The national research cyberinfrastructure (CI) ecosystem is essential to computational- and data-intensive research and plays a critical role in ensuring U.S. leadership, economic competitiveness and national security.

Advancing Innovation with ACCESS

The National Science Foundation, through the Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure, has published a vision that calls for the broad availability and innovative use of an agile, integrated, robust, trustworthy and sustainable CI ecosystem that can drive new thinking and transformative discoveries in all areas of science and engineering research and education. ACCESS builds upon the successes of the 11-year XSEDE project, while also expanding the ecosystem with capabilities for new modes of research and further democratizing participation.

What is ACCESS?

ACCESS is a program established and funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to help researchers and educators utilize the nation’s advanced computing systems and services. Almost any computer application that requires more than a desktop or laptop could qualify as needing an advanced computing system. Examples include supercomputer applications, AI and machine learning, big data analysis and storage, and others.

ACCESS is an acronym that stands for “Advanced Cyberinfrastructure Coordination Ecosystem: Services & Support.” NSF awarded $52 million over five years to five lead institutions and their sub-awardees to facilitate the ACCESS program. You can find out more about how ACCESS is organized here.

What resources and services are available through ACCESS?

ACCESS provides a wide range of resources and services:

  • Systems ranging from supercomputers to smaller specialized compute clusters, each with a different focus and unique set of capabilities 
  • Data and storage services
  • Expertise to help you make effective use of resources, remove barriers, and achieve your goals
  • Scientific applications
  • Science gateways 
  • Resources to use in your class
  • Training and workshops
  • Helpdesk services from ACCESS and the resource providers
  • Connecting with communities that share your interests and learn from one another
Who’s eligible to use ACCESS?

ACCESS comprises a wide range of services and resources. These resources are available to U.S. researchers, educators, students, and international collaborators in accordance with NSF and ACCESS policies. Find out more about eligibility.

Researchers from U.S. commercial organizations are also eligible for ACCESS allocations, provided they adhere to the appropriate allocations policies governing for-profit organizations.

Do I have to be an expert in supercomputing to use ACCESS?

Absolutely not. ACCESS has a wide range of support capabilities to help get you going. The “Advanced” in ACCESS is relative to what is currently available to you. For some, this may mean a computing resource bigger than their laptop or access to a piece of software that runs on a computer they need but can’t get from their campus. For others, it might mean getting access to a supercomputer to run simulations they can’t run on their campus cluster, while for others, it may mean a training class that’s not available anywhere else.

What are some examples of what I can do with ACCESS?

There’s a wide range of ways ACCESS is being used:

  • Getting access to expertise from someone who can help scale an application beyond the limits of a laptop, desktop or a campus computing cluster
  • Learning about best practices in the development of scientific software
  • Exploring the use of GPUs for machine learning as part of research in digital humanities
  • Becoming familiar with approaches to code optimization
  • Using supercomputing resources as part of teaching an introductory community college class in data science
  • Finding opportunities for students to engage in undergraduate research experiences
  • Helping your company explore new technologies and methods in research
  • Becoming part of the community that gives back by participating in online support forums, advisory boards and other groups
How much does it cost?

Nothing. ACCESS resources and services are free, with the exception of some resources that are offered to companies on a fee basis. Also, the MATCH Premier service can help you find expert consultants for more extensive engagements that would be funded by your project.

Are there limits on the size of a computation I can run on ACCESS?

Yes, there are limits.  Before you can run a computation, you must specify how big a computation you plan to run. You cannot run your computation until your request has been granted.  These requests are called “Allocation Requests”.

Do I need to be funded by a supporting grant, the NSF or another federal agency to use ACCESS?

No. Funding is not a criteria for using ACCESS. Funding may be considered when evaluating requests for compute time on highly competitive resources.

What is a Resource Provider?

You might see the term “Resource Provider” (RP for short), which is how ACCESS refers to the organizations that provide compute or storage resources. The majority of the computational resources provided via ACCESS, including computing and data systems, software, training classes, and others, are operated under separate agreements between the National Science Foundation and other institutions. ACCESS is your gateway to gaining access to and getting support for these resources.

I’d like more information before I decide if ACCESS is right for me? Where can I find additional details?

Here are a few resources you might find useful.

  • The ACCESS YouTube channel has several introductory videos that go into detail about the various aspects of ACCESS.
  • See if your institution has a Campus Champion. Campus Champions are familiar with the ACCESS program and offer basic guidance in getting started. 
  • Sign up for the ACCESS newsletter so you can read about some of the great work being enabled via ACCESS and stay up to date about upcoming events and opportunities. https://access-ci.org (bottom of the page)
  • Follow us on social media – the links are at the bottom of this page.
  • Check out the many training opportunities available via ACCESS and the community.
  • You’re also welcome to drop us a note through our general inquiry form: https://access-ci.org/contact/  
  • See who’s using ACCESS right now.
  • View publicly available CPU stats about ACCESS projects.
  • Read ACCESS news stories.
How do I mention in my funding proposal submission that I plan on using ACCESS resources?

Every proposal is different, but language similar to the following is representative of what you might include:

“This project requires cyberinfrastructure resources to carry out the proposed work. We intend to request computational resources through the NSF-funded ACCESS program, including taking advantage of the Explore allocation tier, which will give us early access to resources in anticipation of preparing larger request(s)”.

I think I’m ready to get started with ACCESS resources. What are the next steps?

The process is relatively easy and you can always get help along the way. Visit our Get Started page.