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December 10, 2009
Dec. 10 -- Researchers across Canada will soon have access to state-of-the-art high performance computing clusters at the Universities of Victoria and Calgary. The new Compute Canada systems hosted by WestGrid -- and worth nearly $13 million combined -- will advance research productivity and enable researchers to run sizeable and computationally-intensive simulations for scientific analysis. The Universities of Victoria and Calgary are among the 14 partner institutions that make up WestGrid, a western Canadian provider of high performance computing, collaboration and data storage infrastructure.
"We are looking forward to the installation of these new systems," says Rob Simmonds, chief technology officer for WestGrid. "They will enable applications to scale further than previously possible, enabling larger and more complex problems to be researched."
The new high performance IBM system at the University of Victoria is an investment of nearly $8 million, including contributions from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Government of British Columbia, and IBM. The system -- composed of the extremely energy-efficient IBM iDataPlex and high-performance IBM System Storage DCS9900 -- will run large scalable applications, store large volumes of data, and retrieve it at very high data rates. The systems' advanced computational capabilities will support the research of users across multiple disciplines, particularly science and engineering. A primary example is astrophysics, which involves running very large simulations and massive amounts of data storage. ATLAS, an international particle physics experiment at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, will use this WestGrid facility for massive data processing and storage.
"This power of the new IBM infrastructure will help WestGrid advance academic research and enable Canadian universities to become more internationally competitive," says Nikitas Dimopoulos, one of WestGrid's Principal Investigators and a Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Victoria. "In the past, some colleagues have had to go outside the country to find this type of computing resource, but now we have it in Canada."
The new HP computing system at the University of Calgary is an investment worth nearly $5 million, including contributions from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Government of Alberta, and HP. The system has 10 times as many processors and a faster Infiniband network than the existing WestGrid infrastructure at the University of Calgary, making it superior at running computations that require hundreds of processors. It will support users in specialties such as chemistry, chemical and petroleum engineering, astronomy, and biological sciences. Peter Tieleman, another WestGrid Principal Investigator and a Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Calgary, uses WestGrid computing facilities to study computer simulations of models of biological molecules.
"The new HP cluster will provide additional computational capacity to address problems in a variety of research areas," says Tieleman. "We have about 60 research groups in Calgary alone that use WestGrid facilities, and they will now have access to the most up-to-date computational facility."
WestGrid is one of seven partner consortia that make up Compute Canada, a national organization that is helping coordinate and promote the expansion and use of high performance computing in Canada. "Compute Canada is pleased to promote the expansion of WestGrid facilities for the benefit of academic researchers across the country," says Susan Baldwin, executive director of Compute Canada. "Access to this advanced computing infrastructure will give these researchers and their universities a competitive advantage, not only in Canada but around the world."
BCNET, Cybera, and CANARIE will provide the networking requirements for the new WestGrid systems. The Universities of Victoria and Calgary have also made contributions towards these new machines in the form of renovated space to house the systems as well as in-kind operational support, such as staff and power costs. The new systems will be available for use starting in the spring of 2010.
IBM Equipment at the University of Victoria
IBM iDataPlex Capability cluster:
IBM iDataPlex Capacity cluster:
IBM DCS9900 Storage system:
HP Equipment at the University of Calgary:
About Compute Canada
Compute Canada is leading the creation of a powerful national high performance computing platform for research. This national platform integrates high performance computing resources at seven partner consortia across the country to create a dynamic computational resource. Compute Canada integrates high performance computers, data resources and tools, and academic research facilities around the country. These integrated resources represent close to a petaflop of computing capability and online and long-term storage with rapid access and retrieval over Canada's national, provincial and territorial high performance networks. Working in collaboration, Compute Canada and the university-based regional high performance computing consortia provide for overall architecture and planning, software integration, operations and management, and coordination of user support for the national high performance computing platform. As a national organization, Compute Canada coordinates and promotes the use of high performance computing in Canadian research and works to ensure that Canadian researchers have the computational facilities and expert services necessary to advance scientific knowledge and innovation. For more information, visit www.computecanada.org.
About the University of Calgary
The University of Calgary (UofC) is a comprehensive research university and is ranked top 10 in Canada for research income, fundraising, endowment, research competitions and national awards. The UofC has 2,600 faculty members actively engaged in research, scholarship and teaching in Canada and around the world, and more than 2,800 staff, making it one of the four largest employers in Calgary. The university produces an economic impact of $1 billion in the Calgary area alone. High-priority areas of research include energy and the environment, biomedical engineering and public policy. Multidisciplinary research is core to the university's teaching and research mandate. For more information, visit www.ucalgary.ca.
About the University of Victoria
The University of Victoria (UVic), one of Canada's leading universities, provides both students and faculty with a unique learning environment. UVic has earned a reputation for commitment to research, scholarship and co-op education. The university is widely recognized for its innovative and responsive programs, interdisciplinary and international initiatives, and a diverse and welcoming learning community. UVic generates more than $2 billion annually in economic activity and directly and indirectly supports over 11,000 jobs in BC. For more information, visit www.uvic.ca.
WestGrid operates high performance computing, collaboration and data storage infrastructure across western Canada. It encompasses 14 partner institutions across British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. WestGrid was the first resource provider in Canada to adopt a grid-enabled system for its high performance computing, collaboration and scientific visualization resources. Since 2004, this system has enabled WestGrid to build a user community across Canada in disciplines ranging from the sciences and engineering to arts and humanities. WestGrid has a cohesive team of technical staff and system architects to support these users. For more information, visit www.westgrid.ca.
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