Top Changes You Need to Know About the 2017 RAC

There have been a number of changes to our Resource Allocation Competition (RAC) this year. Some of these are a direct result of community consultation, some are normal year-to-year administrative improvements, and some are related to our renewal of the national ARC platform.

We’ve highlighted below some of the key things you need to know about RAC 2017.

Table of Contents

Terminology Cleanup

There are a number of terms used in describing the RAC process which were not well-defined and therefore caused confusion. View our Technical Glossary for more terminology definitions.

  • Resource Allocation Competitions (RAC): The term RAC now refers to Resource Allocation Competitions, which includes all of the competitions we run each year. Previously, it referred both to this inclusive set of competitions and to the exclusive competition for individual faculty PIs. The competition for individual faculty PIs is now called the Resources for Research Groups (RRG) Competition.
  • RPP Notice of Intent (NOI): Previously called the Letter of Intent (LOI). Applications are only evaluated against the eligibility criteria to ensure alignment with the RPP competition rules and to ensure that Compute Canada can prepare for the number of expected RPP applications.
  • Resources for Research Groups (RRG) Competition:This was previously referred to as the Resource Allocation Competition (RAC). This competition is targeted at applications from individuals or small groups of researchers in need of additional compute or storage resources. Allocations are awarded based on the quality of the science, quality of the research team, and development of highly qualified personnel (HQP).
  • Rapid Access Service (RAS): Upon creating an account with Compute Canada, all users have access to modest quantities of compute, storage and cloud resources on all CC systems. RAS allows users to experiment and to start working right away. Many research groups can meet their needs through RAS only. However unlike RAC, RAS is not a guaranteed allocation but a shared pool of unallocated resources. These resources are available for Opportunistic Use (formerly called “default allocation”).

How do I access Compute Canada resources?

Do I need to apply for a Resource Allocation Competition (RAC)?

RAC vs RAS decision chart - John no quoitas

Research Platforms and Portals (RPP) Competition

RPP Application Streams

One of the major recommendations we received last year was to categorize requests by size (e.g., small, medium, large) with large requests requiring more work and more scrutiny than small requests. This is being implemented for the RPP competition in 2017 at the NOI stage when you are asked to indicated whether your proposal is for a Portal or Platform.

  • Service Portal: A research web portal providing datasets or tools to a broad research community. Portals generally do not require large computing or storage resources, but may require support effort by the Compute Canada technical team. Groups applying for a service portal often use the Compute Canada Cloud, generally require a static IP address, and may (or may not) have more stringent up-time requirements than most research projects. This option is shown as “Portal” in the online NOI form.
  • Compute and Storage Platform: Platforms usually provide significant compute and storage resources to a community of users. This may include a user-friendly front-end that submits traditional batch jobs on the back-end. Please note: Any proposal requiring at least 50 core years (or 50 VCPUs in the cloud) OR more than 50 TB of storage is considered to be a Compute and Storage Platform. This option is shown as “Platform” in the online form.

Generally speaking, Platforms consume much larger physical resources than Service Portals and as such, they will be subjected to more rigorous review.

Examples of projects classified as Portals vs Platforms are given on our RPP case studies page.

RPP Application Process and Deadlines

All RPP NOIs (previously LOIs) and Full Applications must be submitted via the Compute Canada DataBase (CCDB). Please note that the NOI stage is not competitiveMore comprehensive instructions of how to apply are included in the RPP Competition page on our website.

Key RPP Dates and Important Deadlines:

  • CCDB open for RPP NOI submissions – September 1, 2016
  • NOI submission deadline – September 22, 2016
  • NOI results sent to all applicants – by October 5, 2016
  • CCDB open for RPP Full Applications – October 11, 2016
  • RPP Full Applications deadline – November 24, 2016
  • CCDB open for past RPP recipients’ Progress Report – December 2016
  • 2016 RPP Progress Reports due – January 5, 2017

Need more information?
If you have additional questions or are unsure about your eligibility for this competition, please refer to the RPP Competition Guide, the RAC FAQ or email our RAC team.

Resources for Research Groups (RRG) Competition

RRG Application Streams

Depending on your request, your RRG application will fall into one of the two streams below:

  • Regular:
    • Compute between 50-1999 Core Years
    • Storage between 10-999 TBs
    • GPUs between 10-199 GPU years
    • Cloud Compute between 80-499 VCPUs
    • Persistent Cloud between 10-99 VCPUs
  • Large:
    • exceeds at least one of the resource limits for Regular as defined above

If you require resources which are less than the lower bound on the Regular Stream, you should make use of Compute Canada’s Rapid Access Service and do not need to submit an RRG request.

The purpose of streaming is to reduce the documentation required and the complexity of the corresponding evaluation process for the Regular Stream relative to the Large Stream. Differences in the required documentation are outlined here. Differences in the evaluation process are described in the table below:

RegularAt least 2 peer review and 1 tech review.Discussed in disciplinary committee to determine final science score.
LargeAt least 3 peer reviews and 1 tech review. One of the peer reviews may be external/international.Discussed in disciplinary committee to determine final science score.Discussed at the multidisciplinary face-to-face meeting of RAC chairs to determine final allocation.

RRG Application Process and Deadlines

All RRG applications must be submitted via the Compute Canada DataBase (CCDB). More comprehensive instructions of how to apply are included in the RRG Competition Guide.

Key RRG Dates and Important Deadlines:

  • CCDB open for RRG Applications – October 11, 2016
  • RRG Applications deadline – November 24, 2016

Need more information?
If you have additional questions or are unsure about your eligibility for this competition, please refer to the RRG Competition Guide, the RAC FAQ or email our RAC team.