An organization may submit only one proposal but may be a subawardee 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 (PAPPG Chapter II.E.3.a). The involvement of partner organizations should be supported through subawards administered by the submitting organization.
These eligibility constraints will be strictly enforced in order to treat everyone fairly and consistently. In the event that an organization exceeds this limit, the proposal received within the limit will be accepted based on the earliest date and time of proposal submission (i.e., the first proposal received will be accepted and the remainder will be returned without review).
Internal Deadline: Friday, August 2, 2024, 5pm PT
LOI: Not required.
External Deadline: October 29, 2024 for Category 1
Recurring Deadlines: October 28, 2025 for Category II
Award Type: Cooperative Agreement
Estimated Number of Awards: 1 to 4
Anticipated Award Amount: $30,000,000
Who May Serve as PI:
Proposals may only be submitted by the following:
- Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) – Two- and four-year IHEs (including community colleges) accredited in, and having a campus located in the US, acting on behalf of their faculty members. Special Instructions for International Branch Campuses of US IHEs: If the proposal includes funding to be provided to an international branch campus of a US institution of higher education (including through use of subawards and consultant arrangements), the proposer must explain the benefit(s) to the project of performance at the international branch campus, and justify why the project activities cannot be performed at the US campus.
- Non-profit, non-academic organizations: Independent museums, observatories, research labs, professional societies and similar organizations in the U.S. associated with educational or research activities.
- NSF-sponsored federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs) may apply, provided that they are not including costs for which federal funds have already been awarded or are expected to be awarded.
Link to Award: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2023/nsf23518/nsf23518.htm
Process for Limited Submissions
PIs must submit their application as a Limited Submission through the Research Initiatives and Infrastructure (RII) Application Portal: https://rii.usc.edu/oor-portal/. Use the template provided here: RII Limited Submission Applicant Template
Materials to submit include:
- (1) Two-Page Proposal Summary (0.5” margins; single-spaced; font type: Arial, Helvetica, or Georgia typeface; font size: 11 pt). Page limit includes references and illustrations. Pages that exceed the 2-page limit will be excluded from review. You must use the template linked above.
- (2) CV – (5 pages maximum)
Note: The portal requires information about the PIs in addition to department and contact information, including the 10-digit USC ID#, Gender, and Ethnicity. Please have this material prepared before beginning this application.
The intent of this solicitation is to request proposals from organizations willing to serve as resource providers (RPs) within the NSF ACSS program to provide advanced CI capabilities and/or services in production operation to support the full range of computational- and data-intensive research across all of S&E.
To increase the Nation’s capacity for transformative S&E discoveries, NSF is interested in continuing to diversify and evolve its portfolio to take advantage of new technologies and services that include capabilities addressing emerging computational- and data-intensive S&E research topics, workflows, and communities, while expanding opportunities for participation by a broader range of potential RPs.
This competition emphasizes the provisioning of an ecosystem of advanced computational resources and services that is responsive to the dramatic increase in the number and nature of applications using NSF-funded resources. Proposals are requested for advanced CI that will acquire and deploy capabilities and services, including composable services, to address the increase in demand for computation and data analytics resources in the S&E research community, as well as explore novel paradigms for enabling transformative S&E discoveries.
This solicitation explicitly focuses on the growing scale and diversity of the S&E community, the changing nature of S&E research requirements, as well as the rapidly evolving CI landscape; with the goal of supporting transformational S&E discoveries. Proposals are encouraged that emphasize broader impacts and broadening participation engagements for a proposed resource and its operation. Such activities may include (but are not limited to):
- democratizing access to computational and data resources for underrepresented communities as informed by the recent NSF-funded study “The Missing Millions”;
- increasing efforts toward expanding the Geography of Innovation (as described in the National Science Board’s Vision 2030 report)
- informing or otherwise contributing to national federated resource visioning efforts, such as the National Strategic Computing Reserve and the National AI Research Resource.
