Apply for access to compute services

Researchers can apply for limited amounts of computing time, data services, and support directly via SURF. This applies to cloud and cluster computing on HPC Cloud, Lisa, Cartesius Supercomputer, and Data Processing (Grid/Spider). Large scale research projects need to apply via NWO. 

Computerbord closeup met aansluitingen
Direct and easy access through your institution

Several institutions have organised direct access to national compute facilities for their researchers. They provide access to SURF compute and data services via a Research Capacity Computing Service (RCCS) contract. This way you will be able to speed up your analyses up to 1.000 times or include many more parameters than you normally could.

Researchers from these institutions already have direct and easy access to compute power and data services via their IT department or research support office:

More and more institutions are offering Research Drive via their RDM/research support or IT department. Is the use of Research Drive desirable for your small request for computing time (so-called pilot grant), and possible via your institution? SURF will ensure that you, as a researcher, can make use of it when you are awarded a grant.

How do I apply for computing time?

Go to the application portal to access our Cartesius, Lisa, HPC Cloud, Custom Cloud or Grid/Spider computing services, with associated storage and support. You can log in with your SURFconext account or create a user account directly in the portal.

Go to request portal

What can I apply for?

You can submit the following pilot applications for the use of calculation systems, storage and support in 2021:

  • a maximum of 100,000 CPU core hours of cluster computing on Lisa Computing Cluster (including max. 200GB directory storage, 4 hours of support, Research Drive - via SURF max. 5TB or via institution). (Temporary availability Lisa-NWO GPU*)
  • up to 500,000 CPU or GPU SBU (standard billing units) of cluster computing on Cartesius Supercomputer (including max. 200GB directory storage, 4 hours of support, if required max. 50TB offline tape storage, Research Drive - via SURF max. 5TB or via institution).
  • Up to 50,000 CPU core hours of cloud computing on HPC Cloud (including max. 2TB storage, 4 hours of support, if required max. 50TB offline tape storage, Research Drive - via SURF max. 5TB or via institution).
  • up to 10,000 GPU hours of cloud computing on HPC Cloud (including max. 2TB storage, 4 hours of support, if required max. 50TB offline tape storage, Research Drive - via SURF (max. 5TB) or via institution).
  • up to 500,000 CPU core hours of data processing on Grid/Spider (including up to 200TB disk storage, 300TB tape storage, Research Drive (via SURF max. 5TB or via institution) and expertise to be determined in consultation for setting up the infrastructure).
  • up to 10,000 GPU hours of data processing on Grid/Spider (including up to 200TB disk storage, 300TB tape storage, Research Drive - via SURF (up to 5TB) or via institution, and expertise to be determined in consultation for setting up the infrastructure).
  • maximum 100,000 CPU core hours Custom Cloud Solutions (MS4/Kubernetes), max. 2TB storage, support in consultation, if necessary max. 50TB offline tape storage, Research Drive (via SURF max. 5 TB or via institution).
  • up to 10,000 GPU hours of Custom Cloud Solutions (MS4/Kubernetes), max. 2TB storage, amount of support in consultation, if necessary max. 50TB offline tape storage, Research Drive - via SURF (max. 5 TB) or via institution.

* A limited number of RTX 2080Ti GPU nodes from the HPC Cloud platform will temporarily be made available as part of the Lisa batch processing platform. These can be requested as part of the Lisa system in this call, from 01-01-2021 until 31-06-2021 only. Please note that other types of Lisa GPUs can not be requested via this call.

Need more computing time?

Do you need more computing time, storage and support than is possible with these pilot applications? Then submit an application to NWO (application process takes approx. 8 weeks, but approx. 2 weeks after submission a partial grant will be made available, so that you can get started quickly. The duration of large NWO grants is 2 years, with the possibility of a one-off extension of 1 year).

Access to all other services for research

Do you want to request access to other services, such as data services, big data analytics, visualisation, connectivity, training or consultancy? Go to the specific pages for those services (see overview).

About the call and budget

The Computing Time on National Computer Facilities programme finances access to national computer facilities. Both the so-called pilot applications for limited amounts of computing time, storage and support that you apply for directly from SURF and the large-scale applications that go through NWO are subject to the terms and conditions of this call. More information about this call can be found on the NWO website.

