HPC costs on grant applications

This paper provides advice to research finance managers and PIs applying for grants for the inclusion of costs for access to High performance computing (HPC) facilities.

Introduction

1.    The University of Leeds has a strong, centrally provided and managed high performance computing (HPC) facility available for research across the institution. All faculties are stakeholders, funding a percentage share of the costs. Income for HPC is primarily provided via the indirect/estates rates levied on fEC grants, however a funding shortfall exists since not all funding streams recognise this charge. In particular circumstances however, the applicant (PI/Research finance manager) may be able to secure additional funding through HPC use, to assist the Faculty address its shortfall.

Research council grants

2.    Since HPC costs are included in the indirect/estates rates, no further charges can be incorporated in applications to funding bodies that pay these rates unless additional resources to those covered by these rates are required by the project (see items 4-6 below).

3.    Research council grant applications requiring usage of the University HPC facility should include a phrase such as the following to reflect the HPC funding model in the justification of resources section of the grant proposal:

At Leeds there is a strong centrally provided and managed high performance computing facility, fully funded via the indirect cost and estates elements of the grant. Consequently there is no direct cost associated with access to high performance computing included in this proposal.

4.    Should a project have a requirement for a substantial increase in capacity, upgraded capability or exclusive access to the resources akin to that offered by a separate facility the cost of additional equipment may be levied on the grant. Advice on configuration should be sought from ISS for the inclusion of additional equipment to ensure compatibility. Access to the additional equipment will be controlled from within software to meet the requirements of the project, however any spare capacity may be offered for use by other projects.

5.    Grant applications including additional equipment, should highlight the value of integrating the equipment into an existing facility, e.g. through the following phrase:

This equipment will be housed in an existing centrally provided and managed high performance computing facility with associated support costs funded through the indirect cost element of the grant.

6.    Following award, the specification of goods will be finalised and an order placed through ISS with its HPC framework suppliers. Upon receipt of goods an invoice for those goods will be passed to the faculty for internal re-charge.

EU grants

7.    Whilst the flat-overhead model operates, a similar approach to research council grants (above) should be adopted for HPC costs on the proposal. This would be reconsidered should EU grants adopt a TRACs-like funding model in the future.

Charities and Industries

8.    Applications to charities and industries should follow the guidance contained inFacility Charges on Research Grants, issued by Research Support in April 2008.

Charities

9.    As charities do not recognise the indirect/estates element of a grant, usage of the facility should be costed as if it were a Non-classified Facility. This rate incorporates all aspects of HPC provision, including capital depreciation, support and running costs (including power) allowing for an appropriate level of utilisation and downtime.

10.  The current advice is to cost usage on the basis of 5 pence per CPU core hour, reviewed on an annual basis effective from 1st February. Assistance with the costing of the computational requirements of a proposal is available from ISS if required.

11.  An application may alter the price it charges for HPC usage from the derived cost, should the Faculty wish to subsidise  HPC-income. The Faculty Dean should agree any such variations.

12.  Following award, income associated with HPC access will be transferred from the grant to the relevant school account via monthly journal  to contribute towards its HPC stakeholder charges. The Faculty Research Office (FRO) will be responsible for setting up the journals. Should additional resource be required in order to meet the demands of the project, the Faculty will pass funds to ISS in order to purchase the additional equipment required.

Industrial use

13.  Applications to industrial bodies should be costed as per any other research grant by including the appropriate indirect/estates rates. Applicants should also consider costing the unit of use rate applicable to charities and/or seeking a contribution towards capital costs wherever possible. Where HPC costs are costed in addition to indirect/estates rates, applications should follow the surplus costing and pricing model.

14.  Following award, income explicitly associated with HPC access will be  transferred annually to the relevant school account by the FRO.

Research postgraduates

15.  For Research council studentships, there is no mechanism to leverage funding towards HPC costs, since in these cases the Research Council’s do not pay the indirect/estates rate. Applications for non-Research Council studentships are strongly encouraged to levy the Charity or Industrial rates applicable towards HPC costs.

Alan Real, Peter Jimack
15th March 2010

Amended 12th May 2010
Lorraine Bate, Research Support, Faculty of Environemnet