- providing access to scientific disciplines and communities traditionally underserved by CI resources and services through, for example, science gateways such as those enabled by the Center of Excellence to Extend Access, Expand the Community, and Exemplify Good Practices for CI Through Science Gateways (SGX3), and/or
- taking into consideration the full lifecycle environmental impact of the proposed resource or services in either category, including its acquisition, usage, and eventual disposal. [Note: this solicitation is not meant to fund core research on sustainability in computing. Proposers interested in proposing such research may refer to NSF 22-060 DCL: Design for Sustainability in Computing and submission to Computer and Information Science and Engineering: Core Programs]
An important aspect of the current solicitation is that funded projects must provide CI capabilities and/or services that demonstrate high degrees of stability and usability during the period of production operations available to the broad S&E community. NSF strongly urges the community to consider expanding the range of possibilities in enabling S&E communities to leverage the power of computation for transformative research, and to think broadly about the nature and composition of the CI ecosystem. Such consideration may include, but are not limited to, ease of access to proposed resources by new S&E communities including university campuses; new capabilities that will open up new methods and paradigms for S&E discoveries; federated approaches with opportunities for leveraging the increasing availability and capabilities at the network edge; and composable services provisioning virtualized on-premise computing infrastructure and commercial cloud services.
The current solicitation is intended to complement previous NSF investments in advanced computational infrastructure through provisioning resources in two categories as described below.
Category I – Capacity Resources
Resources proposed in this category are intended to be operational deployments of production computational resources that will provide maximum capacity and throughput to support the broad range of computation and data analytics needs in S&E research. The deployments are expected to adhere to a vision of an advanced computing ecosystem as a federated set of resources and services that are heterogeneous in architecture, resource type, and usage mode to collectively meet the Nation’s foundational needs for world-leading computing capabilities.
The proposed resource must be clearly motivated by the current and future demand for computational and data analytics capacity in the broad and diverse S&E research community. This category particularly targets capabilities and/or services for small- to mid-scale jobs (from one to a few thousand cores per job) across broad areas of S&E, including support for “long-tail science” applications, as well as new classes of applications, such as artificial intelligence/machine learning/deep learning applications.
Proposers are encouraged to explore novel models for future dynamic national cyberinfrastructure federation (such as those enabled by the PATh facility), including in compute resources, software, data, technical expertise, stakeholders, on-demand allocations, and resource provisioning mechanisms. The latter mechanisms can govern regional and/or campus supported resources, and/or commercial cloud services, enabling comprehensive and effective science-based response to a potential future national and/or international urgent need; or be available to fuel AI research and development opening opportunities for the next breakthroughs in science, engineering, and technology.
Competitive proposals in Category I must address the following requirements in the Project Description:
- A clear plan for provisioning a resource that addresses the current and future demand for computation and data analytics capacity in the broad S&E computational research community;
- A forward-looking plan for engagement with other NSF supported efforts in advanced CI where possible, such as domain-specific centers housing software, sensors, or instrument data that will enable new advances in S&E research;
- A persuasive articulation as to how the resource will support less traditional and/or underrepresented computational S&E communities if appropriate and how models of engagement with campus-supported CI will be explored;
- A description of how the resource will support S&E research communities that require a national-scale, on-demand, compute and data-analytics resource with a flexible and user-friendly software environment;
- A clear plan of operations for the project duration with a clear set of operational and science impact metrics to ensure the resource will be an asset for the nation’s S&E research community;
- A detailed risk-mitigated deployment plan to ensure that the proposed resource will be in production operations and available for allocation to the open S&E research community no later than 12 months from the time of award; and
- A comprehensive set of system-level performance and reliability metrics that will be used by NSF for acceptance of the resource or service.
Relevant parameters contributing to the comprehensive technical description of the proposed system may vary with the nature of the resource. However, all description of the proposed resource must closely adhere to the guidelines provided in section V.A. Proposal Preparation Instructions.
