 20, 2017, 5pm PDT

Award Information:                        Type:  Cooperative Agreement

Estimated Number of Awards: 1

Anticipated Amount: $60,000,000

Submission Process:                     PIs must submit their application as a Limited Submission through the Office of Research Application Portal:

Materials to submit:

 Link to Award:                        

Who May Serve as PI:                   

An organization may submit only one proposal but may be identified as sub-awardee on other proposals responding to this solicitation. The restriction to no more than one submitted proposal as lead institution is to help ensure that there is appropriate institutional commitment necessary for responsible oversight, by the potential awardee institution, of a national resource.

Collaborative projects may only be submitted as a single proposal in which a single award is being requested. The involvement of partner organizations should be supported through sub-awards administered by the submitting organization.

An individual may be the PI or co-PI on no more than one proposal that responds to this solicitation. There is no limit on the number of proposals with which an individual may be associated in other capacities.

Additionally, PIs or co-PIs are expected to commit at least 50% time to this activity.


A goal of this solicitation is to begin planning a facility that will house a leadership-class system, and sustain a long-term investment in both computing and physical infrastructure. This facility will in turn serve as a national resource for providing predictable and sustained long-term leadership computing capabilities for science and engineering to push the frontiers of knowledge, and ultimately promote the health, prosperity and welfare of the Nation.

This solicitation represents the first step towards establishing a leadership-class computing facility. The solicitation requires the deployment of a Phase 1 system with at least two to three-fold time-to-solution performance improvement over the UIUC’s Blue Waters system for a broad range of computational and data-intensive workflows that require the highest capabilities in terms of scale, throughput, and data analytics. This first phase will serve the dual purpose of providing 1) a production high-capability resource for science and engineering; and 2) a system for scientific and engineering evaluation that will inform the design of a Phase 2 leadership-class system.

The present solicitation requests proposals for the acquisition and operation of a Phase 1 system as well as a project plan for the design of a potential upgrade or replacement to a leadership-class computing facility at the end of the five-year deployment period, subject to the availability of funds.

The selected applications to demonstrate the utility of the proposed Phase 1 system should encompass the following three categories:

  1. The Sustained Petascale Performance (SPP) benchmark, representing part of the current Blue Waters workload profile. Proposers must include the application benchmarks in the suite, or provide justification if an application is not used. SPP time-to-solution numbers on the current Blue Waters system are provided by the SPP benchmark documentation and will not need to be reproduced. The use of the aggregate SPP metric is not required. Benchmark results or projections must be provided for all applications and for all data sets.
  2. Additional applications over the current Blue Waters workload profile as needed by the proposing team to make the case for the Phase 1 system. Time-to-solution numbers for these applications will need to be obtained through Blue Waters runs or, if not feasible, analytically.
  3. Anticipated future innovative applications and workflows as needed to make the case for the proposed Phase 1 system. Where possible, and if appropriate, the motivation for using an innovative application may be substantiated by analyzed trends obtained from the current Blue Waters workload profile. Time-to-solution numbers for these applications will need to be obtained through Blue Waters runs or, if not feasible, analytically.

Visit our Institutionally Limited Submission webpage for updates and other announcements.