Category II: A Prototype National Research Platform

Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure (OAC)
Initial Amendment Date: June 24, 2021
Latest Amendment Date: August 18, 2022
Award Number: 2112167
Award Instrument: Cooperative Agreement
Program Manager: Robert Chadduck
 Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure (OAC)
 Direct For Computer & Info Scie & Enginr
Start Date: July 1, 2021
End Date: June 30, 2026 (Estimated)
Total Intended Award Amount: $5,000,000.00
Total Awarded Amount to Date: $12,249,999.00
Funds Obligated to Date: FY 2021 = $5,999,999.00
FY 2022 = $6,250,000.00
History of Investigator:
  • Frank Wuerthwein (Principal Investigator)
  • Tajana Rosing (Co-Principal Investigator)
  • Thomas DeFanti (Co-Principal Investigator)
  • Mahidhar Tatineni (Co-Principal Investigator)
  • Derek Weitzel (Co-Principal Investigator)
Recipient Sponsored Research Office: University of California-San Diego
CA  US  92093-0021
Sponsor Congressional District: 50
Primary Place of Performance: University of California-San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla
CA  US  92093-0934
Primary Place of Performance
Congressional District:
Unique Entity Identifier (UEI): UYTTZT6G9DT1
Parent UEI:
NSF Program(s): Innovative HPC
Primary Program Source:  
Program Reference Code(s):
Program Element Code(s): 7619
Award Agency Code: 4900
Fund Agency Code: 4900
Assistance Listing Number(s): 47.070


Advances in data-intensive science and engineering research, supported by ongoing developments in cyberinfrastructure, enable new insights and discoveries. Among these are progress in understanding fundamental processes and mechanisms from human public health to the health of the planet; predicting and responding to natural disasters; and promoting the increasing interconnectedness of science and engineering across many fields, including in astronomy, extreme-scale systems management, cell biology, high energy physics, social science, and satellite image analyses. Fundamentally new system architectures are required to accelerate such advances, including capabilities that integrate diverse computing and data resources, research and education networks, edge computing devices, and scientific instruments into highly usable and flexible distributed systems. Such systems provide both technological platforms for conducting research, and can catalyze distributed and multidisciplinary teams, which are developing new and transformative approaches to addressing disciplinary and multidisciplinary research problems.

Recent reports, informed through community visioning, including the NSF supported report “Transforming Science Through Cyberinfrastructure”, note that a cyberinfrastructure (CI) ecosystem designed to be open and scalable, and to grow with time may advance through in kind contributions of compute and data resources by the national science and education community. This CI ecosystem may be viewed, “more holistically as a spectrum of computational, data, software, networking, and security resources, tool and services, and computational and data skills and expertise that can be seamlessly integrated and used, and collectively enable new, transformative discoveries across S&E [science and education]”.

Aligned with this vision of a national scale CI ecosystem, the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), in association with partners at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln (UNL) and the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center (MGHPCC), will deploy the “Prototype National Research Platform” (NRP). This novel, national scale, distributed testbed architecture includes: a high performance subsystem to be deployed at SDSC that integrates advanced processors to be available in association with extremely low latency national Research and Educational (R&E) networks operating at multiple 100Gbps speeds; additional highly optimized subsystems each constituting 288 Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) to be deployed at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln (UNL) and the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center (MGHPCC), to be also interconnected to the R&E networks at 100Gbps speeds at each location; a minimum of additional 1 PB of high performance disk storage to be deployed at each of the three sites to establish a Content Delivery Network (CDN) providing prototype caliber access to data anywhere in the nation within a round trip time (RTT) of ~10ms to be available through a set of eight optimally positioned 50TB Non Volatile Memory (NVMe)-based network caches; and an innovative system software environment enabling both centralized management of the nationally distributed testbed system. Additionally, the system architecture will remain open to future growth through additional integration of capabilities to be achieved through a novel “bring your own resource” program.

The project is structured as a three-year testbed phase, followed by a two-year allocations phase. During the testbed phase, SDSC researchers, working closely with collaborators at UNL and MGHPCC, as well as with small numbers of research teams, will evaluate the NRP architecture and performance of constituent components. Semiannual workshops will bring teams together to share lessons learned, develop the knowledge and best practices to inform researchers, and explore the innovative architecture to accelerate S&E discoveries from ideas to publications. During the allocations phase, NRP will be available to researchers with projects deemed meritorious by an NSF-approved allocation process. Workshops continue through the allocations phase.