Most Powerful Canadian Academic Supercomputer Set for Launch

April 3, 2017

April 3 — This April, Simon Fraser University in partnership with Compute Canada and their regional partner WestGrid, will launch the new advanced research computing (ARC) system, Cedar at the SFU Burnaby Campus.

As one of the four new Canadian supercomputing and data centre sites, Canadian researchers will have access to the latest ARC resources and expertise as part of the national platform. The full investment across Canada is valued at $75-million in funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), and provincial and industry partners.

“Cedar will serve many of Canada’s world-class researchers working in diverse fields. SFU is a distinct leader in ARC, and Cedar will place us in the world’s top 100 supercomputer installations,” says Joy Johnson, SFU’s vice-president, research and international. “The development of this data centre further exemplifies SFU’s vision to be Canada’s engaged university, defined by its dynamic integration of innovative education, cutting-edge research and far-reaching community engagement.”

Compute Canada, in partnership with its regional partners and member institutions, is leading this broad transformation of Canada’s national platform. There are 27 data centres and 50 aging legacy systems across Canada that will be consolidated into five to ten data centres by the end of 2018. Cedar alone has greater computational power than all of Compute Canada’s legacy systems combined. This national platform represents operational cost savings, economies of scale, and most importantly, greater computational, storage and cloud for the scientists that depend on these resources to conduct their research.

“For the community of over 11,000 Canadian researchers that we serve today, Cedar and its three sister national systems will give Canadian researchers and innovators the ability to compete and excel globally using big data and big compute tools, “says Mark Dietrich, Compute Canada’s president and chief executive officer. “I think we’ll see extraordinary advances in artificial intelligence, green technology, new materials and advanced products, disease prevention and cures, and much more.”

In mid-April, SFU in partnership with Compute Canada and WestGrid are hosting an exclusive launch event to highlight the fundamental role of ARC in Canadian research and celebrate the launch of Cedar. It will be held at SFU Burnaby’s Water Tower Building, where the new state-of-the-art data centre is located. The event will begin with a formal speaking program, followed by a reception as well as the opportunity to speak with Canadian researchers—both from SFU and other universities—showcasing their ARC-enabled research. Tours of the new data centre will also be available.

Mark Roman, SFU’s chief information officer sums up the importance of this national achievement that is making history:

“Providing a national strategic research computing service involves some obvious facilities such as massive computational processing and vast storage capacity. There are also many behind the scenes facilities including enormously complex support services, processes and infrastructure. Ultimately, the real success of this project is fully and completely dependent on a small group of brilliant and dedicated people – they are the true heroes that transcend the technology.”


Source: Tia O’Grady, Simon Fraser University

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