NSF Selects TACC Supercomputers for National AI Research Resource Pilot

    The Frontera (left) and Lonestar6 (right) supercomputers at the Texas Advanced Computing Center at The University of Texas at Austin.

    The Texas Advanced Computing Center’s (TACC) Frontera and Lonestar6 supercomputers are among six national supercomputers chosen to participate in a pilot to support novel and transformative AI research and education at a national scale.

    The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and collaborating agencies launched the National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource (NAIRR) pilot. It is a first step towards a research infrastructure shared nationally that will strengthen and democratize access to critical resources necessary to power responsible AI discovery and innovation.     

    The new pilot gives U.S.-based researchers, educators, and students unique access to a variety of tools, data, and support to explore AI technology.

    On January 24, 2024, the U.S. National Science Foundation and collaborating agencies launched the National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource (NAIRR) pilot.

    "By investing in AI research through the NAIRR pilot, the United States unleashes discovery and impact and bolsters its global competitiveness,” said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. 

    “To continue leading in AI research and development, we must create opportunities across the country to advance AI innovation and strengthen educational opportunities, empowering the nation to shape international standards and igniting economic growth. NSF is proud to lead this effort with our current and future partners," Panchanathan added.

    The NSF plans to achieve this by providing wide access to secure high-performance, privacy-preserving computing; high-quality datasets; catalogs of testbeds and educational materials; and training tools and user support mechanisms.

    The pilot includes the following select group of six AI computing resources, which includes resource providers from NSF’s ACCESS program:

    • Frontera and Lonestar6, Texas Advanced Computing Center
    • Neocortex, Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center
    • Delta and Delta AI, National Center for Supercomputing Applications
    • Summit, DOE Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility
    • ALCF AI Testbed, DOE Argonne Leadership Computing Facility

    “We welcome new AI users into TACC and are thrilled to make these resources available as part of NAIRR to spur innovation, increase the diversity of talent, and improve capacity,” said Dan Stanzione, executive director of TACC and associate vice president for research at The University of Texas at Austin.

    Dan Stanzione, Executive Director, TACC and Associate Vice President for Research, UT Austin

    “We have been a leading NSF resource provider for many years and have some of the largest modern GPU-based AI resources that are available in academia. The nation can look forward to future purposed AI resources from TACC as part of the NSF and UT Austin’s investments in AI.”

    The users of NAIRR fall into three primary categories: (1) researchers conducting AI research; (2) educators incorporating AI tools and training resources into learning environments; and (3) students learning about AI.

    The pilot is divided into four focus areas: “NAIRR Open,” which will provide access to resources for AI research on the pilot’s portal; “NAIRR Secure,” an AI privacy- and security-focused component co-led by DOE and the National Institutes of Health; “NAIRR Software,” which will facilitate and explore the interoperable use of pilot resources; and “NAIRR Classroom,” which focuses on education, training, user support, and outreach.

    Future goals for the NAIRR Pilot will include new computing resources, expanded datasets, improved models for generating AI output, and new software, among other AI tools.

    The NAIRR Allocations team is now accepting open proposals from research scientists, as well as input through a potential use-case survey. For more information, visit the NAIRR pilot program website.