The available budget for 2021 concerns both large applications via NWO and small pilot applications via SURF: 

  • 429 million SBU computing time
  • 49,348 TB of data storage. 

Of which: 

  • HPC Cloud: 19.8 million core hours (of which CPU: 19.3 million core hours and GPU: 0.5 million core hours), with 600 TB of online storage.
  • Custom Cloud Solutions: 5.5 million CPU core hours and 0.2 million GPU hours, with 202 TB of online storage
  • Supercomputer: 275 million SBU on Cartesius, both CPU and GPU, and 1 million CPU SBU on the Lisa computing cluster, with 6,157 TB Cartesius project space and 15,000 TB Tape Archive (offline storage).
  • Data Processing (Grid/Spider): 127 million CPU core hours, 0.2 million GPU hours, with 16,394 TB online storage and 10,995 TB offline storage. 


  • In the course of 2021 there will be an expansion of capacity, mainly due to the successor of Supercomputer Cartesius.
  • It is not possible to request GPUs at the Lisa Computing Cluster.
  • Improved interchangeability between systems offers extra possibilities in capacity.
  • For all grants, the use of a Research Drive account is possible for storing and sharing data with others. If available, this will be offered through your institution.
For whom?

If the applicant does not have a permanent employment contract with the institution, the application must be signed digitally by a responsible academic supervisor with a permanent appointment. By doing so, the supervisor declares that he or she stands guarantee for the justification of the allocated computing time, storage and support. This scientific supervisor may act as guarantor for several applicants.

Researchers from the following knowledge institutions may submit applications:

  • Universities located in the Kingdom of the Netherlands
  • University medical centres
  • KNAW and NWO institutes
  • Dutch universities of applied sciences
  • the Netherlands Cancer Institute
  • the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen
  • the Dutch-Belgian beamline at ESRF in Grenoble
  • NCB Naturalis
  • Princess Máxima Center
  • the institutions participating in SURF Cooperative: KNMI, RIVM, TNO, National Archives, Royal Library, University for Humanistics, Police Academy
  • IHE
  • All TO2 institutes: TNO, NLRMarinDeltares, and WUR/DLO
How long does an application take?

Within 1 to 2 weeks after submitting your application, you can have access to our systems.

Is interim raising possible?

As long as the application is within the limits set by the compute service, it may be raised.

Example: applicant has a pilot allocation of 350,000 core hours on Cartesius. If it turns out that the applicant needs an additional 150,000 core hours during the period of use, then an increase is possible within the same allocation.

Valid for how long?

1 year. After that, a one-time extension of 6 months is possible.

How often can I apply?

Each applicant may submit one application per type of pilot per calendar year.

Example: in 2021, a researcher can apply for 50,000 core hours on HPC Cloud and 400,000 core hours on Cartesius.

Example: if a researcher works for 2 research projects, both of which require HPC Cloud, this researcher can only submit a pilot application for HPC Cloud for 1 of these projects. For the other project, someone else must submit the application.

How do I ensure good data management?

SURF Data Archive can be used for the storage of research data for the duration of the pilot grant. Contact SURF at the end of the grant period to discuss the possibilities of long-term archiving with your institution.

SURF and an increasing number of institutions also offer the Research Drive service so that you can share with others during the award period. If your institution offers SURF Research Drive, you can make use of it. This improves the link with your institution's data services.

Radiant (pabo's)
Leiden University

You can include this in the data management plan to be drawn up in consultation with the RDM support of your knowledge institution (see NWO website).

Access for companies and other institutions?

You can also use our services as a researcher in industry and (as yet) ineligible institutions. Please contact us for more information about the possibilities.

Is there an overview of the grants?

Yes, on the NWO website. NWO publishes all granted large NWO applications via news items. At the bottom of these announcements there is an appendix with all pilot awards via SURF.

Need extra consultancy/support?

Heb je technische ondersteuning nodig bij het gebruik van diensten? Op deze pagina helpen we je graag verder

Cartesius to Snellius migration

The current Dutch National Supercomputer Cartesius will be replaced after the summer of 2021 by the new system Snellius. See our Servicedesk Knowledge Base for planning and how you can prepare for the upcoming transition.