Request for Information (RFI) on Science Drivers Requiring Capable Exascale High Performance Computing

Notice Number: NOT-GM-15-122

Key Dates
Release Date:   September 15, 2015

Related Announcements

Issued by
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)


This is a multi-agency request for information to identify scientific research topics and applications that need High Performance Computing (HPC) capabilities that extend 100 times beyond today’s performance on scientific applications. Currently, computational modeling, simulation, as well as data assimilation and data analytics are used by an increasing number of researchers to answer more complex multispatial, multiphysics scientific questions with more realism. As the scientific discovery horizon expands and as advances in high performance computing become central to scientific workflows, sustained petascale application performance will be insufficient to meet these needs. In addition, HPC is expanding from traditional numerically oriented computation to also include large-scale analytics (e.g., for Bayesian approaches in model refinement, large-scale image analysis, machine learning, decision support, and quantifying uncertainty in multimodal and multi spatial analyses). Architectures and technologies used for modeling and simulation currently differ from those used for data integration and analytics, but are increasingly converging. The extreme computing ecosystem must therefore accommodate this broad spectrum of growing data science activities.


The White House Executive Order, July 29, 2015, establishes the National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI) as a whole-of-government effort designed to create a cohesive, multi-agency strategic vision and Federal investment strategy, executed in collaboration with industry and academia, to maximize the benefits of HPC for the United States. The Department of Energy (DOE), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Department of Defense (DOD) are the lead agencies for this effort to support a significantly advanced HPC ecosystem within the next decade.   One of the objectives of the initiative is to deliver “capable Exascale” computing capability that delivers 100 times today's application performance.

This is a request for information from NSF, DOE, and NIH for community input identifying scientific research that would benefit from a greatly enhanced new generation of HPC far beyond what can be done using current technologies and architectures. This information will be used to assist agencies to construct a roadmap, build an exascale-capable ecosystem required to support scientific research, and inform the research, engineering and development process. It is likely that a range of advanced capabilities will need to be developed to respond to the varied computing needs across science disciplines.

We seek responses for applications in subfields of life (e.g., biological, social, health and biomedical) sciences, mathematical and physical sciences, geosciences, energy science, and engineering research.  We seek not only traditional areas of numerical intensity such as simulations of nuclear physics, biomolecular physics, weather and climate modeling, and materials science, but also any areas that rely on deriving fundamental understanding from large scale analytics that would require a 100-fold increase over today’s application performance.

Information Requested

With respect to your field of expertise in traditional and non-traditional research areas in applications of HPC, agencies request your input/feedback. Your comments can include but are not limited to the following areas of concern:

  • The specific scientific and research challenges that would need the projected 100-fold increase in application performance over what is possible today. 
  • The potential impact of the research to the scientific community, national economy, and society.  
  • The specific limitations/barriers of existing HPC systems must overcome to perform studies in this area.  Your comment can also include the level of performance on current architectures, and the projected increase in performance that is needed from future architectures.
  • Any related research areas you foresee that would benefit from this level of augmented computational capability. Identification of any barriers in addition to computational capability that impact the proposed research can also be considered.
  • Important computational and technical parameters of the problem as you expect them to be in 10 years (2025).  In addition to any specialized or unique computational capabilities that are required and/or need to be scaled up for addressing this scientific problem, e.g., in the areas of computing architectures, systems software and hardware, software applications, algorithm development, communications, and networking.
  • Alternative models of deployment and resource accessibility arising out of exascale computing. Improvements in scientific workflow as well as particular requirements that may be needed by specific domains.
  • Capabilities needed by the end-to-end system, including data requirements such as data analytics and visualization tools, shared data capabilities, and data services which includes databases, portals and data transfer tools/nodes.
  • Foundational issues that need to be addressed such as training, workforce development or collaborative environments.
  • Other areas of relevance for the Agencies to consider.

Submitting a Response

All responses must be submitted to by October 16, 2015.  All comments must be submitted via E-mail as text or as an attached electronic document.  Microsoft Word documents are preferred.   Please try and limit your response to two pages total.

This RFI is for planning purposes only and should not be construed as a solicitation for applications or an obligation on the part of the government. The government will not pay for the preparation of any information submitted or for the government’s use of that information.

The agencies will use the information submitted in response to this RFI at their discretion and will not provide comments to any responder's submission. Responses to the RFI may be reflected in future funding opportunity announcements. The information provided will be analyzed, may appear in reports, and may be shared publicly on agency websites. Respondents are advised that the government is under no obligation to acknowledge receipt of the information or provide feedback to respondents with respect to any information submitted. No proprietary, classified, confidential, or sensitive information should be included in your response. The government reserves the right to use any non-proprietary technical information in any resultant solicitation(s), policies or procedures.


Please direct all inquiries to:

Susan Gregurick, Ph.D.
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
National Institutes of Health
Telephone: 301-451-6446

William L. Miller, Ph.D.
Division of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure
Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering
National Science Foundation
Telephone: 703-292-7886

Barbara Helland
Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR)
Department of Energy
Telephone: 301-903-9958