Category II – Innovative Prototypes/Testbeds
Resources proposed in this category will be initially deployed as a prototype/testbed supporting S&E research through delivery of novel forward-looking capabilities and services. Resources proposed in this category can represent the deployment of new technologies, system architectures, or usage modalities at scale, with plans for developing a national S&E user community that will benefit from the proposed capabilities. Proposed resources could encompass a broad range from enabling of advancements in traditional computing architectures and extending to emerging non von Neuman computing paradigms. The former could include novel processor architectures supporting artificial intelligence applications or integration of distributed systems leveraging edge devices; domain-specific architectures; reconfigurable and/or software defined systems; systems designed for streaming data and/or real-time processing, etc. The latter could apply aspects of neural and broader levels of non-neural biological organization architectures or implement collective properties of quantum states. Proposers are further encouraged to potentially explore novel facility scale electric power infrastructure, including models, leading to significant efficiencies in compute center and edge scale power utilization. Additionally, the solicitation incents efforts to explore and assess comprehensive and effective future options for science-based responses to a potential future national and/or international urgent need, as well as towards opportunities for future AI-enabled breakthroughs in science, engineering, and technology.
Proposers must clearly define the target classes of S&E applications that will be enabled, as well as a clear plan for ensuring the widespread adoptions by these classes of applications on the proposed capabilities and/or services. While the resources in this category may initially include prototypes/experimental testbeds, proposers are expected to present a clear near-term plan for transitioning to high-availability production services broadly available and allocable to the S&E community through open peer-reviewed processes during the final 24 months of the project award period. It is also expected that the initially-deployed prototype/testbed will include active engagements with S&E researchers, and these engagements will be reviewed by NSF in its evaluation of the system. Clear science impact metrics for measuring the performance of the proposed system are required.
Competitive proposals in Category II must address the following requirements in the Project Description:
- A clear plan for provisioning innovative computational and data analysis capabilities or services that will enable new methods and paradigms in support of transformational S&E discoveries;
- A compelling description of how the proposed capabilities or services will address future demand for computation and data analytics capabilities in S&E research;
- A persuasive set of S&E use cases, including quantitative analysis through benchmarks, that clearly motivate how the resource will expand the range of S&E applications that can be currently tackled using existing ACSS resources;
- A forward-looking plan for engagement where appropriate with other NSF-supported efforts in advanced CI, such as with domain-specific centers housing software, sensors, or instrument data, to enable new advances in S&E research;
- A clearly defined set of target S&E application classes that will be enabled, as well as a clear plan for ensuring the widespread adoption by these classes of applications on the proposed capabilities and/or services;
- A clear plan of operations for the project duration, with a detailed set of engagement activities with the S&E research community, to optimize the use of the resource, facilitate application and user transition during the initially-deployed prototype/testbed system phase, and ensure that the resource evolves to a high-availability production utility for a national community of S&E users;
- A detailed risk-mitigated deployment plan to ensure that the proposed resource will evolve to high-availability production services broadly available for allocation to the open S&E research community in the final 24 months of the award period; and
- A comprehensive set of system-level performance and reliability metrics that will be used by NSF for acceptance of the resource or service.
Project duration for both categories will depend on the nature of the resource to be deployed. Resources may be deployed in one step near the beginning of the award period, or progressively in a series of steps or phases during the award period.
Awards anticipate that at least 90% of the provisioned system or services will be available to the S&E community once in production. Allocation of resources will be assigned through an open peer-reviewed national allocation process and be supported by community and other support services [such as those currently supported through “Advanced Cyberinfrastructure Coordination Ecosystem: Services & Support” (ACCESS) Program and other related coordination services], or an NSF-approved alternative that may emerge. If this is not feasible for the proposed system/services, proposers must clearly explain in detail why this is the case and how they intend to make the proposed system/services available to the national S&E community.
Detailed information on the proposal format is provided in Section V. Proposal Preparation and Submission Instructions.
Proposals to this competition should provide an analysis of the projected annual user support and operating costs of the proposed resource for a period of up to five years. User support and operating costs are expected to be up to 20% of the total acquisition cost per year for each deployed Category I or Category II resource. Should the proposed resource require additional user and operating funds, an additional 5% may be requested along with very strong justification for the request. Awardees funded by this solicitation may subsequently receive these costs via a proposed supplemental funding request.
Visit our Institutionally Limited Submission webpage for more updates and other announcements.