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National AI Researchers Have the Chance to Access San Diego Supercomputer Center Resources through NSF NAIRR Pilot

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The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Energy have announced the first 35 projects that will be supported with computational time through the National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource (NAIRR) Pilot, marking a significant milestone in fostering responsible AI research across the nation. The initial call for applicants was issued in January 2024.

Along with publicizing the news about the first projects, the NSF has opened the next opportunity for researchers and educators to apply for access to resources that support AI research. Such resources include advanced computing systems; cloud computing platforms; access to foundation models, software and privacy enhancing technology tools; collaborations to train models and education platforms—areas of strength for the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at UC San Diego, which is one of the providers for both research and education resources.

Other university resources included are the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign,  the Texas Advanced Computing Center at The University of Texas at Austin, and systems at Purdue University, Indiana University and Texas A&M University.

This opportunity also opens up cutting-edge resources contributed by the NAIRR Pilot's nongovernmental partners, including Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, NVIDIA, SambaNova Systems, Cerebras, OpenAI, Anthropic, Groq, EleutherAI, OpenMined, Hugging Face and Vocareum.

“We are excited about the breadth of contributions by SDSC to the second round of NAIRR Pilot resources, including Expanse and Voyager as compute resources, CloudBank to manage the AWS and Azure cloud credits and the Prototype National Research Platform (PNRP) as a NAIRR Classroom resource,” said SDSC Director Frank Würthwein. “We are very much looking forward to an exciting evolution of the NAIRR Pilot program as all of these new diverse sets of resources are being added.”

With this second opportunity, the NSF seeks to connect educators and instructors in universities to computing, data and software resources that will enable them to train their students through hands-on projects and exercises. SDSC is one of presently only two providers for NAIRR Classroom resources. Researchers and educators can apply for access to these resources beginning today.

“Today marks a pivotal moment in the advancement of AI research as we announce the first round of NAIRR Pilot projects. The NAIRR Pilot, fueled by the need to advance responsible AI research and broaden access to cutting-edge resources needed for AI research, symbolizes a firm stride towards democratizing access to vital AI tools across the talented communities in all corners of our country,” said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. “While this is only the first step in our NAIRR efforts, we plan to rapidly expand our partnerships and secure the level of investments needed to realize the NAIRR vision and unlock the full potential of AI for the benefit of humanity and society.”

Projects granted computing allocations in the initial round encompass a diverse range of AI-related areas, including investigations into language model safety and security, privacy and federated models, and privacy-preserving synthetic data generation. Other projects also focus on domain-specific research, such as using AI and satellite imagery to map permafrost disturbances, developing a foundation model for aquatic sciences, securing medical imaging data, and using AI for agricultural pest identification.

“We look forward to integrating the NAIRR Pilot into the cloud credits distributed and managed by CloudBank,” said Shava Smallen, SDSC's co-principal investigator of CloudBank, a cloud access entity designed to simplify access to emerging computational resources through managed services. “It significantly expands the existing AI focus of what CloudBank provides to the community, and it diversifies the communities CloudBank serves beyond researchers with Computer and Information Science and Engineering NSF awards.”

The NAIRR Pilot embodies a commitment to diversity and collaboration, recognizing that the strength of the U.S. AI ecosystem depends on having a research and education community which reflects the diversity of our nation. By fostering a strong and responsible AI research ecosystem, the pilot aims to empower a wide range of perspectives and technical directions from researchers and educators from U.S. institutions, including those from underrepresented groups, nonprofits and small businesses. To learn more about the specific projects, please visit the NAIRR Pilot portal or

Learn more about research and education at UC San Diego in: Artificial Intelligence

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