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Information für die Wissenschaft Nr. 3 | 7. Januar 2020
Admission of Computing Centres to the NHR Alliance

In 2018, within the framework of the “Ausführungsvereinbarung Forschungsbauten, Großgeräte und Nationales Hochleistungsrechnen” (AV-FGH), the Federal Government and the States of Germany adopted a programme at the Joint Science Conference (GWK) to promote National High-Performance Computing (Nationales Hochleistungsrechnen, NHR) at German universities. To this end, suitable computing centres (NHR Centres) with complementary profiles are invited to merge and to form the NHR Alliance.

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has agreed to launch a respective call and to review applications in order to identify suitable sites for NHR Centres based on general guidelines. The NHR Strategy Committee, established in 2019 by the GWK, developed these guidelines for the selection process for admission to the NHR Alliance. The GWK recently adopted the guidelines. In compliance with the regulations laid down in the AV-FGH, this call therefore invites the submission of proposals for a NHR Centre for admission to the NHR Alliance.

The NHR Alliance shall provide resources and nationwide services with respect to scientific computing and thus meet the universities’ nationwide need for high-performance computing (Tier 2 HPC systems). For this purpose, the Federal Government and the States of Germany will provide up to €62.5 million per year for investments (new hardware procurement) and the operation of the NHR Centres, including scientific services, as well as for the costs of the NHR Alliance.

The aims of the programme are in detail:

  • the nationwide and needs-based provision of high-performance computing capacities for scientific research at universities
  • the promotion of trans regional and interdisciplinary collaborations and cooperation in a joint coordinated structure that is open for use throughout Germany
  • to strengthen the methodological competence of users, to promote young scientists, and to provide initial and continuing training in scientific computing
  • the promotion and further development of scientific computing

NHR Centres

Proposals under this call concern the establishment of an NHR Centre. Funding can be provided to Tier 2 HPC centres. An NHR Centre may comprise multiple sites when a joint application as one consortium is planned.

The NHR Centres will respectively establish nationwide services along the objectives of the programme. They outline their scientific fields of competence (application competence, algorithmic and HPC methodological competence, competence for the efficient use of hardware), with whom they will contribute to a nationwide service throughout Germany. The proposals explain the potential contribution to the NHR Alliance and derive the required resources (computer architecture, personnel for operation and consulting, energy costs) based on the envisaged services.

NHR Alliance

The NHR Centres will form a coordinated network, the NHR Alliance. Proposals for a NHR Centre must therefore declare their willingness to participate in the future NHR Alliance and should include suggestions on how the activities of the NHR Alliance could be coordinated and continually developed.

Requirements for a Proposal

Eligible are: computing centres at state and non-governmental institutionally accredited universities, computing centres supported by consortia of such universities, and computing centres fulfilling the role of a university institution on a permanent basis. Existing infrastructure, i.e. the operation of existing computer buildings and computer systems, can be incorporated into to the NHR Centre.

Funding Period

The funding period is generally ten years. Further funding is possible.

Type of Funding

Resources are available from the time of admission as an NHR Centre. Funding for investments will be released based on the overall financial plan of the NHR Alliance after approval by the GWK.

Operating costs (in particular maintenance costs for software and hardware, energy costs, personnel costs for system administration and user consulting, overheads) are eligible for funding to the degree that they originate from taking over tasks within the NHR.

Investments include the initial/replacement purchase of computing equipment, as well as special measures required directly and specifically for its connection/operation. This includes measures to upgrade the building infrastructure (e.g. air conditioning, energy supply, fire protection), but not the construction or renovation of the building itself.

Dates and Deadlines

All interested computing centres must submit a binding Letter of Intent via the respective state of residence by e-mail to the DFG by 14 February 2020, in accordance with the provided template (see below). The submission of a Letter of Intent is a prerequisite for the application.

The host institutions of the computing centres (universities) have to submit the proposals via the respective state of residence and to name a person responsible for the proposal. Proposals must be sent to the DFG (DFG, Wissenschaftliche Geräte und Informationstechnik, 53170 Bonn) by mail or as an electronic version via e-mail (nhr@dfg.de) or the DFG data exchange portal (requests to: nhr@dfg.de) by 17 April 2020. They have to comply with the instructions for submitting proposals (see below). The signed proposal must be accompanied by an identical electronic version as a pdf document on a suitable data carrier. In case of an electronic submission, the signed identical proposal must be handed in as soon as possible. The reviewing process is only based on the electronic version.

The documents submitted to the DFG will serve as application documents for all further procedures. Accordingly, the DFG will forward them to both, the NHR Strategy Committee and the GWK.

Evaluation Criteria

The DFG will ask an international peer review group to assess the suitability of all eligible sites as NHR Centres based on the following review criteria:

  • expertise of the applicant institution(s) – scientific and operational
    • scientific profile/experience of the persons significantly involved in the application with regard to relevant application, algorithmic, and HPC methodological competences
    • science-guided procedure for access
    • operational competence (technical and economic) in the field of high-performance computing
  • quality of the concepts for strengthening methodological competence of users experience with or concepts for the following aspects
    • further training and consulting on HPC-relevant topics
    • usage monitoring in order to be able to offer targeted advice
    • HPC consulting on frequently used application software
    • promotion of young scientists
  • fit into the NHR Alliance and future concept
    • justification for a multi-site NHR Centre if a centre is to consist of a consortium of several computing centres
    • concept for the further development and adaptation of the NHR Centre to new aspects of high-performance computing
  • adequacy of the requested resources and financial planning of the centre
    • personnel capacities for operation, consulting and training
    • the appropriateness of the proposed computer architecture
    • ratio of investment to operating costs

Further Steps

The DFG will communicate their reviewing result to the NHR Strategy Committee. It will subsequently assess the overall picture (resulting from the sites considered worthy of funding) with regard to the overarching requirements of the entire NHR Alliance. This includes in particular the consideration of the coverage of relevant competence areas and the financial planning resulting for the NHR Alliance.

Finally, the GWK decides on the admission of suitable sites to the NHR Alliance among all positively reviewed proposals. This is expected to take place towards the end of 2020. The funds will be provided directly by the Federal Government and the States of Germany.

Further Information

At 6 February 2020 from approx. 12 a.m. – 3 p.m., the DFG offers an information event. Persons interested in participating (max. two per intended proposal) are requested to register (informally by e-mail to Link auf E-Mailnhr@dfg.de) by 24 January 2020.

The Joint Science Conference (GWK) publishes information on tasks, structure and resolutions on its website:

The Implementation Agreement for Research Buildings, Large Scientific Instruments and National High-Performance Computing (Ausführungsvereinbarung Forschungsbauten, Großgeräte und Nationales Hochleistungsrechnen, AV-FGH) can be found at:

The NHR Strategy Committee is administratively supported by the NHR Head Office:

For detailed information on how to submit a proposal, the draft Letter of Intent and the proposal template please refer to:

Contact person at the DFG (questions on application and review):

Note:

This text is available at
Externer Linkwww.dfg.de/foerderung/info_wissenschaft/2020/info_wissenschaft_20_03
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