Guidance on access to PRACE machines for UK scientists.

The UK (via EPSRC, STFC and BBSRC) are now paying around £1M 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. ( )

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.

PRACE calls are advertised on the PRACE calls page